Mostly sunny, but windy! Winds were a bit stiffer than anticipated and kept things cool, even in the sunshine.
Observed 5 crowns from natural Wind Slab avalanches. All were on steep rocky terrain with a northerly tilt. They likely were less than 48 hours old. We also witnessed a piece of a cornice fall off a steep rocky slope and tumble a couple of hundred feet.
Covered a bit of terrain in the Crystal Lakes and Morse Creek basins today despite a late start. There is evidence of the recent windy weather almost everywhere, with actively blowing snow, wind-press, textured or sculptured surfaces, new cornices, and of course, Wind Slabs. Most of Wind Slabs we found were near ridgelines big and small. Although plenty of wind effect was observed well off ridgecrest, we did not find any reactive slabs at these elevations. Cornices were fresh and actively building. We kicked a few and also jumped on small test slopes - both repeatedly produced results in wind-loaded areas.
Digging a few holes in the ground, I was able to find the 1/4 buried surface hoar just shy of 2 feet below the surface. The Christmas Crust was another foot below that, making it just shy of 3 feet down. While the buried surface hoar was easy to identify and was highlighted with tilt and shove shear tests, it wasn't too impressive during small column tests. It would eventually fail once "+1" after slamming on my shovel in a CT test; and failed +1 on a deep tap test. Whenever the layer did fail, it was a clean and planar break. Apart from this layer of concern, there were some interstorm layers in the upper snowpack that failed during small column tests, A layer about 10" down was the most consistent and appeared to be failing on some preserved stellars.