Our crew traveled northerly slopes between roughly 3000'-7000' today. The melt-freeze crust ( a remnant of the Jan.12-13 warm event) is weak and faceted, but supportable to skis. It offers fast, efficient travel, with the 15-20cm recent snowfall. Above approx. 5500', the series of light snowfalls since about Jan.20 have settled and bonded to the crust, and skiing becomes softer and deeper.
Isolated collapses were noted beneath the weight of a skier (see photo), within a specific elevation band around 5000', likely due to failure of faceted grains beneath the crust. No avalanches were triggered with this scenario, in spite of ski cuts on very steep, unsupported slopes below treeline. More interesting than alarming at present, but something to monitor, as incremental snowfalls continue to build slab structure Below Treeline.
This potentially- poor Below Treeline structure trends favorably away with elevation.
A profile at 6500' on a N aspect showed the following:
A total snow depth of 215cm. The Jan.12 crust (1cm thick, weak) down 45cm with a favorable bond to overlying snow.
Most recent storm snow 15-20cm (F hard) with a fair bond over 1mm near-surface facets and decomposing fragments (F+ to 4F hard)
The mid- and lower- snowpacks trend from 1F hard to P hard and present no concerns.
Overall, the snowpack Near and Above Treeline is strong, but the bond over previously scoured or wind-pressed surfaces should be monitored.
Dry Loose avalanches have potential to entrain, and run fast and far.