Since the storm on Monday (12/12), which delivered 6-18" of low density snow, the week has been dominated by fair weather with generally north/north north east winds and unseasonably cold temperatures. Current backcountry skiing and riding opportunities are isolated to sheltered areas around the peaks that have maintained snow from previous storms. Skiers and riders should be aware of possible wind slabs and instability at the base of the snowpack, a result of the early snowfall and cold temperatures which has likely created a persistent weak layer.
The shallow early season snowpack has limited field investigations. So, backcountry travelers should use conservative travel practices and carefully evaluate slope stability through observations and test results. If you have observations, please consider submitting them HERE
To date, the peaks have received ~38" of snow much of which has melted, been redistributed, or sublimated since falling.
Your first trip plan this season should start with avalanche rescue practice.
Winds (50+ mph) have continued to strip windward slopes throughout the week, with ample snow available for transport early in the week. Watch for wind loaded slopes on leeward ridgelines, and previous cross loading on other slopes and gullies.
Previous accumulations have started to facet on steep isolated northerly slopes. Post storm and early season observations have been limited, however, reports of low angle collapsing on north aspects have been noted. When in doubt dig and watch for obvious signs of instability, such as cracks and shearing of wind layers.
The limited skiable/rideable terrain is now concentrated in chutes and gullies, primarily through the redistribution of snow by wind. These areas also present the highest probability for wind slab avalanches. Assess this terrain carefully.
Avalanches are unlikely below treeline, due to a thin snowpack. The exception is in loaded gullies and terrain features that accumulated snow transport from wind. The current snowpack below treeline continue to be too shallow for efficient travel; and rock and tree hazards are abundant.