Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – January 12, 2015

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. I hope you have been getting out in the backcountry lately. But not in the Eastern Sierra. Here, cold temps and north winds turned to warm temps and sun,

Horsetail Falls 30 minutes after the middle dropped out on 1/10.

Horsetail Falls 30 minutes after the middle dropped out on 1/10.

which turned to warm temps with clouds and showers. When I say warm, I mean above freezing temps early Saturday morning up to ~8500′ that contributed to the calving of a large central section of the Horsetail Falls ice climbing area Saturday afternoon.

And when I say showers I mean light rain to 9000′ and light flurries above that. We are losing our snow down low, very quickly and any snowpack that has not been stripped away by the wind or melted by the sun is thin and highly variable. In skiable locations above 9000′, and there are only a few, expect to find 30 to 60 cm max snow depth. The surface conditions will range from breakable sun or wind crust to surface facets to spring-like snow on the sunny and windless days up high. Basically, as we discussed in the last report, we are having a repeat of last year and we all feel like we are stuck in the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.

I think we will keep posting clips from that movie until winter decides to come again. This is the 4th season of drought and we are starting to wonder if there will ever be a tomorrow for the Sierra Nevada. Right now there is no hint of another potential storm until the end of the month, and even then it looks sketchy.

So hang in there everyone. Maybe the G-hog will see his shadow and we will get 6 more weeks of winter on the back end. We continue to plan for the best outcome this season, but  preparing for the worst. Remember that we had some of our best bc days ever in the last 3 drought seasons, just a lot fewer of them and the season was done earlier. It’s just mid-January and all is not yet lost – especially for one of our guides Justin Lichter aka “Trauma” who is thru-hiking the PCT this winter. Could this be the best possible year to do it? Follow along on his blog HERE and his satellite tracker HERE.




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