Flagstaff, Arizona - Backcountry of The San Francisco Peaks and Kachina Peaks Wilderness
Format and Limitations Statement
Barring any unusual weather or events, this will be our final snowpack summary of the season. KPAC is especially grateful to our community for the fantastic and continued support. THANK YOU!
Avalanches are unlikely while the spring snowpack remains frozen. The probability of natural and human triggered wet avalanches will increase during warm and windless days. Any wet avalanches will likely be small, but even small avalanches may have consequences for people in extreme terrain and terrain traps.
The spring melt/freeze cycle continues, with the past mid-week being more freeze than melt. No large (>D1) wet avalanches were observed on northerly and easterly slopes last weekend. Other than windblown tree debris, the melt/freeze snow surface was scarcely altered by the strong winds and trace precipitation of the past week. Warm temperatures of the past month combined with very little precipitation during the first 6 weeks of 2022 has resulted in many slopes losing much or all of their snowpack. Most northerly and shady slopes above 9,500' still have adequate coverage.
When weather and their timing aligned, parties reported excellent spring corn-snow conditions last weekend.
Expect the spring weather to change, and thus expect avalanche problems and probabilities to change. Read more about common backcountry spring travel conditions
Expect a melt/freeze surface on most slopes that have snow. Ice tools and crampons will be helpful on steep slopes consisting of hard icy snow, especially during the cold and dim hours.
Expect a melt/freeze surface on all slopes that still have a snowpack. Most northerly slopes should have sufficient coverage down to ~9,500', but the approaches and egresses continue to melt fast, becoming more and more problematic. The good news is that forest roads are becoming navigable, opening new approach/egresses opportunities by bicycle and vehicle. Check the forest roads status link in the resource menu.
Watch for warming temperatures creating saturated slopes, increasing the likelihood of wet avalanches. Solar absorbing rocky outcrops tend to be trigger areas on sun baked slopes. For warm days, start your tour early and finish early. If you find yourself sinking over your boot top into slushy wet snow, then it's time to move to a cooler slope, or exit steep slopes for the day.
Multiple days and nights with above freezing temperatures may create very unstable conditions.