Hey there Ice Climbers. We are just on the tail end of another storm system that has hit our area. The Sierra got hit with heavy but warm precipitation in the form of rain to 10,000′. This brought ample moisture and helped to lock down the bottom part of our snowpack as well as ensure plenty of moisture up high for this springs “freeze – thaw” ice season.
Avalanche Danger remained high throughout the storm in addition to several road closures and parking issues. We were unable to access the ice venues for much of the storm cycle, however yesterday we ventured up to the ice of Horsetail Falls taking a slightly lower approach path than usual to avoid the runout zones of some of the avalanche paths that threaten the approach.
We were happy to have snowshoes to keep us on top of the newer fresh snow that had fallen on top of the rain layer, and we carried avalanche gear (Beacon, Shovel, and Probe) and spent the first day of our course learning how to use them and how to identify and avoid avalanche terrain during these avalanche cycles.
We were able to find ice on horsetail that was exposed. there was no running water in the middle as usual and this is potentially due to the low temperatures.
Much of the base of the falls was covered by snow that has sluffed off and accumulated. We also saw signs of avalanche debris that had slid from the steep slopes to the lookers left of the Ice Fall.
The climbing was a mix of snow, good thick ice, and layers of rain crust and snow making for some “interesting” alpine conditions.
I was able to dig out the bolts on the right hand side of the ice where we were climbing.
The day started with light snow but turned into a beautiful sunny day.
There was a large group at Roadside ice and hopefully they were able to knock some of the snow off the ice there.
Tatum Falls seemed well covered by snow and threatened by avalanches and sun exposure. The Pap Smear (pictured below) seems to be forming up nicely and it will be interesting to see what some sun and cold temps do to this formation that is still waiting a complete FA
As we get closer to March June Lake Ice tends to get cooked by the sun so beware of rapidly warming temperatures.
A break in the storms as well as a cold snap will give us some great temps for ice for the next few days and then another smaller cold storm Wednesday night into Thursday should give us a nice refresh of soft snow.
Check back for more conditions and please feel free to share any photos you may have of your trips to the ice.