New Sponsorship 2018 — The North Face

Delighted to say The North Face sees our public service efforts here and will be pitching in along with our other sponsors. As thanks, please explore their banner to right. (Also note we have room for one or two more sponsors). Specific projects:
— Improving webcam.
— Becoming an official observation site for NOAA.
— Likewise, doing something more formal with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
— Making our facilities available to Search & Rescue operations.
— Improving emergency cache stored near the most common parking area.
— Search & Rescue documentation photography and mapping, to assist with operations.

Please note we do accept donations. Please contact us to contribute financially or with labor.

A Quick Browse of the Snotel

Main avalanche paths on Quarry road.

Main avalanche paths on Quarry road.

Figured it would be nice having a quick way of pulling up the Schofield Snotel data, so we added a page and a menu item above. The page is here.

We created a simplified 48 hour, hourly chart with only snow depths and temperatures. Idea is to speed up your data browsing to you can get out skiing sooner.

How Often Does Marble Peak Avalanche at Full Path?

Someone brought this up the other day. Now that Marble Peak is skied so much, it doesn’t seem to produce full-path avalanches. That could change if we get some kind of unusual series of storms that close the road and build up a 2+ meter snowpack. But for now, parking at Lumber Curve within the Marble Peak avy path (where the Anthracite Pass trailhead is) is a workable solution.

We were around the first specifically known time Marble Peak slid full path, February 1995 (reference, Colorado Avalanche Information Center 1994-1995 Annual Report). This class 5 avalanche took out a mature spruce forest above the road, extended the runout into mature aspen forest by 300 feet, and improved the skiing immensely. Quite impressive for an avalanche path that’s not really big in topographical relief, at only around 2,500 vertical feet if you count the runout. What’s interesting is not only did the big one get turned by terrain features, but it ran an impressive distance on lower angled terrain below the road. Google Earth tells the tale.

This long return period avalanche (LRP) occured during a week-long storm cycle that brought the snowpack in the Yule Quarry region to more than 7 feet (84 inches) on the ground (possibly 8 feet in places), with a water equivalent of about 7.3 inches.

According to comments on this post, that have jogged our memory, the Marble Peak path ran full-path again in 2005, during the same cycle that shattered a mature aspen grove on what’s known as “Pre Mud,” the slope just before Mud Gulch as you’re headed up the Yule Quarry Road. Indidentally, the huge 2005 Cleaver slide off Chair Mountain also ran at this time.

What’s the takeaway? Until the snowpack gets quite deep and unskied, in our opinion parking at Lumber Curve is less risky than driving highway 133. But be aware of trends. When the snowpack gets quite deep (we’d define that as more than 6 feet, 72 inches on the ground) and unstable, the Marble Peak path could go big.

At this time (January 2017) we may be approaching that situation.

Nearly Average Snowpack for Christmas

Winter came late — incredibly late. But we’re already up to a fairly average snowpack for the Marble zone. Avalanche people say watch out for north and northeast stuff that the early snows didn’t melt from and morphed into depth hoar. From the looks of it, people are enjoying easterly aspects. Marblecam is working well, with a couple of volunteers cleaning the snow stake board after storms. New wider road and improved parking is helping immensely.