A piece of fiction:
I was touring up in Mineral Fork of Big Cottonwood yesterday. Never liked it in there – spooky, full of ghosts. Always feel claustrophobic. Know the parable of the scorpion and the frog?
The persistent slab and I talked for a bit on the uptrack. Snow tests hinted at stable snow.
“It’s ok, come on into my terrain,” she said.
“But I don’t trust you, I don’t like it.” Indeed the powder looked good in Moonlight.
“No, really, ” she beckoned – “it’s ok, come on in.”
I hesitated. Then dropped in. And the slope shattered like a windowpane. “But I thought you said….”
“Sorry. It’s just my nature.”
Snow tests may (as above) provide false stable or false unstable results, but they are only one tool in the toolbox. Some people – after years of being surprised by facets and depth hoar – will avoid steep slopes harboring the weaknesses until spring. Sometimes it only takes seeing depth hoar or facets pouring out of a pit wall to pack up the backpack and call it a day. Or season.