D1: Relatively harmless to people.
Top of Bennies slide, 26inches crown, 50ft wide, ran for 200ft, skier triggered
We arrived to the Bennies brook slide late in the day (approx 13h) Climbed up to the bottom of the 3 lines to see our options and make a decision based on the snow conditions. We decided to head to the main path of Bennies slide because we weren’t really sure about the quality of skiing on the 2 left slides. We started climbing on the left side of the main slide following a skintrack that was already setup. The bottom part of the line was all good, only problem we noticed was the thin snowpack which made the buried obstacles very close to the surface and difficult to see. About a 1/3 up the skintrack stopped and we started breaking tracks. While climbing we avoided the steeper slopes and convex rolls by climbing very close to the left side of the slide, but we still felt the snow failing beneath (small cracks, upper part of the snowpack sliding at some kick turns, small whoomf). At that point we tought the problematic layer was only about 2-4inch down so we we’re confident about our ski skills to get out of trouble if ever. While climbing we kept digging small snowpits with our hands+poles to get a feel of the snow and noticed the new layer of snow was getting deeper as we climbed. When we got to the last pitch, the new layer of snow was still not very deep (about 6-8in) so we bootpacked to the top of the line (+-45deg slope). When we got to the top, I did a deeper test pit with my hands and realised the problematic layer was actually +-26inch down. We decided our safest option was to do a ski cut at the top of the line to see the reactivity of the snow because the steeper part of the slide wasn’t wide which limited our exposure time. When I drop in, I didn’t feel any particular reaction of the snowpack, but as I jumped I felt the air a bit and about 2/3 in my ski cut the whole face slid as I was jumping. The crown was right beneath my skis. The avalanche ran for 200ft, and stopped as soon as the slope got less steeper. We got down safely, and spoke with a group at the bottom that dug a pit about a 1/3 of the way up and they also noticed the 26inch layer that was very fragile. We definitely pushed it, but we felt we were comfortable with the risks we took and the consequence in the event of something happening. We all had our avy kit, all had wilderness safety training, safety gear and a communication method in case of an emergency.