Without strong winds to drive Wind Slab formation, new snow amounts totaling 2 to 6 inches were not enough to raise the avalanche danger in the North and South San Juan, however up to 10 inches of new snow raises the hazard in the Sangres. CAIC forecasters Friday reported good bonding at the new/ old snow interface and right-side-up storm snow that fell Thursday night and earlier in the week. Although any wind-deposited slabs will be small and manageable, approach slopes over 35 degrees with caution if you encounter new snow amounts or drifts that exceed 10 inches.
Once the sun hits slopes today, expect natural sluffing from steep slopes, rockbands, and cliffs. Avoid traveling above cliffs or consequential terrain if you observe fresh rollerballs or pinwheels In the past, backcountry travelers have been caught off guard when accidentally triggering a small pocket of wind-drifted snow in steep terrain and getting swept down the mountain. You are more likely to trigger a small avalanche where the new snow fell onto a firm old snow surface or crust.
Large, sagging cornices dot the landscape. As you travel along ridgetops, give these beasts a wide berth, as they often break further back onto flatter terrain than you might expect. Recently, the forecast staff has observed cornices pulling away from the rock and creating motes. Although we have no reports of cornice failures in our zone, they are unpredictable and can cave off during peak daytime heating. The worst-case scenario is a large cornice failure triggering a deeper avalanche where weak snow lingers near the ground on northerly above treeline slopes.