Conditions were as forecast. The potential for natural or triggered small wet loose avalanches increased as the day heated up. The current warming trend and possibility of poor overnight freezes will increase the likelihood and size of wet slides in the coming days.
This was a short tour from 1300-1600. Very warm day, with a light (gusting to moderate) wind in the Galena Summit mid-elevation terrain. High, thin clouds covered 50-60% of the sky.
N of McDonald Peak
This afternoon, I saw several fresh but very small wet loose slides in the Sawtooths, Boulders, and Smokys. The slide above was the only one I observed of any size.
A guide on Galena Summit reported a better than expected freeze this morning. At least on the lower angle (<35*) terrain we traveled through, the snowpack remained ski supportable until later in the afternoon. Boot penetration was mixed, sometimes supportable, sometimes breakable.
We dug on an 8400', NE aspect to see how the water at the surface was affecting the lower pack on a mid-elevation, semi-shady slope. The top 10cm was fairly saturated. The mid to lower pack (including the 12/11 FC) was mostly dry or slightly moist, but there was evidence (wet crusts, one frozen flow finger) of at least a little water making its way down deeper into the pack, but not as deep as 12/11.
At 9000', NE had a thin moist layer (or crust) on the surface, although it was dry below that - much dryer than our pit site.
A S aspect at 9000' had a thin snowpack (60-80cm), with a few semi-supportable crusts near the top and wet mush in the bottom half. This snowpack would have the potential for more gouging wet slides once the upper half loses strength with more warming.
Comments: Rose colored based on expected location.
Our terrain choices were dictated primarily by ski quality. We would have avoided very steep, sunny slopes while we were out, but we were primarily in mellow terrain.