Nothing is better than a cold bluebird day after a powder day. The snow has settled, and everyone had their powder fix the day before so a more calm and relaxed approach ensues. Unfortunately, the mountains around here are pretty tracked today, so it is a good time to venture into the backcountry or take a guided tour if you are not sure where to go and how to go about it safely.
Knowing the Madaro backcountry well, we took a lazy start to the day in the hope that most of the hard work of creating the first tracks in and out would be done for us. This was true for the short hike from the top of Madarao resort up to the mountain summit, with a well-established bootpack. We crossed paths with a group hiking back down from the summit, who without any avalanche or backcountry safety equipment had made the smart choice to not ride in the backcountry.
We dug several snow pits on different aspects, after our first pit on a north-westerly aspect directly below the summit, and a very concerning clean slab broke off at 45cm after two wrist taps! This is not good, and not safe to ride. The trees are thick back here which helps a lot, but with a deep slab this easy to trigger, those same trees could quickly become the cause of serious injury.
The trees on either side of the ridge were clear evidence of wind transfer of snow, so we moved to a different aspect with hopefully less wind effect and after testing several areas and another snow pit the results were much more suitable with a non-slab break at about 35cm after 8 wrist taps.
The rest of the line was enjoyed, with the usual backcountry safety procedures. For the small effort of some rather simple observations and tests, we enjoyed some of the best turns I have had this season. Unfortunately, the skin back out to the resort base was still required, and the snow at lower elevation was still thin enough to require some tree-negotiation.
The forecast is calling for 15-20cm tonight in the region, and the above storm cloud rolled through about an hour ago with heavy snow since. I would be surprised if we see any less than 50cm tomorrow. We can expect the freezing level to rise significantly tomorrow night, with a few days of rain to follow so rest up tonight to make sure you take full advantage of tomorrow!