Sat 12/19 started as a pretty calm day after a stormy day on Friday. But it ended with moderate snowfall and strong to very strong winds from the Southwest that continued to load lee slopes. Our tour took us out to Steeple rock today to check out coverage and ski some protected glades. Hand shear tests on approach showed a crust from 12/18 that was falling on isolation above cold fluffy snow. However, we did not see any natural or skier triggered releases through the day. Skiing was quite good down to 4500' where the 12/18 crust gets more aggressive. Roller balls from tree releases were plentiful on South aspects but remained soft.
Just after 12 the winds really started to pick up and the ridge line and while exiting Steeple Rock along a ridge we had 3 large settlements in the snow below. Unstable snow exits and with the wind loading in the afternoon and the forecasted warming the avalanche hazard felt like it was increasing through the day. Winds have been the dominant force in affecting the snow pack over the last few days.
Keep and eye on the forecast and the HR weather station for more information on Sundays conditions as this warm front passes over us.
Sam Luthy - NWAC Pro Observer