Consistent breakable wind skin in Birch Creek drainage

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SNOWPACK OBSERVATION
Birch Creek Drainage
Submission Info
Saturday, March 9, 2019 - 12:00pm
Birch Creek Drainage 37° 4' 59.5164" N, 118° 23' 4.6536" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

After Josh's 3/9 conditions report crushed hopes and dreams of skiing the east canyon on Tom, Kim and I toured up Birch Creek drainage to scout an approach. We had a late start and turned around at 9k since clouds have overtaken the view of mountains along the crest, it was getting late, and we got enough approach beta. Snow conditions on the north side of the Birch Creek drain between 7k and 9k were predominately breakable wind skin capping cream cheese powder. The wind skin depth varied from 0 to 10cm. It was consistently unsupportable and made for an extremely frustrating punchy exit punctuated by many falls when snow would give way. Even side slipping and falling leaf tactics were tentative. Breaks in the snow never propagated, and there was zero collapsing action other than what was under our skis. We tried the solar north side of the drain for a short bit and conditions were no better - still unpredictable, punchy, confidence shattering snow. The snow on the solar side didn't have a distinct melt effect on the surface. Crust melted snow became the norm below 7k though. The wind skin was wide spread across the majority of the north side of the drain. On the way down the drain, we crossed 4 D2 slides that came down the northern aspect of the drain. They were mostly around 8k alt. Around 9k on the same slope there was one point where the wind skin got deeper and supportive, which gave us concern enough about a propagating slab that we altered our route. Weather was sunny up until high Cirrus clouds came in around noon. There was a consistent light breeze from the south the entire day. Intermittent snow banners seen off the tops of the highest peaks loading E to NE aspect. The temp and cloud cover was such that we saw little to no melting during the day. Although it was clear thay prior days have significantly baked the snow below 7k. Our take away was that winds are continuing to work dry crap into challenging conditions.

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Yes
Cloud Cover: 
50% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Above Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Moderate
Precipitation: 
None
Air temperature trend: 
Static
Wind Direction: 
West

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