Hi everyone, hope you have enjoyed the fall. The Eastside air is getting crisp and the sun has that low angle glow all day here where the desert meets the mountains. We have had a pretty good start to the super-hyped El Niño 2015-16 snow season. Mammoth Mountain’s study plot at 9000′ has recorded 47.5″ of snowfall since October 16. With some cold, easily transportable snow on the ground, a few big wind events and some unseasonably warm spells in between cold snaps in the last month, the amount of settled snow currently at the plot is 16.5″. People have been getting out and skiing the goods in the backcountry, which haven’t been particularly good yet, but there is a general vibe of excitement around here for a real Sierra winter. There have been some fleeting backcountry ice skating reports as the cold snow blows away between storms. People have started carefully ice climbing on the thin waterfalls at Lee Vining Canyon. High Sierra alpine ice has been pretty close to non-existent this season due to the extended drought, but if cold/warm temps continue to fluctuate then we do have the possibility for ephemeral thin flows in more unusual places. One backcountry adventure climber was recently reported lost and there are some indications that he may have been the first avalanche fatality of the season in the Sierra. Down in the Owens Valley the weather and conditions have been stellar for prime rock climbing season, which kicked off with a super successful AAC Fall Highball Classic event. If you missed that you have to check it out next year. What a hoot!
At this point we are going to close out this Alpine conditions report for the 2015 season. We’ll be back next season of course but for now we will move our mountain conditions reporting over to the Backcountry Snow Report and Ice Report, as we always do, for all your winter conditions here in the Eastern Sierra. Thanks for tuning in everyone. Stay safe and enjoy everyone!