Buttermilk Country- snow conditions

Mt Locke Area
Submission Info
Sunday, March 22, 2020 - 11:30am
buttermilks 37° 15' 54.5688" N, 118° 39' 2.196" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

33F @ 9800ft @ 1145pm

 22F @ 11000ft @ 130pm

Boot Pen 30cm Ski Pen 20cm @ 11000ft N Aspect 33deg slope

Hadn’t ventured into the southern part of the forecast zone for a bit and this past Thursday and Saturday the Buttermilk zone  was quite socked in and obviously had been snowing. During the early morning hours Sunday the Bishop front looked quite white so we 4x4’d up there. Even in the lower elevations there was 4” of new snow and upon reaching more consistent snow line around 9400ft it looked like there was around 4” of settled snow from Thursday and another fresh 4” on top of that. It was warm as we skinned up and a greenhouse effect was taking place with filtered sun becoming trapped beneath the broken low cloud cover. As we got above 10500ft in the late morning the ceiling was dropping and we found ourselves in white out conditions. Proceeded up to 11000ft with conditions not improving and at 130pm we decided to head down where I knew snow coverage was adequate and we could ski next to terrain and lower trees that gave us definition to get down safely. In the upper reaches of the Basin there was deeper amounts of new snow and at our turn around point on a northerly aspect at 11000ft there was upwards of 20cm of new very light snow. It was dead calm, snowing lightly and 22F at 130pm when we turned back.

In the earlier hours of the day when I got glimpses of the upper cirque beneath Peak 13121, there were numerous point releases that had slid from steep cliffy alpine terrain. Much of the craggy peaks were clothed in fresh snow and I believe some of the greenhouse effect was causing small warming deposits of snow to cascade down and entrain other deposits hanging on cliff faces etc. We skied some moderate terrain around 33deg slope angle and did not get any sloughing. The warm new snow residing on any previous snow surface was well bonded and was settling rapidly. Overhead hazards from these small point releases in steep and confined terrain seemed to be the extent of hazard today, not to mention vertigo conditions combined with thin coverage. It was good to turn around and descend where we knew slope coverage was good and the visibility increased very soon as we got below 11K.


Snowpack photos: 
Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
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