Yesterday’s tour from 7200′ to 8900′ showed just how much variability there was at the mid-elevations. Shady slopes skied very well with boot top facets hissing and sluffing when it got steeper.
By and large all slopes were currently stable, but there was a lot of weak snow around waiting for a load (in some cases not much of one). Some of the steeper banks at the bottom of Mail Cabin (Main Fork and East Fork) had a thick layer of fist hardness facets at the base of the snowpack and could activate with a decent storm. More widespread was the layer of surface hoar and near surface facets that is being SLOWLY buried by yesterdays and todays new snow. On southerly aspects the surface hoar is sitting on a sun crust from 12/12. On more northerly aspects it is sitting on a thick layer of near surface facets from the past week’s cold temperatures. Those near surface facets are more well developed in areas that were not heavily wind affected previously. The wind skins and wind slabs are starting to break down and facet to a softer surface, but aren’t nearly as weak as the protected areas.
In our pit on a NE aspect at 8700′ we found no failures in the whole pack and consequently no propagation potential. Thicker snowpack areas are pretty strong except for the surface. That being said we did get some decent localized collapses on our ascent up a hardened skin track on Moosebrush Bowl. So thinner areas (like that SE aspect at 8300′) will be a concern in the future as far as a weak foundation.
Ski today, dig tomorrow (or when we see any significant snowfall in the future).