The approach from Corner Canyon/Jacob's Ladder is as pleasant as always; one will first encounter snow in the meadow just after the trail crests the Draper Ridge.
It is already possible to see the stream tracing a slight depression through the flats and to hear the sound of running water below. I suspect the snow here will be totally unsupportable before very long--descending at around 6:30 pm, it was all about the plunge-step.
The snow continues along the gully, then onto the hillside as the trail traverses a more south-facing aspect. Here it is now nearly dry and it should be possible to follow the summer trail, or to pick one's way through the many social trails that wind between the boulders. The trail should be relatively snow-free until the slabs.
The slab's upper reaches are already exposed and running with water. The path of the summer trail, a rising traverse toward the drainage, is still completely covered, and resembles an expanse of huge, whites dunes. Here, too, it was punchy along the descent in the afternoon.
Once in the drainage below the main cirque, the trees have preserved much of the snow and it is, for the most part, supportable. As the trail winds upward to meet the gully below the moraine, the snow steepens, but still seems deep enough to remain supportable for the time being.
After gaining the gully, it's a snowy stroll with one last steeper step to reach the cirque moraine proper, then it's flat and supportable--only the boulders along the highest points are exposed.
Once in the cirque, as of 7 May, Collin's Highway appeared full of snow, the ledge covered its entire width, the new bolted 1st rappel station still buried by a drift. The line of the rappel was covered in ice, but throughout the day chunks came crashing down--there was a similar icefall, too, between the Flying Buttress and the Summit Wall that, perhaps a few days ago, might have been a legitimate ice climb! The final belay stance on the Lowe route also had snow, though the ledge atop the Center Thumb was clear.
Topping out on the summit revealed several challenges, as there is still a considerable amount of snow along the backside--so much, in fact, that we opted out of the normal climbers' descent and, instead, took the hikers' trail as it was less exposed and probably faster, with more opportunity for glissading.
At the very minimum, even light, alloy crampons would be recommended if traversing toward the South Summit and onto the Collin's Highway, for at least a short while. It's still possible to drop into the NE Couloir from just below the summit block, and though we managed to never set foot onto the snow facing that aspect, anyone trying to do it in smoother-soled, broken-in approach shoes will surely rue the day! To reach the base of the routes, however, though not absolutely necessary, for some, crampons may come in handy...
I've been saying, recently, that the conditions up high this year seem like mid-June, rather than early May. Based on the snow levels, mid-June was a pretty close estimate--and so the LPC season is soon afoot!