A really nice day in the mountains After some early morning mist, clouds dropped and dissipated leaving mostly sunny skies. Temperatures warmed noticeably around 1pm, but light and cool NE winds kept upper elevation areas feeling cold.
No new avalanches were seen.
Below Treeline: I was surprised at how much wind effect there was below treeline. Some SW-W slopes were scoured back down to rock. Evidence of wind transported snow was easy to find and even extend into forested areas. However, we did not see any wind slabs as we traveled.
Rollerballs were prevalent below treeline around 2pm, however, no loose wet avalanches were observed.
Wind: Nearly all snow surfaces in the near treeline band are wind affected. This created a highly variable surface. Winds were typically loading SE-S-SW aspects. The most consistent wind slabs I found were on SE slopes. This is an unusual loading pattern. Normal cornice lines were eroded back. Normally wind-loaded slopes were stripped bare. Wind-affected snow extended well off the ridgelines all the way to the bottom of the terrain features.
Loose Wet: Trees started dripping water around 1pm as the temperatures noticeably warmed. I was able to trigger small rollerballs on a SW asepct at 6200' around 2pm, but these pinwheels quickly fell apart as they descended. A cool NE breeze was keeping all but the most wind sheltered slopes cold and dry. A thin layer of moist surface snow was found on S-SW slope as I exited the field.
Late-January Facet/Crust: The 1/30 interface was down 10-18" (25-45cm). On sunny slopes the 1/30 is a very thick and strong melt-freeze crust with the snow well bonded to it. On shaded slopes, the upper crust in the sandwich was 1-2" thick and contained a very strong layer of ice. The layer of facets was thinner than other areas I've seen it, only 1" thick (2-3cm, FC 1-1.5mm). No snowpack tests failed on this layer today.