Volatile Snowpack Finally Caves

Avalanche debris below Light Towers and Slot.

Avalanche debris below Light Towers and Slot at Squaw Valley.

Something had to give with our recent snowpack and over the last few days it finally did. New snow and strong winds collapsed layers of buried surface hoar resulting in large avalanches throughout the Tahoe region. On January 15 nearly everything steep at Squaw Valley slid during avalanche mitigation. Slides on Headwall and Palisades were rated category 3.5. Several post control releases occurred in Enchanted Forest and Snag Cliffs. Unofficial backcountry guru Brennan Lagasse witnessed natural releases on the West Shore and Donner Summit. On January 14, local pro skier JT Holmes was buried in a slide near Cold Stream Canyon. He was dug out and revived by companions and is reportedly OK. Incoming storms will continue to stress persistent weak layers. Hopefully everything will shake out and settle with the wet storms over the next few days. Check the SAC forecast for daily updates. Sierra Avalanche Center

Buried surface hoar is uncommon in Tahoe and warrants special consideration from backcountry travelers. Read more about this atypical condition here: Reno Gazette Journal Sierra Snow Conditions Create Rare Avalanche Problem

Reno Gazette Coverage of JT Holmes Avalanche Burial

Headwall crown.

Headwall crown.

Slab avalanches propagated all the way from Light Towers to Headwall.

Slab avalanche propagated from Light Towers to Headwall.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.