Flagstaff, Arizona - Backcountry of The San Francisco Peaks and Kachina Peaks Wilderness
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Finding sufficient coverage for backcountry skiing/snowboarding is still difficult, but it has gotten a little better. Unfortunately getting to and from good coverage will involve hiking over rocks.
Avalanches may be possible near and above treeline where wind slabs have developed on northerly aspects. Cracking wind slabs were observed on northeasterly slopes of Snowslide Canyon and Fremont Peak.
Except for shady and northerly aspects, much of our thin early season snowpack melted prior to the Valentine Storm Cycle. This new snow is a welcome relief but many rocks and logs will be hiding just under the snow surface.
Currently, year to date snowfall is at 45" at 10,800', with a settled base depth of about 28".
Many above treeline, southerly slopes were stripped by southerly winds. This snow may have loaded up leeward slopes near ridgelines, possibly creating unstable slabs. Today we observed cracking wind slabs on the northeasterly slopes of Snowslide Canyon and Fremont Peak. Warm weekend temperatures may make these slabs more reactive.
With ~28" of snow at mid-mountain elevations, coverage is still thin. Rocks and logs will be your primary hazard. The most northerly aspects will have the best coverage, but it will still be thin.
Watch out for small isolated slabs of new dense snow perched on older weaker snow. Arizona Snowbowl Ski Patrol did observe a new dense snow slab release on lift line of chair 1 below midway.
Watch out for wind slabs and/or wind loading on northwesterly, northerly, northeasterly and easterly slopes.
Today we observed cracking wind slabs on the northeasterly slopes of Snowslide Canyon and Fremont Peak. Warm weekend temperatures may make these slabs more reactive.
Reactive slabs are not wide spread, but they are out there.