Howdy backcountry skiers and snowboarders!
Since the atmospheric river weather event hit 2 weeks ago, the backcountry has been in excellent conditions. This is definitely a good news-bad news scenario though. The coverage below 10,000′ and on sunny aspects at all elevations is sparse, but what we have is very supportable and skis well. The storm finished colder leaving a skiff of snow on top of rain crust and densely packed storm snow. Warm days with unusually high temperatures and cool nights have caused two favorable processes to occur: 1) on sunny aspects melt-freeze metamorphism has created very good spring corn snow conditions and 2) on steep, shaded terrain the cold snow that fell on top of dense crusts and rounds has faceted. Either way, we are enjoying the “Hedwig” conditions here in the Eastern Sierra. That’s right, we have an angry inch of sweet riding right now, and that’s all we need.
IFMGA Mountain Guide Jed Porter put this video report together from our tour yesterday and tells the story better than anything we can write here:
And here are some more photos from this past week too…
Temps are forecast to drop 20-25 degrees in the next 24 hours so perhaps the end of October is finally upon us. The other potentially good news is that an inside slider might freshen up the conditions a bit with 6-12″ by Monday and conditions will improve dramatically. As that happens, you should realize that conditions could get very touchy and even dangerous, especially in leeward areas due to wind loading which can multiply the amount of snow 3-5x and where it may land on facet/crust combination layers that can resist bonding and underlie unstable slabs. The USFS Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center is operating at reduced capacity this season but it does produce once weekly snowpack summaries that should be useful in your risk management. Also check out the USFS Bridgeport Avalanche Center for cross comparison and a snowpack summary from the northern part of our area. Have fun and be safe out there! ~ H