We headed up the Middle fork corridor to watch the storm roll in.
The morning started warm and wet. The snowline was just above our trailhead. The snow surface was moist until about 5000’ with rollerballs starting as early as 10 am.
The storm increased in intensity throughout the day. When we left the snow was falling faster than 1” an hour and the wind was gusting up to moderate.
The higher we got on the ridge the more shooting cracks we got underfoot and the larger results we got from wind slabs on test slopes. We noted one natural avalanche that had run very recently. It had a crown about 35’ across and ran about 300’. It looked like a wind slab that had failed from too much loading on a steep start zone.
We dug several pits looking for recently buried surface hoar. We did not find any and we did not get any propagating results in our ECTs. We got ECTNs on the new old snow interface with easy force. With moderate force we got ECTNs on the 1/1 crust and some CT results on a graupel layer just under that crust. In one location where the snowpack was thinner we got an ECTN on a well preserved layer of facets from early December.
On the way down the snowline had risen to about 4500’ moderate rain and totally saturated snow on the ground.
Given the rising hazard it was an easy choice to ski back down on sheltered low angle slopes on the way down to the car.
Climbed to just above 6300'
Forecast Hotline: 406.257.8402
Call or text an observation: 406.66AVYOB