Low Tide in Esha Canyon

Esha Canyon
Submission Info
Volunteer Observer
Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 6:00pm
37° 32' 18.5712" N, 118° 47' 41.028" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Went for a short tour this afternoon up Esha Canyon to check out the coverage and to look for windslabs or signs of loose wet avalanche potential.

Despite the snow from last week's storm on the road, we were able to drive all the way to the summer TH at about 7860'.  A medium clearance vehicle should be able to do it.  After battling through the aspens and willows to find a suitable log to cross on, we were able to weave through the sage on skis. A well established melt freeze curst in the flats gave way to more wintery snow once we were in the north facing shade.  Only the main gut of the canyon had enough snow to ski with shallow rocks lurking off to either side.  We skinned to the top of continuously skiable terrain at about 9600'.  Above that, wide bands of exposed scree/talus punctuated the snowpack and fully separated skiable stretches.  We traveled mostly on punchy windblown powder, firm supportable windboard, and hard old snow.  The most well developed wind slabs (15cm thick max) were present in the lee of convex rolls and against the sidewalls of the gulley.  Hand shears failed with hard pulls and stomping on the convex rolls broke off <1' plates that didn't want to move far.  We saw some old debris covered over by the wind blown snow that looked like small (D1) slabs that probably avalanched during the 1/17 storm.  Didn't see any signs of loose wet potential, though we traveled on mostly north facing terrain.  The only S facing slopes we saw, the S face of McGee Mt, were quite bare.  There wasn't much snow on the E or W facing slopes as far as we went in Esha Canyon either.  

The skiing was better than expected (low expectations helped); good enough to deserve a second go.  Just outside the mouth of the canyon at 8060' as it opened up to the sage, the lack of a base beneath the new snow became apparent and we opted to skin downhill instead of putting even more gouges in the ski bases.  Many early season obstacles exist out there.  

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
More detailed information about the weather: 

By noon, it was well above freezing and mostly cloudy.  By 4pm, it was much cooler with 1/4 sky cover with light S winds.  

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