It felt quite damp at the trailhead with the temperature hovering near the freezing mark. Cooler temperatures and strong winds welcomed us at the ridge (above 6000ft), which also kept the snow dry and cold. Strong winds actively drifted new snow onto the lee sides of ridges.
Today my partner and I ventured into the Pea Gravel Ridge area just east Mt Hood Meadows Ski Area. Our objective was to check the distribution of new snow and to see how high the rain/snow line from the night of 12/29 extended. Generally, we observed 12-15 inches of new snow that now sits on top of the Christmas crust. Unfortunately, at many lower elevations this new snow is now capped with a new rain crust up to approximately 5800 ft. This rain crust formed on the evening of 12/29 during a warm period in the storm. This made for challenging and breakable travel conditions at these elevations.
Above 5800 ft, we started observing a drier snowpack, but strong winds caused significant loading. On easterly aspects we found sharp cornices along the ridges and pillow-like slabs on the slopes below. These were clear indicators for us to avoid steep, open slopes on this side of the ridge and to stick to lower angled sheltered terrain.
Layer Depth/Date: 6-12 inches
Comments: Slabs were generally on the shallower side, but will continue to grow in size/distribution as new snow continues to drift.