The Big Horn Mountains! Wyoming, USA Update…Nov 7, 2011
The Big Horns are one of only a few snowkite areas anywhere right now with snow, and arguably one of the best in the world especially right now. I thought it worthy of an other update with some pictures to help get snowkiter’s stoke on for the 2012 season.
This time I went back with Wayne Phillips and Billy Baker. Billy had his biggest flight ever (which was kind of scary) and Wayne had some epic lines. I caught this one in sequence with this cool wind slab slide.
I'm stoked Drift Snowkite Magazine published some of these pics and a story here...
I was real curious from your pics to see what might be unstable and causing a slide like that. I noticed a lot of faceted snow up on Baldy last weekend and so it makes sense that wind-loaded spots could be triggered. Be aware if you're riding high country that has some old snow underneath these recent storm deliveries....could get dicey in spots for a while .... hopefully the old faceted stuff will shake itself loose & stabilize since its so shallow in most places.
Saw 2 natural slides with large crowns that went after you guys took those pics on aspects of Bald Mtn we normally don't kite. Nice thing about that mtn is runouts seem pretty short.
I made it up there on Friday the 11th and wondered about that slide up there. had an unreal day sessioning in good 13m wind with another crew from Bozeman/BigSky and some Billings locals.
Ive been snowkiting for years but only on flat land and a few small hills. Man, kiting up around Baldy was a whole other ball game. Havent felt my heart beat so anxiously as when I climbed up to the top of lil baldy, so cool. Its gonna take me a while to get comfortable with the steeper climbs over on the steeper ridge, very strange to have the wind window move around and the kite start to fly behind me.
keeping my eye on the forecast for the upcoming weekend and hoping the road remains open.
Terrain is fun, but you get good at more technical stuff on the flats. It's great practice for the water. I've snowkited in Wisconsin before and I had a great powder sess nicely powered. Mountain kiting you'll find to be alot of work and time put into planning and strategy which is some of the reward however frustrating sometimes.
That slide was triggered most likely by Wayne riding by at his approach and vibrating from above, as he rolled down into his line he vibrated below the slope just enough to break it. We were aware of the unstable conditions because it blew 9m from the west the day before and that very spot bends around to be the most obvoius wind loaded slope. The entire slope has some windloading effect and that's what makes good and fluffy. It actually went 2 weeks before while I was there but didn't even notice until I was leaving. It's easy to see from the car but not so obvious when you're down under it.
I'm hoping to go this weekend, Sunday and Monday look like there'll be some trailing SW winds and clearing skies from this storm. Some lighter winds and sunny skies are what I'm shooting for. If it snows enough here, or I can't find anyone to carpool then I may miss this weekend, and shoot for the next. Cheers!
This is from the SW Montana avalanche area. Many of the things said in this can be apllied in the Bighorns - in places. It just loaded up again with a good dump in the Bald Mtn area so be aware. This includes some of the deeper couloirs up there that can be really fun natural 1/2 pipe features(terrain traps)::
Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:
It’s bad. Folks are triggering avalanches from low angled terrain which are propagating far and wide. Slopes that held early season snow are especially dangerous since the old snow became weak, faceted and sugary. With 1-2 feet of new snow this week it’s difficult to tell which slope is unstable and which is not.
Yesterday, very experienced backcountry skiers were shocked when they triggered a slope in Hyalite from low angled terrain. There were no previous collapses or natural avalanche activity to warn them of the high instability