Flagstaff, Arizona - Backcountry of The San Francisco Peaks and Kachina Peaks Wilderness
Format and Limitations Statement
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Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely near and above treeline during the early mornings. As the day heats up, natural and human triggered avalanches will be possible on southern aspects and any slope receiving strong solar input or consistent temperatures above freezing.
Below treeline, wet avalanches may be possible on steep (>30°) isolated slopes where the snowpack has become saturated by a combination of sunshine and above freezing overnight temperatures.
No new precipitation since March 22nd. No significant slab avalanches or unstable snow reported since February. Loose wet avalanches were observed this week near and above treeline (see photo below).
Backcountry conditions are dynamic, and can change rapidly, especially in spring. Pay attention to changes in snowfall, wind and temperature and how those changes affect the snowpack. Spring skiing entails monitoring overnight temperatures and what elevation freezing occurs and for how long. Saturated deep slush is indicative of wet slide hazard.
Read more about spring travel strategies
As the day heats up, natural and human triggered avalanches will be possible on southern aspects and any slope receiving strong solar input or slopes which have not frozen overnight. Expect to find wind scoured zones and hard icy snow above treeline. Crampons and ice axes will help prevent falls on steep icy slopes.
Slush conditions are indicative of a saturated snowpack, which can slide unpredictably.
Coverage is good to excellent on most slopes above 9500', with plenty of safer low angle (<30°) touring. Wet avalanches may be possible on steeper isolated slopes where the snowpack has been saturated by a combination of sunshine and above freezing overnight temperatures. Watch for saturated, and deep slushy snow around terrain traps and any slope above 30 degrees.
Wet avalanche hazard is unpredictable. Warm temperatures and consistent nights with above freezing temperatures are warning signs of an unstable wet snowpack.
Evidence of loose wet avalanches were observed this week on east-southeast slopes near treeline. As the day heats up, watch for loose wet and larger wet slab avalanche potential - primarily above ~10,500' on steep easterly, southeasterly, southerly, southwesterly, and westerly slopes.
Watch out for above freezing overnight temperatures leading to saturated and unstable snow on any steep aspect below ~10'500.
During warm weather, surface snow will become saturated with water. Deteriorating riding conditions (thick and sticky slush) and rollerballs are an indication that you should move to a colder slope or head home.
Cornices have formed along ridgelines and cross loaded features. We saw evidence of natural cornice collapses last weekend. Stay away from overhung cornices, as these may collapse unexpectedly and break further back than you may expect.