Shallow coverage, isolated areas of reactive wind slab and surface faceting

Hemlock ridge
Submission Info
Saturday, January 9, 2021 - 12:45pm
Red Flags: 
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain
37° 44' 35.52" N, 119° 6' 7.6356" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

I toured up Hemlock ridge (9000’-10400’) in the June lake BC today to get a look at how the sheltered north-facing terrain is holding up in the mid-elevation band. The weather was spectacular today with chilly temps, mostly clear skies, and light winds out of the north. Stability concerns today were limited to isolated terrain features with reactive wind slabs. in several areas, we found 5-20 cm thick pencil hard WS above a largely faceted and unconsolidated base. Nothing too concerning but the recent strong winds have left their mark on even sheltered areas near tree line. Large plates of wind skin were easy to break loose in many areas along the ascent as well as our descent the largest of which was about 10’ square and about 5-10 cm thick that broke into several smaller table sized sheets as it moved downhill.  It became obvious that the dominant wind direction was cross slope here and terrain was the biggest influencer of where these isolated areas of stiffened snow exist across the land scape. Ridge features and leeward rollovers are a good bet and the westerly most side of the slope (skiers left) had the most drastic deposits.  

Th biggest hazard today was definitely the minimal coverage. The average snowpack encountered today was around 40 cm (maximum propped depth of 60 cm) and it was next to impossible to avoid rocks on the descent. The shaded northerly terrain here has been very effective at faceting the snowpack and it is less supportable now than I have seen yet this season.  In several areas ski pen was not much higher than ground level, putting in a skin track felt like climbing a sand dune, and in some steeper areas, I was even able to kick loose some small sluffs of surface snow. I cannot recommend travel to this area at the moment. Visible obstacles are everywhere and limit the areas that look decent for a descent. Unfortunately, the majority of these areas are choked with trees, just as shallow, and riddled with rocks just below the surface. More solar-affected areas do have a more supportable snowpack however snow depths are more like 20cm in-depth and the ground is reappearing near trees and large rocks.

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
25% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
More detailed information about the weather: 

The weather was spectacular today with chilly temps, mostly clear skies, and light winds out of the north.

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