early Season Conditions - Gibbs Creek--> Kidney

Gibbs Creek - Kidney
Submission Info
Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 1:45pm
Red Flags: 
37° 54' 7.2288" N, 119° 12' 18.054" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Went for a hike today out of Upper Horseshoe meadows up the trail to Gibbs Lake and up to Kidney Lake to check on snow coverage / conditions.  85% of trail from TH to Gibbs lake was snow covered up to ankle deep with well faceted snow for the most part with a distinct ice/rain crust midway down marking the transition from the early Nov storm snow to the mid Nov storm snow.  Not concerning now, but can imagine adding a new slab of snow on a steep enough slope with this snow structure would be cause for concern.  This faceted snow structure with the rain crust in the middle is the same as seen in the Mammoth lakes basin area.  Fairly easy hiking up to Gibbs Lake, albeit snowy.  Above Gibbs Lake to Kidney lake was more challenging, as snow got a bit deeper up to shins, and talus hoping with sugar snow isn't easy.  Landscape is heavily wind effected around Kindney and Above, see pics, with lots of bare spots, and some wind drifted strips that actually are skiable (top 1000' of Kidney Couloir, and some isolated other strips lower down).  See pic of snow depth at ~11,700' (nealy 1meter of wind deposited snow).  SE facing snow was quite variable at 11am to 12:30, with crampons being quite helpful.  Some spots were sun softened boot top, others were stripped down to a 3cm thick ice crust and very firm or puchy with well faceted snow below.  Much of the surface was a melt freeze rough micro-sastrugi.  Wind was blowing stiffly above 11,300' upslope, and kept surface above that elevation from melting today.  Dug pit ~10,500' in a wind drifted ENE aspect, see attached profile, with rain crust mid-snow pack.  No stability concerns today with this patchy snow pack.  Greatest safety concerns is travel over snowy talus and a potential fall and slide on firm snow.       

*The steep north facing section of Rd before lower horseshoe mdws was covered with enough snow to require 2 tries to get up with 4x4.  Two logs block the road ~1/2mi before the gibbs lake TH (small chainsaw would do the trick to get rid of them).  

Snowpack photos: 
Mt Wood, Lewis And Gibbs (east aspects)
Gibbs Lake Trail - 8200'
Gibbs Lake & NE aspect of Mt Gibbs
Kidney Couloir
Snow depth at 11,900' in Kidney Couloir
Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
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More detailed information about the weather: 

Blue sky day with no clouds.  Calm winds at lower elevations, blowing strong above 11,700' upslope from SE.  Moderate winds ontop of Dana Plateau at 12,200'.  

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