Toured up the east fork lake fork drainage to check out alpine conditions. We passed an active wolf area along the trail (freshly eaten elk carcass) photo 1.
Cold air in drainages has held soft snow and surface hoar.
The past few small storms has created wind textured snow surfaces with isolated small wind slabs that broke under weight of a skier but did not move. (Photo 2).
Snow surfaces varied widely from turn to turn, from sun crusts on southern aspects to soft snow in wind protected shady aspects. We had isolated small loose snow sluffs initiated by skiers in steeper terrain than did not run far, but we were mindful of how even small sluffs can still pull you over cliffs, or easily twist a knee. As a result we practiced good communication and skiing one at a time in consequential terrain, staying in safe spots with a good line of sight on our partners.
Our main concerns were fresh wind slabs, small loose snow sluffs in shady terrain, and being mindful of the spatial variability between turns. The sun did little yesterday to soften the snow surface in sunny aspects on the terrain that we traveled. We made mental notes of where we saw surface hoar development and in general snow surfaces prior to any snow we might get this next week. It’s a mix bag out there and expect all forms of snow in your travels. We traveled primarily on west, NW aspects.