Backcountry Snow Report – May 6, 2014

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie Schwartz2 Comments

Skiers and Snowboarders…

…that is, if there are any of you left out there. After a lot of wrangling, I was able to find one interested and available ski partner for a 3-day tour who wasn’t busy shaving their legs for a bike ride, complaining about the short ski season. Although things look like late May-early June out there, conditions are absolutely all-time. We enjoyed some of the best spring skiing imaginable during the last high pressure window. No sun cups or penitentes. Just smooth and creamy corn everywhere, except for the highest, steepest, and most shaded north aspects. That said, even some steep north facing terrain is getting significant sun at this point and warm temps are helping to put these slopes into spring transition. Red Slate Couloir was a clear example of this on a feature that has no other terrain blocking to the North and West and therefore  has sun hitting the length of it from about 11am to at least 5pm. Guiding on Mt. Lamarck yesterday showed that there are still some isolated places where wintry snow persists.

As for coverage, expect late spring conditions, with a dramatic change around 10,000 feet. Below that there is about 500 feet of patchiness and below that there is dirt that has been snow free long enough that the flowers are blooming and the greenery is blossoming. We encountered a bear at over 11,000′. I am no biologist, but seems a bit early for bears in the high country. It is easy access for them right now, so be careful with your food on spring tours. By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, all roads are now open for access with Tioga Pass opening May 2nd.

Currently, there is a storm expected to drop 2-4 inches of snow at 12,000 feet today. If this pans out, then this surprisingly fun spring season will be rekindled and you will have to call in sick to work again. Hopefully that means you’ll call us so we can go to work. I’m busy skiing with a lucky SMG guest until Thursday, but we have other guides available, wishing you would call, wondering why you aren’t. When you are done waxing your legs, think about putting some on your boards!  – Howie



  1. Wish I could get away. It looks fantastic – and lots more fun than waxing my legs.

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