Variable is the word that best describes ski conditions of late. The fickle March conditions vary not only depending on what aspect or exposure to wind and sun, but also pertaining from one day and even hour to another. After the storm of last Wednesday, the open-field crust had a light enough coating of new snow that one could still stay on top, but with enough effect from the wind that the fresh deposit of snow would resist and break away in light thin slabs. After a few more freakishly warm days, top layers were beginning to create crust, but this had only attained the breakable variety, that nips at your ankles and makes a ski tour loud with the skkrree, skkrree, skkrree of pole plants against frozen encrustation. Powder could still be hunted down and found in conifer forest and north-facing slopes, but with temperatures in the 40s, it is inevitably heavy. Skiing next to trails that have been heavily packed by snowshoes and footprints can still provide a smooth, more easily controlled surface for gliding. With anticipation of new snow coming in sideways for most of Monday, we can continue to expect variations in surface conditions. The fresh snow may last at least until Wednesday when the mercury again will likely rise up past the 40 degree mark, and continue to do so daily until the weekend, when we may see more snow.