Yesterday on steep, exposed, northeasterly terrain just at tree line (10,400ft), we found very firm, smooth wind board conditions. The main concern was “slide for life” hazard, as a fall would be difficult to arrest, and with the thin conditions, hitting obstacles was a real concern. A full complement of crampons, ice axe, and a rope is likely the needed kit for the serious adventurer right now who wants to access steep and technical terrain. We on the other hand, being near the end of multiple days of ski touring, decided to minimize our exposure and stick to inconsequential terrain. Mellow-angle sheltered terrain, in all reality, still has the most forgiving surface conditions.
There have been reports of significant spin drift in the high alpine environment in tight and channeled terrain. A party in the Big Pine area on Saturday experienced continuous stream-like sloughing of spindrift while they were climbing a steep couloir. Good reminder to always be aware and observant as strong to gale force winds in the high elevations can erode, strip and redistribute snow in dynamic ways.
Even with overall stable conditions, the snowpack is extremely variable both in depth and structure across the forecast zone, so every drainage and mountain should be looked at with a critical eye to assess what is really going on in your specific area.