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Old 12-27-2015, 12:16 PM
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Default Wolf Creek Avalanche Class w/ Matt Entz

First class of the year for us... helped out with Matt Entz's Mountain Skillz program. Classroom presentation in Del Norte for a few hours.


14 of us for this class... couple instructors, couple industry guys, few pro-riders... good group.


Check the avalanche and weather forecast before we go, quick discussion on the hazards of the day.


Get all geared up and ready to ride, load up extra gear/equipment for the on-the-snow portion of the class. Couple extra beacons/bags to bury for training and all my camera gear.


Get on the snow and go over some beacon search techniques.




Matt and Brian run through a scenario describing effective rescue procedure.


Broke up into smaller groups to get some hands-on time.
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Old 12-27-2015, 12:18 PM
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Packed up and travelled a little further up the hill to look at some terrain... evaluate slope angle, convex/concave slopes, and dig a few pits to look deeper into the snowpack.


CAIC's app as an inclinometer, and there's a stand-alone app for both iOS and Android for it. Great tool to have in the backcountry.




Sandy, one of the CAIC avalanche experts, walks us through the process of digging and evaluating a snow pit and the layers within the snowpack.


Some granular layers deeper in the snowpack that can provide a bed surface for an avalanche under the right conditions...


...like with the weight of a snowmobiler uphill... Never got that slope to fail though.
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Old 12-27-2015, 12:21 PM
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Continue on, and Matt demonstrates how to dig a snow pit with a snowmobile.


Clean out a face afterwards


With this face being on a different slope aspect than the previous one, the layers in the snowpack are a little different. Well-defined ice layer about 2ft off the ground.


Saw out a column and test its stability. Got a good clean fracture after a few elbow taps.


Pull that fractured column off the pit wall and take a look at the snow grains under a loupe. Faceted snow doesn't bond well to other snow grains, and forms a weak layer for more cohesive snow on top to slide on.


Run through a few more scenarios, discuss afterwards what went well and what didn't.
"Confusion at first with what was going on."
"Good communication between the team."
"Took me longer than it should have to get my gear out and ready."


Then the fun part... shove a probe into the snowbank at average burial depth, and two teams race to get to the tip of the probe. This hard plowed snow is more like what avalanche scree feels like to dig in, vs. the soft fluff we've been digging in the rest of the day.


End up moving a lot of snow in a short period of time.


It'd be easier with one of these. 3


A couple closing words, then get everything loaded/packed up and head down the mountain... stop in Alamosa for dinner, then roll into the driveway around 0330.
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