June Lake Area- Snowpack and Weather conditions-Chicken Wing

Chicken Wing
Submission Info
Sunday, March 15, 2020 - 2:00pm
Red Flags: 
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
chicken wing 37° 45' 20.8404" N, 119° 2' 7.5084" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

There were two Nordic skiers getting blown back into the trailhead at Obsidian Dome as we geared up to head up Chicken wing early afternoon. It was warm, just below freezing and sunny, but the SW wind was blowing plenty of snow, debris and a stout headwind until we reached the shelter of timber.

There was an average of 15cm of snow on the skin up and it was fairly well laden with water, as I could make a snowball with the new snow all the way up to 9700ft. New snow was primarily composed of graupel and other rimed particles and was a bit bulky to break trail through. Winds were consistently blowing in the treetops at 40-50mph and snowfall was off and on through the afternoon. Upon reaching ridge top there was a dense wind packed drift just adjacent to the top and measured from 25-35cm deep, but did not reach very far down slope. It was fairly dense and wind packed, around 4F in hardness and pulled off in hand pits with moderate force, while staying together and cohesive for the most part. I did a little ski cutting and stomping on the deeper snow deposits, but did not get anything to crack or propagate. I did get some minor audible collapsing on some of these drifts, but they did not move down slope or crack. The main NE slopes that are traditional skied on chicken wing were variable with wind shorn and stripped areas as well as good stretches of 15-20cm of new snow for the majority. I would not recommend this destination as coverage is very thin and obstacles are abundant. I’m retiring this zone from my menu for the season, as it looks like we will not get the dump needed to truly return decent coverage to the zone. The due north held better coverage with 70-90cm of old faceted base.

Winds were honking at the top from the SW and were consistently in the 50mph range. Blowing snow was abundant and being deposited on leeward northerly aspects. Overall the new snows high water content was making it bond very well to old surfaces and settle rapidly. Besides the minor collapsing on top, did not experience any other signs of instability. Imagine in steeper and more extreme terrain with features that capture snow, that one would have found sensitive wind slab deposits today. We did not venture onto anything over 32deg slope angle today, or exposed, or above tree line.

It was 30F @ 100pm @ 8200ft and 25F @ 1430pm @ 9700ft


Snowpack photos: 
Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
75% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Gale Force
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
Less than 1 in. per hour
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