SF BIg Pine
Monday, January 13, 2020 - 2:30pm
Put in a full day to try to get a feeling for snowpack conditions in the Palisades area of SF Big Pine creek. There was enough snow with a few dry patches’ to skin the road from Lower sage flat campground up into the SF, but pretty dismal overall snow depths and state of the snowpack in the area. We made it up to the Brainerd Lake area around 11000ft and snow depths averaged from 35-65cm and where wind loaded/gullies ~90cm. Breakable crust, wind board and shallow faceted coverage summed up surface conditions. Tight alpine couloirs and chutes were really the only features that had uniform welded in snow coverage and provided somewhat consistent skiing surfaces. At 11am SE snow surfaces were warmed up and soft at the 10000ft level. We did not observe any significant loose wet conditions during the day, nor any recent avalanche activity or signs of instability while touring today except for minor shallow wind crust fracturing from the surface in a few isolated areas. The glacier beneath Middle Palisade has visible ice showing and up high in the alpine, you could still see the gray, blue residing snowfields from last season’s snowpack. Old, extremely firm snow fields from last season are something to consider if getting up real high. Mammoth Patrol made a succinct point on this aspect while presenting during Saturdays ESAC kickoff event. Tracking potential avalanche activity in relation to last season’s glacial like residing snow fields is something they are keeping an eye on.
Southwesterly winds of 30-35mph were blowing a bit of snow up high and temperatures were relatively warm during the day.
39F @ 9800ft 1100am
30F @ 11000ft 230pm
Snow pit on a NE aspect, 34deg slope @ 11,100ft elevation:
Rounded snow that was slightly faceted comprised all layers within this right side up snow profile except a 5cm wind board layer residing on top. Minor crust at 25cm below the surface. Again, depths and stratigraphy of the snow is extremely variable in the area.
Hardness: 80-75cm=Pencil, 75-55cm=Fist, 55-54.5cm Pencil temp crust, 55-35cm 4Finger, 35cm-ground=1Finger
CT25 Q3 @ 55cm on minor temperature crust