Observed a few small cornice failures on west facing terrain features near 6,500’. Likely occurred overnight last night. Observed many more cracks above cornices that didn’t release.
Signs of Unstable Snow
In addition to above observations, I found clean, easy hand shear failures above the late December crust on a somewhat wind sheltered SW aspect just west of the Timberline ski area. Weak layer appeared to be small facets above the crust. No signs of instability on this layer under my skis.
Observed Avalanche Problem #1:
Wind slabs that formed yesterday observed on west facing terrain near and above treeline, with scouring to crust in many areas on east facing terrain above treeline. These wind slabs were stubborn: No cracking underfoot/skis (and I was trying) except when undercut by a ski track, but easy hand shear failures. 4 finger to 1 finger hardness at the surface and increasingly soft below the surface. Thickness of yesterday’s wind slabs varied spatially, from 10 cm to nearly a meter.
Observed Avalanche Problem #2:
As stated above, I observed a few small cornice failure avalanches on west facing terrain, but many more cracks above cornices that didn’t quite release. I stomped on a bunch and all were firm and stubborn to unreactive today.