Mammoth Area - Punta Bardini - snow conditions

Punta Bardini
Submission Info
Sunday, December 8, 2019 - 11:15am
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Punta Bardini 37° 36' 41.9976" N, 118° 57' 37.8504" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

On the drive from Bishop to Mammoth this morning the mountains were sparkling with all the new snow. There were a few crowns and point releases visible in the McGee Creek/Nevahbe Ridge area that fell into the D1 classification. It was also reported that a larger D2 avalanche had run in the Baldwin Cirque area.

For our Sunday tour we headed up Punta Bardini on this quite spectacular day in the High Sierra. It was warming up at 1000am and was 30F at the trailhead. Although calm at the trailhead there was some wind transport of snow from the WSW winds up high on Laurel and No Name peaks in the morning.  In contrast to the morning conditions observed up high, while skiing on Punta it was nearly dead calm all day through 300 pm when we departed.  Snow coverage was more than adequate all the way to the actual slopes and skied just fine on the way out.  The entire forest off ridgeline was stacked with the new snowfall from last night which was from 20-30cm in depth depending on where you poked around. Overall snowpack depth in the upper reaches above 8500ft averaged from 80-110cm in depth. The snowpack is right-side up and is composed primarily of decomposing precipitation particles and rounding forms as you reach the bottom.  I dug two pits, both on northerly aspects, one at 9242ft and one at 8675ft. At the 8675ft location on the edge of the left Tele bowl I wanted to check for any remaining surface hoar that formed with the wet air mass inversion last Thursday below 9000ft in the Mammoth area. I could not find any surface hoar where I dug, but it may still reside in a more sheltered location. Will continue to look for it for a while, but my suspicion is that this latest storm with good winds and heavier snow destroyed it. I got moderate CT results in both pits in the upper 30cm of the pack with resistant planer fractures.  I did not get any propagation on an ECT test at the 9242ft location.

During our travels the primary instability/potential hazard we observed was decent sloughing, approaching Class 1, in steep and confined terrain. Otherwise we did not observe any collapsing or whoompfing of the snow pack, kick-turn tests= negative, no shooting cracks. We skied within both treed terrain and ventured into steeper confined terrain during the day.  Early season obstacles remain the biggest hazard and it was necessary to quell the excitement over the beautiful new snow a bit to keep things in check. Admittedly though it was quite remarkable how good the coverage was, with the high moisture content snow cushioning the landscape, I really did not hit much while trying to maintain a nimble foot. What a fantastic start to the winter, very happy about it.

Snowpit or crown profile photo or graph: 
Snowpack photos: 
40-45cm ski pen
AM wind transport in Laurel Mtn area
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