2019 Courses: Sign up now

Wet Slides: The Spring Giant

Remote Medical Training Instructor and rescue technician J. Manning searches a wet slid avalanche debris field for missing climbers on Mount Stuart in Mid-May 2017. Photo C Thompson

Wet Slides: The Spring Giant

With the heavy winter snowpack melting away in the pacific northwest, awareness for backcountry users recreating in the mountains should include a familiar springtime enemy – wet slide avalanches. Wet slides occur because of free water in the snowpack, percolating through and saturating the buried slabs. This can cause the snow to settle and creep downhill. The magnitude of wet slid avalanches can be enormous. Heavy, wet snow, capable of taking down whole trees. Key risk mitigation of wet slides is to travel early in the morning and follow the sun around the compass. If you find yourself in a rapid warming trend and wallowing in wet snow on a slope, it is time to turn back.

Remote Medical Training Instructor and rescue technician J. Manning searches a wet slid avalanche debris field for missing climbers on Mount Stuart in Mid-May 2017. Photo C Thompson