Spent a long Sunday headed up to Duck Pass, wrapping around the crest above Duck Lake, and then descended Blue Couloir back to the Lakes Basin. Given the variety of elevation, terrain, and aspect, I encounter a wide range of conditions.
The ascent up the Duck Pass trail was mostly beautiful, soft snow holding from last week's storm with good depth. There didn't appear to be much traffic, and most of the rolling hills up the trail were untouched with the exception of a well established skin track. The track occasionally passed near or over suspiciously covered riverbeds and lakes. With the warming weather and solo travel, I opted to rotate around several of the lake crossings (Skelton, Red). Snow bridges on the river bed appeared to be collapsing in places, as with lake coverage.
Snow remained soft until the base of the pass, where soft sections alternated with wind board, and icy spots. Ski crampons were helpful for a section of the climb up the pass, but otherwise unnecessary. Collapsing windboard, cracking underfoot, was observed in some places, as well as on the other side of the pass, but without propagation. Toward the top of the pass the snow appeared more wind effected, with more scouring and some accumulated snow banks. While climbing one snow bank at the top of the pass, I found some more concerning breaking of large blockings of snow underfoot, although further propagation was not observed (likely, at least in part, due to very modest slope angle).
Crossing the pass, snow conditions were more ragged, with considerable windboard, snow drift formations, and general wind sculpting, mixed with softer deposits. Coverage remained extensive despite the warm southern aspect, although although more wind effected areas were starting to wear thin. Traversing the crest up to Blue Couloir was fairly straightforward with ample stable coverage.
Blue Couloir itself was in very poor condition. Rock edges have begun to emerge across the couloir, and the entire descent is marked by heavy formations of "three dimensional snow", making for highly inconsistent surface conditions and a difficult navigation. Below the couloir, the return to Lake Mary was again marked by seemingly limitless soft, untouched snow conditions.