North Routt: The Gem
Persistent Slab possible on NW-SE NTL & ATL. Small to large
Steep wind-drifted slopes are the most dangerous and likely places to trigger an avalanche. Strong westerly winds have formed stiffer slabs of snow at all elevations. Near and above treeline slopes facing north to east to southeast are the most prominent places to find this problem, but due to the wind strength, expect to find new slabs in unusual places. Look for smooth rounded features below ridges, the sides of gullies, or the backside of steep rollovers as features to avoid. These fresh slabs sit above weaker snow layers and can be triggered from the bottom of a slope or a distance away. At lower elevations, stiff slabs are harder to find, and avalanches will be smaller, but approach any steep, open slope with caution. Even small avalanches can pick up speed in steep terrain and carry you into trees and rocks.
Beautiful day. Cold inversion kept the valley below zero in the morning, but the day warmed and was very pleasant. The winds were very mild at the elevation we traveled, but evidence of recent strong winds were everywhere.
Soft faceted snow at the surface over a 4 finger to 1 finger mid-pack slab over weak fist hard larger facets and depth hoar. We did have two ECTP23-24, which lines up the the weakening mid-pack slab. It’s still there, but triggering an avalanche is becoming harder, at least in the short-term. I still wouldn’t step up my terrain choices and tempt any steep consequential terrain, even below treeline. You could easily stay a float with skis on, but boot pen when down to the ground.