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February 24, 2010

The San Juan Snowpack

The San Juan Snowpack

Telluride sits in the northern San Juan Mountains—a part of the Rockies notorious for its unstable snowpack. A big, ugly beast of a natural avalanche put an exclamation mark on that this week. Here's a photo of the slide as seen from Telluride's Revelation Bowl.

The slide was on a westerly aspect above Bear Creek Canyon, which is basically the exit point for all the lift-accessed backcountry skiing at Telluride. As far as I could tell this was a natural slide that did not involve any skiers. You can't see it in this photo, but there is a roughly 4' high crown at the start, stepping down to up to 10' crowns below the cliff bands. A sobering reminder of what a truly reactive snowpack looks like—and what it can do.

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When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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