New Logo and Spring Snowpack Conditions

by VICTOR MCNEIL
Posted: Wed, 3/22/2017 7:48 AM

We are pleased to announce the WAC has a new logo. The new logo was a collaborative effort, and was created based on a vision Kip Rand had for a new design. In the future we are going to offer T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hats and Pint Glasses with the logo available for purchase or donation. A local NW artist Alexander Basquiat designed the logo. You can check out more of his work here: http://www.alexanderbasquiat.com/ Spring Snowpack: The snowpack in the Wallowa’s and Elkhorn’s has been making the transition into a springtime snowpack over the past couple weeks. Temperatures above 7,000’ have been in the 40’s many days and high snow levels have led to rain on snow. As the snowpack becomes saturated by free melt water, or rain, it breaks the snow bonds and causes wet loose avalanches. You will see pinwheels, roller balls and start sinking in to your boot tops on warm days or as the snow begins to thaw. Often times wet loose avalanches begin around trees, rocks and other areas that are trapping heat. If you are heading out to go skiing or snowmobiling check local weather stations to see if the snowpack has been freezing at night. Multiple nights without a hard freeze can really weaken the snowpack. As melt water continues to percolate through the snowpack it can pool at crust layers and cause wet slabs. These wet slabs are some of the most destructive avalanches, and although slower moving can cause major damage. Wet slabs are difficult to forecast, but until the snowpack has become isothermal (snowpack is wet from top to bottom) and is continually freezing at night are cause for concern. Cornices are one of the greatest concerns as the temperatures rise and the sun lays havoc on snow surfaces. A cornice weights multiple thousands of pounds and can trigger persistent weak layers buried deep in the snowpack. Cornices fail further back than most people realize. As cornices begin to fail you will often times see cracking as they pull away from the dirt and rock they’re attached to. Stay clear of cornices above you and don’t step out onto cornices while traveling on ridge tops. The snow will continue to fly through April, so there will be times when multiple avalanche problems exist during the same day. You may find dry snow on high north facing terrain; meanwhile the south aspects are corn snow. If you find yourself out on a day when the temperatures are above freezing: 1. Get an early start 2. Keep your eyes peeled for roller balls and pinwheels naturally and human caused 3. As the temps go above freezing consider your exit strategies from avalanche terrain 4. Look for higher north facing terrain 5. Some days you’re better off going home early! Stay safe this spring and enjoy the longer days and sunshine.