Backcountry Snow Report – April 4, 2014

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Hi there backcountry skiers and snowboarders! Today’s conditions report features the Bishop zone (for a change).

If you are reading this then it is possible that, like us,  you have not yet hung up your skis and skins and moved on to other endeavors like so many so-called Sierra skiers and riders. We are pleased as powder that our High Sierra has seen over a foot of new snow from the last series of spring storms. Temps have been cold too, making for some excellent cold facet skiing in more sheltered and shaded zones up high. Expect to see a fair bit of wind crust/slab in more exposed locations. Don’t expect corn conditions up high until at least a few sunny days into the next major warmup and of course more so on the most sun-exposed aspects and angles.

The big factor now is coverage. Reports are up to the low 40’s in terms of % of average snowpack for April 1. So, is the Sierra 60% empty or 40% full?

The nutshell is: go buy yourself a decent pair of running shoes (Sage to Summit?) for the spring skiing in the Bishop area. Snow is very sparse to non-existent below 9.5K’ in all but the most snow choked, shaded couloirs and bowls, but there is, and will be, skiing. Up higher there is ok coverage but relatively thin. That means it won’t last very long. Hopefully we will keep it going with some more storms as currently forecast for mid-April… but we’ve heard that story before. Just prepare yourself for limiting spring skiing to targeted times and locations and you should have a blast, if not a full-on adventure. For those seeking longer tours in the area, don’t be afraid of a little ski MOUNTaineering, you know, carrying your boards around a lot and tearing up the rubber on your shiny new boots that you bought on sale at the end of 2011, or yes even carrying those damn trail shoes. In any case, go get it while you can and don’t write it all off yet.

For example, take a bike up to North Lake. Drive to just past the Tyee Lakes Trailhead on the South Lake Road (soft closure). Drive to the upper Buttermilk. Be creative. Have fun. Be safe. It’s just starting and the season’s almost over.


Leave a Comment