I guided a group on an instructional mountain course today in the Hospital Bowl area. It was a stormy day with steady snow and moderate to strong winds.
We dug a pit at the base of Hospital Bowl that had no results. We also didn't have any direct feedback of instabilities (cracking, whomping, etc) up to this point, so decided to venture up onto the benched terrain above Hospital Knob to sniff out some windslab. We definitely found windslab and experienced widespread cracking, whomping, and I was able to ski cut and even remote trigger (10m distance) unsupported features. I was actually fairly surprised to see how active things appeared. In an effort to further investigate what was happening, we dug a pit on a very small and safe 40 degree slope on a south east aspect at 2100. While cutting the column to do a test on, not only did the column fail but the surrounding slope slid into our pit. Unfortunately, we ran out of day light and had to ski out before I could get a good idea of what exactly was going on, but what I did find was the top 25 cm's was releasing as a fresh wind slab while simultaneously stepping down to the buried windslab and leaving a total crown depth of 50 - 65 cms. Needless to say we skied conservatively back to below tree line. Where we enjoyed excellent ski quality down to the trail at valley bottom.
While on the ski out, we witnessed a healthy avalanche run 3/4 path on Cheops - making me feel good about our high line morning skin track choice vs the lower route that most others took.
We had limited observations, but for what I saw,
I would be diligent with terrain selection if you venture into tree line/alpine features where the fresh and the buried windslabs are present.
The ski out is still in early season condition and a helmet is very nice to have.
ACMG Ski Guide