Snow conditions in the Baldwin Cirque

Submission Info
Sunday, March 8, 2020 - 12:30pm
Red Flags: 
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain
37° 31' 31.3536" N, 118° 50' 25.476" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

I toured up to the Baldwin Cirque today with the goal of gauging the new snow from yesterday's quick storm and to evaluate recent wind deposits near and above treeline.  The road to the McGee trailhead is completely dry, and I walked for 2 miles on the Trail before I was able to put my skis on. At elevations below 9500’ the coverage is quite thin (20-40 cm), and surface conditions were largely composed of a variety of MF crusts with isolated areas of unconsolidated facets (4f- and ski pen close to the ground).  Only a trace of new snow was observed at these lower elevations.

Above 9500’ I observed new snow totals from 1-4” with drifted areas closer to 8”. Coverage remained thin for the entirety of my tour today with the bench below Baldwin a reef of exposed talus and boulders.  I picked my way through the rocks and made my way towards the northerly chutes in the cirque.   I observed a couple of small D1 Loose dry point releases that appeared to have occurred during the storm yesterday but I did not observe and slab avalanches. I did not observe any concerning Wind slab development from this most recent storm. However, as I booted up one of the Northerly chute features, I did find the about 20-25 cm of 1F+/4F wind board that was reactive to hand sheers. This snow from the storm on 3/1 had a distinctly hallow feel and broke under isolation. While this structure was isolated on the apron, it seemed to become more consistent as I gained elevation. I did not observe and cracking or collapsing.

I transitioned around 11,400,’ and tip-toed my way back to the trail. Surface conditions were pleasant and predictable in the chute consisting of 30-50 cm of soft snow with the combined totals from the storms on 3/1 and 3/7. Very thin coverage and lots of breakable MF crust made for variable and challenging skiing conditions for the bulk of my descent from about 10,800’ to the trail at 8,600’. 

No signs of surface warming were observed today although southerly aspects near and below treeline are almost entirely dry with the exception of protected gully features.  

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
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Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
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More detailed information about the weather: 

Clear skies and relatively light winds made for a pleasant day in the mountains today. temperatures remained below freezing for the bulk of my tour, at least at elevations above the snow line. Calm winds this morning seemed to increase throughout the day and were consistently moderate when I returned to the car at 230.


1130 @9400’ 24*f, calm, clear,- tr/1.5cmMF/facets

1300 @11000’ 18*f calm, clear, 4-5” + bp=45cm

1401 @8700 34* light NE, clear, tr new snow

1438 @7900’  37* Moderate NE, clear,  dry trail

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