Yesterday was a surprisingly cloudy day, keeping solar aspects (east to south to west) much firmer later in the day than the day before. The very warm air temperature and clouds reflecting heat did cause them to soften however, and some small wet point releases were witnessed. The warm air temps and clouds also caused northerly aspects below 9000’ to get moist and thick. Today’s warm temps and lighter cloud cover (partly cloudy instead of mostly cloudy) will likely allow solar aspects to soften a big quicker, and increase the likelihood of small wet point releases.
The last snowfall in the area occurred on Sunday, and was accompanied by very strong SW winds through Monday. Since then spring like conditions have dominated the region with above average temperatures, sunshine (except for yesterday) and low winds. Windslabs that formed during the storm event have now stabilized, and the avalanche concern has shifted toward loose-wet point releases as slopes warm throughout the day from sun exposure and warm air temperatures. Cold clear nights have for the most part refrozen the snow, but last night, especially around the mammoth area, cloudy skies kept temperatures warm and above freezing almost as high as 11,000’. On the one hand, snow surfaces could soften more rapidly in areas where overnight clouds kept the snow surface warmer last night, but on the other hand continued clouds throughout the day could cut-down the sun slopes receive and lessen the amount they soften.
Besides loose-wet snow instability, the combination of firm melt-freeze crusts on solar aspects before they soften and areas with firm wind-board on more northerly aspects create an even greater hazard to backcountry travelers with slide-for-life conditions. Consider carrying and using crampons and an ice ax or whippet, and don’t be afraid to turn around or change your route due to firm conditions.