Tell us what you're seeing out there.
Great snow at the pass. Recorded 3 natural slab avalanches on a variety of aspects, although confined to steep cross loaded aspects. Guessing they ran during the precip event on the 26th. In sheltered valleys surface hoar is growing tall, elsewhere the new snow is faceting near the surface. Quick pit revealed some easy shears around several crusts in the upper snowpack. Light winds, pleasant temps and fast snow made for a fun day.
Chilkat Pass Zone: D1-D2 Loose slides viewed from the road on the SW side of Three Guardsmen at 4,000 - 4,500ft likely storm snow - that ran during the precip event earlier in the week - over cliff bands and un-supported slopes. At 5,500ft on a SE-aspect, HS120cm, temp -16F. Several rain crusts down 20cm, 70cm and 80cm. The strong temperature gradient in the upper snowpack has near surface facets forming. Moderate compression test results down 20cm. Possible surface hoar formation at lower elevations, in protected pockets.
Chilkat Pass zone: Sunny Bunny (peak north of Nadahini). Clear skies, calm winds, 14 degrees F. SE aspect at 5400ft. 34-degree slope. HS=85cm. Weakness in the thin surface layers (top 5-10cm) failed easily. Below that, well-bonded mid pack all the way to the ground, consisting of a series of crusts and small-grained rounding facets. Stability tests found hard to very-hard failures at 60cm deep at the top of the lowest rain crust. Tough to trigger, but did propagate. Did a PST on this layer for fun, and scored PST 90/100 (End). Note: in thinner (windswept) areas found much weaker snowpack with significant and weak 2-3mm facets between crusts. Something to be careful of if traveling in thin areas.
Sunny Bunny zone: Coverage is improving, especially through the willows where skiing was possible both from and to the car. We found surprisingly good snow through most aspects and elevations, mostly made possible by 6-10cm of wind buffed, recycled powder (near surface facets). Snowpack depth ranged from 25-120cm. Deepest snow is found along sheltered north facing terrain and crossloaded gullies. In a 100 cm snowpack, we found weak snow near the ground (small grained facets), a decomposing faceted, rain crust at 30cm, between 30cm and 90cm was a series of thin windslabs that were non reactive in hand shears, And finally near the surface we found a 10cm fresh windslab overlaying small facets that did prove reactive in hand tests and on a small, 40 degree S facing slope. With uncertainty about the rain crust and the potential for larger terrain to hold a deeper windslab, we mostly stuck to sub 30 degree terrain and only went steeper on small, supported features. Skies were thin overcast, light S winds, no blowing snow, temps -4 C, and a storm brewing on the horizon!
Observations from Sunny Bunny (just north of Nadahini Proper): Chilly with a stiff north wind, but soft fresh snow made for good skiing from the Ridge/shoulder down to the top of the willows. Average snow depth in that section was about 45cm (ranging 30cm to 90cm). In deeper wind drifts, found punchy and generally soft/weak snowpack. The top layer of storm snow was about 6-15cm thick and very prone to sliding over the old snow, which has some icy crusts and slick surfaces in it. Triggered an intriguing little wind slab in one wind-loaded gully (about 20cm deep, 4m wide, ran about 10 meters). It was a good indication that the top of the snowpack is quite cold and weak, and extra caution should be exercised in any wind loaded terrain. For example, we decided against riding the wind loaded south face of Sunny Bunny which is quite large and holding lots of blown-in snow. Weather: skies 4/8 with good light most of the day. Temperatures around -6 C with moderate northwest winds.