The snowpack is sensitive out there. Hell, the snowpack basically has a haripin trigger. As shown in the video from Pucker Face, if you’re heading into the backcountry, it’s time to be conservative. The roughly 30″ of snow we got last week (with about 4″ of water content) fell on weak snowpack. We headed south of the resort a couple of days ago, sticking to the trees and ridges, to see what was going on out there.
The above photo is from No Name Face- a popular backcountry run with a NE exposure. What’s interesting about this slide is the way that it steps down after the initial crown. Although it could have been a separate slide, it appears as though the the slide stepped down to another weak layer in the bottom center of the photo.
As noted before, the Pucker Face went wall-to-wall on January 2nd. After one skier made it through, a snowboarder triggered the slide just below the cornice. Another popular Jackson Hole sidecountry run, Pucker has a SE exposure. In addition to the snowboarder, warming temps likely contributed to this slide.
I apologize for the quality of this photo, but you should be able to faintly see some tracks going right to left on the top of the photo, with a crown just above them. This is in the the Spacewalk/M&M area, facing SE, just beyond the JHMR boundary (no hiking necessary). Although there are tracks going into this slidepath, no riders were caught.
We also witnessed slides below Breakneck, roughly an eastern exposure. To reiterate, it’s sketchy out there- at all elevations and exposures. If you choose to head out, use your brain and make smart decisions.