Overcast skies all day in the Sawtooth Valley. A few very brief pockets of sun. Calm to light winds at all elevations (didn't get up high until around 1230 or so). Occasional S--1 flurries, with a 1 hour period of S-1 precip between 1330-1430 that accumulated a trace. Temperature were warmer than yesterday, but still fairly cool. 6-8cm of new snow since 3/8 at upper elevations, 1-2cm down low.
No recent avalanches observed, though visibility was pretty limited. I was able to kick off some pockets of wind slab in recently loaded terrain, but the terrain wasn't favorable for picking up steam. These slabs failed on top of the 3/8 crust. Recent drifts produced cracks that extended up to 5m.
Primary goal was to stretch the legs and look at weak snow along the way.
I dug three pits, looking for the character of the weak snow buried in the upper snowpack.
1. W at 8,200'. Sun, warm temps, and rain have done a good job of cooking down the snowpack here. The only obvious potential layer of concern was the current surface.
2. E at 9,900'. Very lightly wind-loaded/sifted area. 3/8 MFcr+FCsf down 10-12cm. There is a small layer of facets on top of this crust, and a 1-2cm interval of very weak facets underneath. This layer looked similar to the rain crusts+FCsf that I've seen in the past few days in the Sawtooths and Banner, but was clearly a sun crust. The underside of this layer produced 2x ECTPV, 1x ECTP1, and 1x ECTP4 (I forgot to isolate the back wall in this final test..). I'd expect a weak layer like this to produce avalanches if rapidly loaded. Underneath this crust there wasn't much of a slab on top of what appeared to be 1/20, just a bit stack of 4F- to F facets. Not terribly pretty. The bottom of this facet stack produced ECTNs in the upper teens to low 20s.
3. NE at 9,050'. Sheltered slope. 3/8 was not very prominent in this location (above the rain, not exposed to the sun). 1/20 was somewhat subtle as most of the slab between 1/20 and 3/8 is fairly faceted (1/20 down 45-50cm here). This layer (1/20) produced ECTNs in the mid-teens and 2x CPST 30-35/100 END. The slab above graded from F- to 4F at the base.
I did some hand-pitting on solars between 9,000 and 10,000'. Underneath the new snow, I found a similar FCsf+MFcr combo as I've seen in the Sawtooths and Banner. On top of the 3/8 crust, there is a 1cm interval of facets that likely formed on 3/8, shortly after burial. On this day, ambient warm temps and solar radiation helped to moisten the small amount of dry snow that was sitting on top of this crust. Shortly after that, cold dry snow fell on top of this layer, creating good conditions for melt layer recrystallization. Warm air temps and lots of sun tomorrow (Saturday) may help dampen the effects of this surface. If it were going to start snowing tomorrow I'd be fairly worried about it.
Last note: cold temperatures and lots of cloud cover have helped to prevent any sort of wet loose snow problem on solars here, which matches with I saw yesterday in Fishhook. I didn't find enough snow to have much of a wet loose problem on Horton, but there is enough loose snow in the Sawtooths (based on 3/10 obs) to see some D1-1.5 wet loose stuff happening, particularly with a trigger.