We took the road up to Skyline from the parking area on the North side of Steven's Pass, across from the ski area.
Jan. 24, 2016, 11:30 a.m. PST
Weather: Partly Cloudy with sun breaks, just above freezing temps, almost no wind.
Snowpack: In the first pit we dug (East Aspect, see above), we found 22cm of new snow (fist hardness) which firmed up as it reached a 1cm ice crust (pencil hardness) at 22cm depth. Below this the snow was finger hardness all the way down to a clear weak layer between 50cm and 53cm (fist hardness). Below the weak layer the snow continued to be 1 finger hardness all the way down to the bottom of the pit at 100cm. The weak layer at 50cm depth contained large-ish loose grains (decomposing and fragmented particles with the look of near-surface facets) and we assume it was the PWL we have been reading about. In the second it we dug (West aspect, see above) we found softer snow with a very similar profile. The top layer was fist-hardness new snow to 22cm where we found the 1cm (pencil hard) ice crust, then fist-hard snow again to 50cm, where we did find the weak layer again, though it was harder to detect in the softer snow. Below 56cm the snow was firmer (4 fingers) all the way down to 110 cm. Two compression tests (one in each pit) delivered results of progressive collapse at the ice crust (moderate loading) and sudden collapse of the weak layer at 50cm (hard loading). It did not look like recent rains had any significant impact on the snowpack near the ridge crest (5000 feet) on Skyline Ridge. At lower elevations (below about 4400 feet), in the trees, the snowpack had been pounded into stability by tree-bombs and rain.
Area Description: We dug a couple of snow pits near the ridge line on Skyline Ridge. The first pit (11:30) was dug on a low angle (20 degree slope) East aspect (95 degrees) on the south side of the ridge, above Skyline Lake at 5157 feet. The second pit (1:30) was on a low angle (10 degrees slope) west aspect (285 degrees) just on the north side of the ridge at 5276 feet.
Avalanches: None observed.
Observation by Nick Lyle
Did you see any avalanches? No
Did you trigger any avalanches? No
Was anyone caught in an Avalanche? No