Backcountry Advisory 

As of Wednesday, May 23

Unseasonably warm temperatures have resulted in very little overnight recovery of the surface snow. Without the essential melt freeze crust the surface rapidly loses stability and natural sluffing will begin to occur. As the warming permeates down into the snowpack and more of the underlying layers become isothermal, the instability may also affect more than just the surface snow. As we saw in late April and again last week, the November facet layer is still a lurking weakness, and has the potential to produce very sizeable avalanches. We could begin to see releases involving the full depth of the snowpack in some isolated areas.

Over the past week, cornice fall has been the most significant activity in the backcountry. With the forecast for continuing warm temperatures and some cloud cover, we can expect to see this activity increase. Mature chunks are falling off, and in some cases have also been pulling out a deep slab on the underlying slope.

At this time, travel in the mountains is not recommended. The sticky snow makes for difficult going, and the potential for large avalanches will continue to increase throughout the week as the snowpack becomes more rotted. Put off your tour until the overnight temperatures start to drop again.

The backcountry avalanche danger is rated as MODERATE in the morning hours. This will increase as the day goes on. Check for the most current conditions before you head out.

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