Observation – 3/12/2014 – Tunnel/Pinnacle Creek drainages, Flathead Range

Observer: Pete Costain
Date: 3/12/14
Time: noonish
Location: Pinnacle/Tunnel Ridge
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:

Toured up onto Pinnacle Ridge above South Tunnel Ck. and found 15-20 cm of fresh dry snow on NW to NE aspects in the morning above 5000 ft. At lower elevations the snowpack was still saturated and soft and up to 5400 ft or so the rain layer below the new snow was still soft. We dug two pits at 6300 ft, one NW and one NE and found the following results, similar in both. 15-20 cm fresh snow on a pencil hard 10-15 cm rain layer – super thick. Interesting to note that this firm layer still felt damp and there were distinct layers within, including rain soaked graupel. Below this was a fairly consolidated snowpack, but with distinct layers. ECT testing produced no results, but there were 5 or 6 subtle layers in the top 150 cm that could be pried off with force to clean shears. The Jan/Feb drought layer was 180-200cm down and was visible but not reactive. By the afternoon any snow not close to due north exposure received a thin sun crust. There was lots of evidence of north facing cornice fall several days prior, and most of the low to mid elevation south facing slopes had already slid or slid during the day, confined to the new snow. Upper elevation north and east facing peaks held together yesterday. Skiing was decent at our elevation, 6800 ft and below, but we could definitely feel the crust below the pow.