The season thus far in the lowlands of the East Central has been great, with relatively light wind, a couple banner precipitation events, and cold temps preserving storm snow. With short days and conditions like these, optimal foraging theory dictates that one should "expend the least possible energy for the highest quality snow and fall line skiing."
The other side of this coin though, to quote the Utah Avalanche Center's Craig Gordon, is that structure in the East Central's southwest/west/northwest lowlands is a "gong show." HS is 50-65cm and deeper where avalanche debris has filled in. The upper 20-30cm of the snowpack is the fist hard, and now decomposing 8 Dec storm (and later, lighter snowfall), atop a 1-2cm November storm crust, with 10-20cm of 2mm depth hoar to the ground. Where one tilts aspect toward SW, there is surface hoar (sometimes rimed surface hoar) atop a sun crust from the 11-17 Dec. high pressure, and a similar, shallower weak - crust - weak structure below. With low sun angle and very cold temps, this crust retained SH into mid-afternoon yesterday ahead of the 20 Dec storm event.
Take away: Get while the getting is good, because Santa's sleigh is riding a warmer atmospheric river that is going to test these layers by the weekend (if incoming storms don't).