Toured from Mill City up the Red Cone approach ridge this morning around 8:15 AM. Snow was extremely high density, making for extremely difficult trail breaking (ski penetration: 40 cm). The surface snow appeared to be wind-affected throughout the forest. Winds were gusting at high speeds, transporting snow and pushing tree bombs off.
We got eyes on several large, natural avalanches around the Lakes Basin before the weather began to deteriorate, including several loose dry releases on the west/southwest aspect of the Sherwin ridge, and one very large one underneath Pyramid Peak.
We observed some cracking on the snow surface on the way up: most likely wind slabs. Additionally, we stomped on a 34 degree test slope in the forest and were able to trigger a ~3 cm slab. It broke but didn’t run more than a few feet due to the mellow terrain all around. On the ridge, wind slabs were significantly stiffer, resting atop soft snow. New snow accumulation at 10,000 feet was approximately 105 cm in the forest.
Lastly, we saw some debris on the steepest portion of Red Cone — possibly a wind slab or cornice fall. Visibility was deteriorating quickly, so we did not get a chance to get good eyes on these debris.
We stuck to sub-30 degree slopes on the ridge coming down as the storm blew in. Dense, heavy snow on low-angle slopes made for difficult riding, but it was good to see the sun for a few hours between storms!