Everyone be careful out there… There is considerable instability in the Vermont backcountry and there are have been a few slides and a lot of snow movement right down to that old frozen layer. There’s not a ton of snow on top of it but a slide is a slide. There have been a couple decent size ones in the Smuggler’s Notch area over the past 48 hours. Please be aware that these conditions exist. Below are some reports and additional information you should definitely take into consideration if heading out!
State SAR Coordinator:
Skier Safety Tip: Our recent heavy snowfall should make for great ski conditions this weekend, but the storm fell on top of unstable layers from earlier weather patterns and have created conditions that are currently highly unstable. While avalanches are not common in Vermont, they can present a significant risk to backcountry users under these circumstances. Steep, open slopes should be avoided until conditions have stabilized. The leeward side of mountains will be susceptible to additional wind loading. Backcountry skiers and ice climbers should be particularly cautious, take appropriate precautions, and have good situational awareness of their surroundings.
On our approach around 7am up a gentle south facing slope up to ~2,700′ we heard significant whoomphing and the snowpack was noticeably hollow underneath based on pole probes. The line we had been planning on skiing has been known to slide in the past. At the top we dug a pit on a north facing 37 degree slope at 2,700′ (pics attached). A large slab popped out almost immediately with a shovel shear, and a compression test failed with significant energy after only three taps from my wrist. The slab was a 30cm deep cohesive soft wind slab, and the weak layer was a ~10cm layer of well formed depth hoar with ~5-8mm faceted crystals. We decided to turn around and ski the low angle south facing trees we had skinned up and then proceeded to continue on a mellow contour tour for several miles between 2,200-2,400′. On this tour we crossed all aspects and the whoomphing and the depth hoar were present for our entire tour.