Avalanches in the Panamints

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Birdman
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Avalanches in the Panamints

Post by Birdman » Thu Sep 07, 2006 4:00 pm

Does anyone know of published reports on the uprooting of trees in the Panamint Mountains apparently by snow avalanches? There are a number of areas in the Panamints where large swaths of trees have been uprooted and all have been located on the steep sides of mountains or on the sides of canyons. I saw one published report many years ago but I have been able to locate that report. I’m particularly interested in the dating of the events by dendrochronology or other methods.
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Post by Birdman » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:26 pm

I saw one published report many years ago but I have NOT been able to locate that report.
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deathvalleydan
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Post by deathvalleydan » Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:08 pm

This probably won't help, but there was a major avalanche on the north face of Rogers Peak in the winter of '04-05 which uprooted many trees in the gully visable from Mohogany Flats. Also there are several active (nearly yearly) chutes on the east face of Rogers Peak. I was climbing on them in January, before the heavy snows hit the area in Febuary and March of this year.

If someone has official reports on avalanche data, I, too would be very much interested.
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Post by D.A. Wright » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:11 pm

An interesting topic indeed. The general population would never associate avalanches with Death Valley.
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Post by dbd » Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:19 pm

No publication,but...

In April 1975 a friend and I hiked across from Badwater on a Saturday morning to the Wildrose Canyon Road on Sunday afternoon. We turned up the north fork of Hanaupah Canyon. In the canyon bottom at one point we came upon a short stretch with about a dozen burro carcasses and a couple dozen Pinyon pine trees complete with root balls. The burros were thoroughly desicated so we believed the deaths to have occurred the year before. The Pinyon pines had come far below the Pinyon-Juniper zone. We concluded that this was an avalanche event.

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greatbasinguide
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Avalanche

Post by greatbasinguide » Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:01 pm

The presence of uprooted trees,, rather than snap off indicates that there was probably a rain on snow event.

A certain depth of snow was present, rain occured, soaked the snow pack and ground major climax avalanche, took the trees with roots down,,,

We had a bunch throughout the east side during the big rains of 86 and again the New Years event of 97.

Any chance the slides you saw were at either of those two sSprings.. 86 or 97?

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Old debris

Post by dbd » Sun Oct 08, 2006 7:11 pm

I've gone back and gotten out my photographic notes and my memory was off by one year. It was 1976. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures after we left the bottom of the main canyon that day. We felt pushed for time since we had spent the night at 1500 feet and needed to reach about 9000 feet that day to hit the trail down to the road. Then I dug out the topo's I carried. We left the north fork of Hanaupah Canyon at about 4400 feet to accend the ridge running west toward Rogers Peak. So the debris was at about 4000 feet.

It may have been optimistic to refer to the Pinyon root systems we saw as "root balls". The greatest depth of the roots was seldom greater than 12 inches and there were rocks entrained in the roots. These trees had shallow root systems in poorly developed, steep, shallow soils. The root systems had a diameter of half or less than the diameter of the branches. A contiental snow pack on these conditions would not give the soil much holding power. I doubt that significant rain would have been necessary.

I still have the papers after 30 years. I wonder how much of the data I have on disk now will still be accessible in 30 more?

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greatbasinguide
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Avalanche

Post by greatbasinguide » Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:21 am

You have cool artifacts,,, at least to your memory. Generally slides happen on the same paths, which is why there are usually no mature trees. In the sierra, alders show the paths, this time of year when the alders are golden the slide paths show as golden streaks.

Typically an unusual event is what takes out trees to the roots, usually heavy wet snow..

Poor burros,,, wrong place wrong time.. They could have been the trigger, I suppose..

You were lucky to see this example of mother nature at work.

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