Spring is the time when we often venture deeper into the backcountry. Lower elevation slopes will be frozen in the early morning, but it does not take long for these slopes to heat up and lose structure as the sun hits them. Timing becomes very important in your trip planning in the spring. You can easily avoid the danger by avoiding the sun. Start on easterly-facing slopes and make your way west as the sun climbs higher and starts its trip across the sky. Think about your afternoon exit route. If you plan to be in the mountains later in the day, remember that west aspects, especially near and below treeline, can fall apart while the alpine corn snow is just hitting its peak goodness. Small Loose Wet avalanches can entrain enough heavy snow to knock you off your feet and push you someplace you don't really want to be. Monitor the surface snow conditions carefully. If the snow loses cohesion and you sink deeper than about eight inches larger more dangerous avalanches are becoming possible. If you encounter these conditions, you should find a cooler aspect to recreate on or simply call it a day.
Although it may feel like spring on your approach, upper elevation slopes on the cooler northerly facing aspects may still harbor more winter like conditions. Look for evidence of buried persistent weak layers and wind slabs before riding in steep northerly-facing terrain in high elevation areas where the snowpack has yet to go through a good melt freeze cycle.
Steer clear of any areas where you find overhanging cornices. Cornices often become more dangerous in the spring when they start to warm up.
CAIC forecasters will continue to do fieldwork and submit observations. This time of year, when fewer people are getting out into the mountains, we really depend on all of your observations to make accurate statewide avalanche forecasts. If you are getting out please submit an observation. We will issue statewide avalanche products Sunday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons starting today, April 16. We will continue to issue twice daily weather forecasts for 11,000 feet through the end of April.