Thursday, June 9, 2011

Colorado Snowpack, Part Deux

Working my way back to Salt Lake, we hit Berthoud Pass for some turns this morning and discussion of some of the avalanche history and challenges of the area.  We had hoped to ski one of the major avy paths that intersects the highway, but the snow here is melting incredibly fast and the path is no longer fully covered.  Thus, we ended up doing a short tour through some of the terrain west of the pass.

The first thing to notice at Berthoud Pass is that you are on notice for avy control at all times.  This is a different approach than taken in Little Cottonwood where flashing lights are used to indicate when control work is being done.  Thank you UDOT for being so accommodating!

With the snowpack melting rapidly, it's getting noticeably brown as all the dust from the past couple of months accumulates on the surface.  I found it interesting, however, that the snowpack on the low peak in the center of this picture is more brown than anywhere else.  Any ideas why?  I'm clueless.

For you mountain weather buffs, here's a photo of the Berthoud Pass mesonet site that you can use for context.  The lack of snow indicates that it "blows like snot" here.   

Indeed, I did more walking in ski boots today than I have in 15 years in Utah.  

However, great pain sometimes leads to great pleasure and we did get some turns in.  By mid morning, we were able to trigger some slough slides that moved long distances at perhaps a meter per second.  Although not a concern for safety, they were fascinating to watch.  

The question of the day, however, is how did all these broken trees and branches end up here.  It's at the bottom of a long avalanche path, but there did not appear to be a recent slide and all the trees and branches were on top of the snow rather than mixed in it.  Another mystery.  Any ideas out there?

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