23F @ 7900ft @ 2pm
13F @ 9640ft @ 340pm 35mph NE wind consistent
The trailhead for Punta Bardini was deserted this afternoon and had significantly melted out. Grey and overcast skies set a moody tone as I clattered up through the refrozen slush and sage. There was the occasional scud of cloud passing by with a few scattered snowflakes fleeting by once in a while. I ascended up through the Perch area where it’s obviously evident that we are reaching rock bottom in regards to coverage and conditions. Surface conditions are highly variable with melt/freeze crusts, near surface facets and wind board residing. Obstacles abound and downward travel is getting riskier all the time. Snowpack depths in a lot of places are only a 35-60cm and where most wind loaded and sheltered on due north aspects, depths are at the most around 90-105cm average.
It was chilly on the exposed ridge top with a consistent 35 mph NE wind and 13F temps so fled to the trees. At least at these lower elevations did not experience any crazy or incredibly high velocity gusts at 300pm. I sought out the most due North aspect in deep sheltered trees I could find, and after descending from ridge top where it is quite wind affected in exposed areas, I found soft re-cycled snow surfaces and good skiing from 9400ft to 8800ft. Below 8800ft on lower angle slopes the thin melt/freeze crust was more profound and consistent across all surfaces. There is ever increasing needle cast, pine cones and woody debris flung across snow surfaces from our windy weather all adding to the ragged and worn out state of the snowpack.
I dug a quick pit at 9600ft to check on old rain crusts from December and see if there was anything of concern. Bottom line is that the snow here was relatively right side up, had no dramatic weak interfaces and showed no signs of propensity to fracture anywhere within the two compression tests I performed. The snowpack is relatively dead, lacking energy, old buried crusts are being consumed and degraded and relative warm temperatures are not driving significant faceting in this lower, treed elevation terrain. There was decently advanced faceting snow both above and below the minor MF crust 38cm below surface.
Snowpit @ 9600ft 0deg North aspect, 35deg slope
Boot Pen: 40cm Ski Pen: 30cm
105-86cm=Fist+ 86-67cm=Fist 3mm M/F crust @ 67cm (likely 12/14 warm-wet event)