San Joaquin Mountain & Deadman Creek snow conditions

San Joaquin Ridge-East Side
Submission Info
Saturday, January 4, 2020 - 3:00pm
37° 43' 3.36" N, 119° 6' 9.3168" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Toured out of June Mountain today up to San Joaquin Mountain at 11500ft and down into the headwaters of Deadman creek.  The old skin track was raised nearly a foot in places. The southwest winds were quite strong all morning and at our high point they were blowing a consistent 40-50mph. It was 24degF at 1130am and with the wind it was pretty chilly on top. As the day progressed winds gradually tapered to calm to light conditions by 3-4pm.  There was a bit of snow transport in the alpine, but there is not much loose snow left to move around.

We skied off the southeasterly face of San Joaquin on wind board and some breakable crust, surface conditions were softening slightly where protected by thickets of whitebark pine. We popped over to the east side and descended beneath the big cliff of the Two Teats peak. There was from 90-110cm of snow on the easterly aspect and averaged around 110-125 on the Northerly aspect.  I was probing around at the 11,100ft elevation. There were soft sastrugi conditions on parts of the northerly slope and a dusting of windblown snow in the belly of the bowl on the easterly. I did not observe any fresh wind slab or anything reactive as I traversed across the bowl checking out the differing aspects. While probing the eastside slope below ridgeline, there was anywhere from 10cm-25cm of pencil hard wind board encapsulating 4F-1F hardness snow in a majority of the area. Besides this surface transition in hardness I didn’t feel any other dramatic hardness changes deeper in the thin snowpack. The alpine landscape looked, felt and is… locked up. A majority of snow surfaces on all aspects in the alpine are wind hammered, or stripped. Gullies and sheltered-concave terrain harbored soft surface conditions on the northerly aspect. Very small to non-existent cornice lines existed on the ridge today. We could not identify any old crowns or evidence of recent slab avalanche activity. I imagine though, up high, in isolated and complex terrain there are lingering stubborn slabs that could still be found.

East and Southeast aspects at lower elevations below 10400ft were beginning to soften and had just a thin melt-freeze crust over damp 30-40cm snow. Northerlies all the way down still had cold soft surfaces. At 9044ft during lunch the temperature was 39degF. North facing trees below 10400ft averaged around 80-90cm of snow and under a tight canopy had a thin skin of melted ice particles and glass that had fallen from the canopy. Ski penetration in these areas was around 10cm and the snowpack was nice and supportable yet forgiving.

Couldn’t get anything significant or of concern to budge on ski cuts, stomping, or hand pits throughout the tour today.

Southeast aspects around 9400 ft had recent loose wet point releases (see picture), I’m estimating from 4 days ago when we had the first real heat up along with some green-house atmospheric conditions. These little slides (D1) ran 200 vertical ft and at the most had 2ft of debris at the terminus.

Snowpack photos: 
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