Everything is right with the world. Late October and the first of the storms that will constitute the beginnings of our snowpack has rolled through and given way to clear and sunny skies before we get our next storm. This is fairly typical for the late October snows, although last year was an anomaly as the snow kept coming and coming. This year it seems high pressure will build back and temperatures look like they will rise a bit before we return to a storm cycle. With the clear warmer weather moving back in, it is important to keep an eye on the snow in the coming weeks. Without getting covered by subsequent storms, this first layer can degrade into loose facets, a potential weak layer for future snow to slide on . Nothing is certain and this is only a bit of early season snow alchemy, but it is backed by my experiences in the past of our Continental snowpack and the effect of this first layer has in East Vail early season. It is one of the hallmarks of or Colorado snowpack, relatively shallow and complex with many different layers and usually a problematic layer at the bottom, at least to start the season, until it either consolidates in the snow pack or flushes out with the first significant avalanche cycle.
Of course we can’t predict the bonding that will happen with extra load until the next storms arrive, and the amount of degradation depends on many factors. Aspect, temperatures, snowfall, sun hit and elevation are some of major factors that have an impact on the metamorphosis of the snow. Bottom line, it is a storm and a layer to be mindful of as the season starts to move forward, especially as we get into the beginning of the backcountry ski season in November. As always, rely your own assessment of the snow. Just some things to think about from your friends at EVI.