Today we snowmobiled to just beyond the McGee Creek TH, at approx. 8000'. We left the TH around 0900. Snow surfaces in open areas off of the McGee creek road were mostly supportable to a sled with rider. with the occasional breakable bit to catch a ski. There was much wind affected snow with some very sculpted sastrugi. Off the road there are many lurking rocks and abundant sagebrush just below the snow surface.
We climbed and skied a N facing couloir that consisted of P to K hard supportable windboard. We found old debris covering the apron of this chute down to McGee creek which had a strong snowbridge across it. Winds were calm to light out of the South in this particular terrain feature. We observed no active snow transport, but there was evidence of previous spindrift deposits in the couloir. Boot penetration and ski penetration was a couple of centimeters at most. This firm surface showed signs of near surface faceting as any surface snow scraped away was loose and angular. Ambient temperature in this shady feature was cold enough to begin to freeze an exposed water bottle worn on the shoulder. A small, soft slab avalanche of unknown age (48-72 hours?) had obviously run from the West side of the couloir putting a couple hundred linear feet of debris down the chute. This was somewhat smoothed over by wind deposit and settlement, and provided chunky but decent skiing.
Where the angle of the couloir eased and the terrain opened up at about 9600' there were more patches of wind sculpted and textured faceted snow that was quite shallow. We did not top out the ridge because the snow quality obviously deteriorated to a less tolerable level of variability.
Leaving the drainage bottom on a south facing morainal feature around 12:30 proved challenging as warming, shallow, faceted snow was ready to swallow snowmobile tracks, and necessitated some finesse and heavy lifting to move a stuck sled.
At a distance we observed an old crown from an avalanche that obviously ran down to the ground on a NE facing shoulder of peak 11,240' in the Baldwin Cirque. Given its location and size I would wager that this ran during the last storm cycle, but is still obvious. The crown was probably at an elevation between 10200' and 10400'. The track and deposition zone were out of sight from our position.