Old hard slabs overlying weak facets cracked around me to a distance of a few meters on northeast-facing slopes above 10,500 feet. These slopes were obviously exposed to the strong winds about 2 weeks ago.
Slabs: P+ hard, 4-10cm thick
Weak layer: 3mm depth hoar, F- hard
This makes me nervous about how all the faceted snow out there will behave once loaded with a lot of new snow.
I headed up to the Tyee drainage above the South Fork of Bishop Creek to get some pre-storm observations about coverage and the existing snowpack.
The snow cover is very weak and faceted. It is also discontinuous except in chutes and bowls near- and above-treeline – i.e. avalanche paths and start zones.
Occasional old hard slabs rest atop the weak facets. Some of these cracked around me and gave me propagating test results. This may be a minor concern now, but I expect the weak snow to fail even more easily and widely once loaded by a bunch of new snow.
32*F at 10,000ft at 11:15am.
On an east aspect at 10,000′ at 11:15am: Tair = 0 C, Tsurf = -4 C, T10 = -2 C. Sky = Clear. Wind = Calm. Surface forms = thin melt-freeze crust over facets. HS = 15 cm.
It stayed clear and calm all day with temps above freezing but shaded slopes staying much colder.
There’s not much snow below about 9,000 feet.
Between 9,000 and 10,000 feet there’s enough snow to travel on shaded aspects but it is discontinuous and shallow.
The most continuous snow cover in shaded chutes and bowls near- and above-treeline.
SW-S-SE aspects are largely bare.
I biked from the gate to the trailhead and skinned up the trail. Below 10,000′ I walked on my “descent” to avoid gaining speed and hurting myself.