As a group of 4 of varying ability we set out for the day with our sights set low and for safety/ fun to be our main goals. After a rather enjoyable lap from the Liberty bowl area, just a few hundred feet west of the entrance to spire gully, we decided to take a second.
On the up track a member of our party expressed their desire to ski in the sun. As a group we agreed that it was a valid desire and decided to entertain. We chose the boulder field at the base of north early winter spire on the west aspect. Upon punching a new track we begun to find that the slab we had found elsewhere appeared to be much stronger and thicker than expected. Due to the varying levels of experience and comfort, we began splitting up as a group all staying within line of sight and shouting distance. One member stayed at the last switch protected by some tree's. I had a skin malfunction and booted up below the northwest face of south early winter spires where i was protected from potential overhead hazards due to the overhanging nature of that spot, and out of the potential slide path from the gully between north and south. Another member found protection for their transition below a large bolder on the west face of NEWS, and lastly our most experienced member skinned/booted up to a steep notch just a little North of NEWS. When all in place the member under the boulder dropped first and found cover at the base to wait for the rest of us. Second our highest member dropped in and quickly made a ski cut that triggered a sluff that they were able to manage well by traversing into cover skiers left. Allowing the sluff to entrain and continue to run the skier continued their descent skiers left of the slide with a large area for escape if needed. Upon observing the member safely make their way to a meeting point with member one, i descended third, met our first two and then our forth descended and met the rest of us. From there we descended without incident at times split into two parties of two from time to time continually meeting back up as we continued to navigate the tree's, back to the sleds.
Upon conversation our group had all realized and decided that the information we learned from this event was that the crust we felt elsewhere in the shadows had been amplified on sunny aspects during the prior warming event before the new snow. We also noted that the ability for the new snow to entrain may have in part been the function of it being later in the day and the warmth allowing the new snow to consolidate independently of the crust since we did not find this characteristic or instability elsewhere throughout the day. Another note we found was that the new snow had much less cohesion to the crust on sunny aspects comparatively to the shaded ones. Looking out towards Whistler and Cutthroat peaks we were able to see the remnants of numerous slides that had taken place during the last cycle, all evidence seen, it appeared to be related to the amount of sun that the slope received.
In conclusion our group dynamics help produce a fun and relatively safe day. Our one downfall that i have found in reflection is the lack of communication on the skin track when we entered into terrain of a different aspect. I think it was obvious to all of us that the new snow on that aspect had not bonded to the crust as well as the aspects we found earlier in the day, but little conversation was had about what that could mean for our party.
The weather was blue skies, cold enough to freeze beards on the up track in the shade, and very warm in the sun.