Hazardous ice crust

Location Name: 
Lone/Stevens peak ridges
Region: 
St. Regis Basin
Date and time of observation: 
Thu, 01/28/2021 - 15:00
Location Map: 
United States
47° 26' 1.3992" N, 115° 45' 0.612" W
US


Red Flags: 
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain

Observation made by: Public
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Exposed elevations >6000 feet: Surface hoar and ~3" of loose snow from Jan. 17 on top of more surface hoar and the solid ice crust from the Jan. 12 rain event. Snow has been pushed around by wind, especially at higher elevations and in more exposed terrain, creating wind slabs on more protected aspects while leaving bare ice on west, south, and even east aspects of upper slopes. Traversing across wind slabs constantly triggers loose dry slides and exposing the ice crust. The ice crust varies in thickness and overlays sugary, faceted snow, feeling "hollow"; on more exposed western/southern aspects, where warming combined with the January 13 wind event, it is thick and relatively stable - generally too thick to break through on skis, but the ice is so solid it is difficult to dig in with ski edges. On more protected aspects, it is more variable and more frequently breaks through to the loose snow beneath; it was still very difficult to traverse steeper terrain on skis (had to remove skis and kickstep to get upslope). A fall on steep terrain would have resulted in a very long slide.

At lower elevations on protected aspects, ice crust was still persistent and surface snow was still loose, but surface hoar was not as developed so lesser potential for triggering slides. Trees on northerly aspects were relatively pleasant, as snow has been blown out of the overstory, filled in tree wells, and created more consistent conditions. 

Would recommend staying out of exposed wind-blown areas and sticking to more protected northerly aspects with canopy cover.

Any other comments about the observation or links to outside pages that have more info on the observation: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Yes
Cloud Cover: 
100% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Moderate
Precipitation: 
Snow
Air temperature trend: 
Static
Wind Direction: 
Southwest
Accumulation rate: 
Less than 1 in. per hour
More detailed information about the weather: 

Mostly cloudy in the morning, clouds moved in with light snow in early afternoon; moderately strong southerwesterly wind blowing snow on exposed upper slopes.