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Four Shadows Couloir Sluff Movie

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Okay, this is my first attempt at doing a video on YouTube so we'll see how it turns out.

For any of you who don't know, Four Shadows is a couloir on Cody Peak, which is out of bounds and the next peak south of the summit of the Jackson Hole ski resort. VolantAddict took this photo of it from the top in the summer of 2007:

And then this one from below:

So in June of 2003, I skied it with two friends from Salt Lake City. What made this particular trip unusual was the VERY strange snow condition we experienced.

It was late enough in the year that there was a well-established runnel right down the middle of the couloir, but that's not particularly out of the ordinary. What happened when we skied it, however, was something I had never seen in thirty years of backcountry skiing.

My two friends skied down first and one of them had a video camera. As I skied it, I made a turn or two right where VA is sitting in the photo above and then cut far skier's left where the old cornice makes it a pretty steep wall of snow. It was a bright, sunny day and the snow was warming. With each turn, I could tell that the top few inches of wet snow were peeling off and starting to slide, but I was moving fast enough to keep ahead of it.

When I skied down to where the other two were waiting (a little ways below the chokepoint in VS's other photo), I noticed that snow was sliding down the runnel in the middle of the couloir. It was wet, slushy snow the consistency of concrete and it just kept coming by us for quite a while. My friend turned on his video camera because none of us had ever seen anything like it. Here's the result:

I'm the one in the red jacket facing the camera. It was pretty cool.
post #2 of 10
Hey, cool vid. Glad you got around to getting it on youtube
post #3 of 10
I experienced a similar thing late last April up at Tuckermans. The runnels were REALLY bad this year, with literally dozens of them running down the lip and headwall, some of them waist deep! I skied a couple of tight, chute-esque lines between some of them, and after I was down I stood and watched all my sluff coming down them just like in your video. It really looked like a waterslide, and there were some kids sledding in bottom parts of them while I was up there. Pretty strange phenomenon.

Runnels coming down the lip and headwall at Tuckemans Ravine, April 22 08.

Looking down one towards the bottom of the bowl. The guy on the right didn't do so well picking his way between them.

Hikers investigating. Pretty deep!
post #4 of 10
In March of '07 I skied Snowbasin in whiteout conditions. We exited the gondola and went lookers left on an access trail and I was soo "whited out" I HAD to stop. When I did the snow kept moving down the hill all around me and under my feet. I couldn't tell if I was stopped or not. I had no fear of avalanche as it was actually a very low angle trail. I was in a milk jug. My head started spinning and I just simply fell over due to dizziness. I was all limp and I SLAMMED my head into the hard surface, helmut on.

It was the weirdest thing??

Is that vertigo??

Sorry to hijack....just another "moving snow" story.
post #5 of 10
Does that count as a slow avalanche or a fast glacier?
post #6 of 10
That's a new one for me. Lots of climbing in the Tetons and I've never seen anything like that.
post #7 of 10
I have seen this a number of times on Hillmans Highway at Tuckerman's. It's freaky beacause it can redirect your tip as you crosss the fall line.
post #8 of 10
I saw this is exact same thing on youtube a while ago. Someone was skiing a chute in Snowbird during the summer and it was the exact same wet sluff that is in your video.
post #9 of 10
I have seen this around Memorial Day on the Palisades at Alpine Meadows. Just a constantly moving river of slush in a runnel. Not something you should try to ski in either. That is a lot of mass moving down the hill. Also when that top layer stops adhering, it makes edging feel very imprecise like you might make a turn and just keep sliding. Melting snow makes great patterns sometimes.

post #10 of 10
JayPowHound: Thanks for the pics...I've never seen it that bad up there. I'll bet you skied carefully that day.

Apparently in certain parts of the world wet flows of snow like this take place over long distances on very shallow slopes. I'd love to see such a thing from a safe distance. Found this reference: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/j...TRY=1&SRETRY=0
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