We have finally gotten enough snow to start skiing the side and backcountry goodies on Kelly Mt. I have been checking on snow conditions and offer these opinions.
The east side of Moose drainage (the sidecountry skiing accessed from the Kelly Canyon lifts) was essentially bare until last weekend (1/21) and now has just enough snow to ski (snow and sage brush ski pretty well!). Be careful of snagging brush and rocks but the snow stability is fine.
The west side of Moose drainage (Baugher Special, Jihad, etc) has had snow for a while and it is getting deeper and more inviting BUT it suffers from the same issues as the snowpacks reported in the BTNF and Gallatin NF avalanche reports…it is rotten underneath. I have consistently found a “layer cake” of thin melt/freeze layers and sugary facets in the bottom 30cm (12″) of the ‘pack. There is now 30-40cm (12-15″) of newer snow on top from our storm cylces this last week. It likes to fail in those underlying facet layers while the test column is being cut when the slopes are above 35* in slope angle!
I have chosen NOT to ski over there yet. I can see older ski tracks on those slopes but that doesn’t mean it is safe, in my humble opinion!
It wouldn’t be a big slide but with all the brush and trees it could pile up pretty deep.
I did skin across the top of KM to Norm’s Hill (Tele Hill) and had a great, soft snow ski down to the IFSC hut. If you’re into hiking, that slope is worth visiting now. The slope angle is less than the Moose runs and is not wind-loaded at the top like those slope often are.
Have fun but stay safe!