Eastern Sierra Ice Report – March 9

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Ice Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Viren PerumalLeave a Comment

Hey there Ice climbers – It has been a few weeks since my last report and boy a lot has changed. Winter came in full force for a few days. Cold nights created some great ice conditions as well as conditions for a buried facet layer in our snow pack and 3-6 feet of snow in the region bumped the avy danger really high – not only last weekend during the storm but several days afterwards with remote triggering events and a funky persistent weak layer that was reactive. The high winds this week has kept us on our toes with the formation of new wind slabs and periods of sun and warm days this week have created wet loose avalanches in both Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake.

Please Check the avalanche report updated every day at 0700 at … http://esavalanche.org

Consider getting some avalanche training….

And carry Avalanche Rescue equipment for everyone in the group when entering avalanche terrain.

In the past 2 weeks I went from guiding fat ice in North Gully and Horsetail to wallowing in thigh deep snow to approach, and everything in between.

We cancelled or changed itineraries of several ice programs during the storm cycle due to Avy danger, and carried Beacon shovels and probes today, and finally have had a use for the snow shoes a few days this season to approach climbs.

Lee Vining Canyon

I guided Ice in Lee Vining today – Chouinard still has plenty of fat ice and even some of the ice on the right side is thicker than its been all season.  The main wall is thin on the bottom and sees sun around noon. We witnessed several large spontaneous icefall events and climbing on the main wall may be out for this season

The approach is better in places and punchy in places.  I stayed on the south side of the creek the entire way following the approach described earlier this season.  The creek is still high due to Edison working on the generator. This forces the approach to hug steep slopes and avalanche terrain which much be dealt with caution and good judgement.


June Lake Ice

June Lake has had such a changing season.  I have spent many great low snow days this year on the north gully but after our storm last weekend it is mostly buried in snow and  better of as a test peice extreme ski like (Glen Plake – I have a video camera :).

Road side got fat again and is now cooking in the March sun giving fun hero sticks in a sun rotten sort of way

Horsetail is best approached with caution in the warm sun – plenty of hang fire and spontaneous ice fall in the long march days but it has been fun to climb the right edge of it though last Monday while guiding a group there we saw a bunch of wind slab avalanche debris on the approach and eggshell crust over powder snow on top of sun rotten ice that was thin with running water behind and then rock….Glad it was low angle or it could have been a really serious climb !!!

Well a Picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few from this week – Stay safe out there



Valerie Practicing some snow wallowing on the 3 pitch North Gulley 2/29/2018

Viren Relaxing at the belay

Kyle Queener showing us how its done – N. Gulley 2/29

Horsetail falls meets March California Sun 3/9/2018

Roadside Ice is back though getting cooked in the sun with the long days (3/9/2018)

Initial talus field with partial snow coverage – not enough for snow shoes but too much for easy rock hopping … the type of conditions that keep job security for the local ortho docs (3/9/2018)

In order to avoid the creek crossing the approach this year goes across a significant amount of avalanche terrain. the boot back crosses this slope where a small D1 wet slide (as seen) could throw you off balance and have you end up in the creek below (3/9/2018)

Several sections of the trail were easy boot pack…we carried snow shoes but did not use them (3/9/2018)

LVC approach (3/9/2018)

Upper flow is still looking good and fat (3/9/2018)

Coonyard Falls

Main wall is thin – spiral is mostly disappeared – we saw several large icefall events when the sun hit the top of the ice (3/9/2018)

Climbers on top of each other at chouinards… some people might like getting hit by ice??

Leave a Comment