Observation Date: 02/24/2016
Sheepshead, McDonald, and Glacier Peaks. Touring on all aspects.
Mostly sunny in the morning, and moderate cloud cover in the afternoon.
West gusts up to 30mph in the afternoon. Little new snow transport as most windward aspects had already been scoured from previous days wind events. There were isolated windslabs that were reactive to a skiers weight on some lee terrain.
New Snow: No New Snow
Windslab avalanche was intentionally triggered in a small gully feature by ascending skinning skier at approximately 7500′ on a north aspect. Max crown depth 50cm, propagated approximately 50 feet in width. One skier was caught and carried 50 vertical feet to the bottom of the skin track. HS-ASc-D1-R2.
Although this incident was relatively harmless, there was evidence of larger hard windslab crowns on steep terrain throughout the area. Bed surface was icy.
Thoughts on stability: there is a variety of snow conditions and bed surfaces depending on aspect and elevation. One layer of concern we found on the west face of Sheepshead was a crust-facet-crust sandwich with about 10cm of new snow sitting on top. We were not concerned for our day, but with more new snow would be something to keep in mind. Evidence of near surface facets, icy bed surfaces, and mixed conditions will make for some concerns after the next storm event.
Overall Missions snowpack: Total snow depth in the Missions is well below average for this time of year. I took some measurements on the NW face of McDonald peak at roughly 9000′ and found 50-150cm total snow depth. Snow line is at 5500′, making the drive to Ashley Lakes trailhead completely passable. The lakes are still completely frozen, and temperatures stayed cool all day. Large amounts of rime still exist on the high peaks making for very asthetic travel and an illusion of more snow then there actually is.
With that said we were still able to find ~40cm of perfect stable powder in the right places and there is plenty of snow to ski on all of the classics.
Observer: Blake Votilla