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Avalanches, La Nina & Snirt

Info, conditions and gear related to skiing or riding Colorado Peaks, including the 14ers! Ski/Ride Trip Reports
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Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:55 am
Location: Boulder, CO

Avalanches, La Nina & Snirt

Postby shaunster_co » Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:48 am

I have two questions I am going to throw out there that hopefully myself and others can gain some insight on – La Nina & Snirt.

We are heading in to a peak La Niña winter with cooler pacific ocean currents. What does this mean as far as avalanche safety this winter? From what I understand in Colorado this could mean a dryer winter in some areas, while others will be wetter / colder than average. Does this spell more hoar avalanche conditions in the places that will get wildcard snow storms?

Second, a La Niña typically means more wind.. Does this mean more ‘snirt’? I know over the past few years the snirt has completely ruined spring skiing / boarding. Last year I was bummed seeing the snirt at A-Basin, which completely ruined the East Wall & North Pole areas on Lenawee Peak.
I used to work at Keystone long ago and did the avalanche safety (the equivalent of L1 now). The terminology and science has changed so much I have decided to go though Level One again in December. Topics such as snirt were never covered back then – it seems to be a phenomenon of the past decade.

Just curious what others think.

Honestly, my worst nightmare isn’t getting caught in an avy, rather, it is someone that I am with getting caught in one. Friends of mine and I would go up to areas on Loveland Pass (Professor & Preacher) and practice scenarios. We would tie a beacon to a bottle of Guinness and hide it in a snowfield and do a scenario where a person was buried, with high prob of a secondary (usually we would pick the old slide areas). The clock began... Really puts it in to perspective when you are on a snowboard, race 100 yards backclimb, and feverishly try to find your friend 'Guinness'... Put's things in perspective for sure. I hope I never find myself in that scenario.

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