I spent the past two days traveling in the Western Wallowas around Burger Butte. The average height of snow above 7,000' was roughly 150cm or 5'. After spending the previous 3 days in the Southern Wallowas, the snowpack structure was similar, but with 3' less overall snow. In the alpine we found a degree of variability in regards to snowpack depth. On a north west aspect above 8,000' the Solstice Rain crust and sugar snow on the ground were only 4' deep. This was noteworthy as the average skier or rider weights enough to trigger weak layers 3-4' deep in the snowpack. It's good to keep in mind, these persistent weak layers will not completely go away for awhile, particularly on North facing aspects, where the overall snowpack is more shallow above tree line. Digging down to check on these layers and determine if strong snow sits above them (slab) would be advisable. When the snowpack is showing a high degree of variability in snowpack depth, you have an increased chance of triggering a dangerous avalanche.
Overall warm temperatures today, with some precipitation falling as snow around mid day. Relative humidity was pretty high.
Our group was using an "assessment" and then "stepping out with caution" mindset over the past two days. We didn't feel like wind slabs were problematic in our travels. Our biggest take home was on wind affected slopes, the weak snow at the bottom of the snowpack were much closer to the surface than we expected. Rather than roll the dice, we chose to travel through and ski slopes <35degrees.Close