Early season tour Sunday (yesterday) up Bruin's ridge & down 8812 bowl, short lap to finish the day on the 8812 ridge North of Balu pass.
Weather was unsettled & warm, with flurries throughout the day. Temps ranged from -3 on the ridge (2450m) with a moderate West wind to 0 degrees and calm winds at 1800m. Visibility was mainly poor, though there were brief periods of happiness with weak sunshine.
The snowpack is variable with an average of 115cm above tree line. The early season crust is buried in the lower to mid third, location dependant. We did not observe any slab formation above the crust, but I would expect there would be soft slab in immediate lee zones. Snow density above the crust was fist in strength for the most part. Skiing was good where undisturbed. The old tracks have set up quite firm in the warm temps & things were exciting bumping over them in the flat light. Independent leg action was the word of the day. Ground obstacles for the most part are covered above tree line, with the occasional large bear eating boulder standing sentinel in the murk. Unfortunately these are hard to spot from the uphill side and they would laugh at you with merciless joy as you were unceremoniously dumped onto flat landings on the downhill side. Good fun!
No new (last 24 hours) avalanche activity was observed, however, visibility was poor so I am unsure if this is a valid observation. I would expect that there is some sloughing (sluffing) in steeper terrain running on the crust, and possibly small & mid size slab development in immediate lees in the high alpine. How well this is bonding to the old surfaces, I do not know.
Travel was good in the Alpine with ski pen between 5-20cm. Working thru the tree line is the usual early season bushwhack. Patience, perseverance & the motivation to boot pack short distances helped get through the jungle.
Very busy with a full parking lot and the ringing echos of whoops of joy up at Balu pass. The trail was in moderate condition for the morning Balu crawl. I don't know what was making me slower; my rusty travel skills or all the social interactions I was engaging in going uphill! The afternoon slide out was akin to an adventure movie going by the name of 'DQ Frosty Slide from Hell'. Good fun if you have sharp edges & the quads for protracted snowplow sessions. Sections of the trail lower down are melting out rapidly with the warm temps & walking was a good option. Creeks and bridges may have had snow on them midweek, but not any more. I observed at least one lawn dart attempt to check water conditions. Control is a must on the slide out due to the numerous natural & manmade obstacles, especially the moving ones.