Hakuba Snow Report March 14

1 degree celcius on top of the mountain this morning…the word from the Goryu snow groomers who stay on top overnight is that the rain that was falling in the valley fell as snow for a while last night accumulating about 10-15 cms but then morphed back into rain which ate through the fresh. Word from those on the resorts today is pretty negative as to the state of the slopes. Rain / Snow is still falling which is forecast to continue through the day turning to snow from the afternoon and then sunny tomorrow.

Goryu is hosting the Willcom Cup Winter Games 2009 and have their opening ceremony tonight with a trampoline show, big air competition and so on…the comp begins tomorrow get up there and check out the slopestyle on the Goryu Toomi run.

Moderate North-Westerly winds in the alpine and -6 degrees so this storm may fall as some decent snow at altitude.

Snow Stability Information

Rain soaked storm snow at lower elevations and heavy new snow at higher elevation will continue to put stress on the snow pack and greatly increases the avalanche hazard.

Past melt freeze crusts may also become reactive with the weight of the new snow and rain. The addition of wind loaded snow will increase the chance that slabs down to past melt freeze crusts and may propagate from shallow points near ridges and around rocks and trees on solar aspects. Be aware of what is going on down deep in the snow pack.

Snowpack Tests:

March 10th
Compression tests on a Northerly aspect of Nishi Hiodori @ 1900 metres a.s.l. found Hard results.
CTH(27‚23)B down 33cm
March 9th
Compression tests on a Southerly aspect of Happo One @ 2200 metres a.s.l. found easy results around a buried sun crust down 10 cm.
CTE/M(7‚11)SC down 10cm below sun crust.
Compression tests on a northerly aspect of Happo One @ 2200 metres a.s.l. found Easy to hard results that also had Sudden Collapse fracture characteristics.
CTE(1‚2)PC down 2cm; CTM/H(17‚21)RP down 38cm; CTH(24)SC down 47cm (all Crust and facet related)
March 8th
Compression tests on an Easterly aspect in the Tsugaike Seicho valley at 1800 metres a.s.l found very easy results just below the recent breakable rain crust at 11 cm.
CTE(1‚2)SC down 11cm on decomposing crystals size 2.
There were also Moderate compression‚ Sudden Planner results at the past storm snow / February 26th rain crust interface.
CTM(15)SP down 59cm on decomposing crystals size 1~2.
The layer to keep an eye on was much lower at 133 cms from the surface at the interface above the even older rain layer that is still retaining heat and a lot of moisture and has mixed forms of facets and decomposing snow right above it. There were varying results on this layer from easy shovel shear tests to moderate and hard sudden planner results from compression tests. This is definitely a layer to keep an eye on as if it goes on this one‚ expect a very large and destructive slide.
CTM/H(20‚23)SP down 133cm on mixed forms and facets over a thick rain layer

Travel Advisory:

Avoid steep gullies‚ bowls and wind loaded slopes. Possibility of triggering avalanches in in the past storm snow in certain terrain such as‚ steep lee slopes or cross loaded gullies and cliff bands. All slopes could be reactive and you should expect slab avalanches to the now buried March 10th rain crust. Keep travel to low angle supported slopes and be careful of run outs from above.

Avalanche Hazard Rating:

Below Tree Line: Considerable (Rain soaked)
Tree Line: Poor
Alpine: Poor

Rapid increase of weight on snow pack
Increased snowfall adding load to buried week layer
Cornice fall
rapid settlement of surface snow causing load on buried weak layers
Warming of surface snow causing instability in surface and near surface layers
Use caution if crossing solar radiated slopes.
Increased caution advised around rocky outcroppings‚ cliffs and well spaced trees in start zones.
Windward scouring of ridges and rock out-crops creating uneven loading of slopes
Due caution on cross loaded slopes
Poor bonding at or around buried crust
Facet layer around buried crust
Wide propagation due to wind slab
Stay away from steep and convex terrain

Danger level 4 : High

Natural and human triggered avalanches likely.

Danger level ratings are set for conditions at tree line
and may vary from below tree line and High Alpine areas.
Use this information as a guideline only.