Observed wet loose avalanches on multiple aspects (E, W) on south climbing route (between 4.2k' and 4.6k') along several gullies bordering the ridge in the morning (before 10:00 PDT). All debris was small (D0.5~D1), but hinted at minor instability low early in the morning.
Signs of Unstable Snow
Did you see shooting cracks?
Did you experience collapsing or whumpfing?
Please see observations above.
I didn't dig a snow pit or do any hand shear tests as the ridges we were traveling on were "low risk" due to how wind scoured they were.
Wandering off the ridge (booting it, both with and without crampons) resulted in more deep snowpack though (barely over 1'), which forced me back to less deep snowpack for stability and safety reasons.
Several folks attempted to glissade down sections between 5k'~7k' and were met with non-ideal glissade conditions due to temperature/firmness of snowpack.
Observed Avalanche Problem #1:
D0.5 as noted above.
Observed Avalanche Problem #2:
Between 4.6k' and 6.5k', I observed drier conditions resembling wind fetch. My partner and I were kicking down small carbs (3cm~5cm diameter) with snowshoes and crampons.
Up higher (around 6.7k'~7.7k'), I observed isolated wind slab conditions along the ridge, thus I purposely stuck to lower coverage/elevation slopes with my crampons to mitigate potential risk from triggering a slab. That being said, several skiers rode the ridge (both from the summit and below the summit) without triggering any avalanches (just kicking down carbs).
Afternoon/evening winds were around 20+mph, blowing rime ice S down the crater from the mountain.
I suspect that much of the risk on Mt. St. Helens is in the gullies and less disturbed snowpack on opposing ridges.
Observed Avalanche Problem #3:
Cornices were starting to form on opposing ridges to climber's route in the morning. The overhangs appeared to be approximately 3".