On my way north to June mountain from Mammoth this morning the shift to strong north winds was pretty obvious. Significant banners were visible sporadically throughout the range from Pyramid peak to the Dana Plateau. We toured off the top of J7 at June mountain today and headed towards Dream Peak. 1-2 cm Melt freeze crust dominates the descent to Yost creak and certainly kept us on our tows this morning. On the more easterly approach to Dream bowl, we observed the MF crust becoming thinner as we climbed. Above 9500’ or so as we entered the lower choke it seemed to disappear. Unfortunately, it was almost immediately replaced by breakable windboard. Needless to say, the skiing was less than enjoyable here, but we were able to sniff out some small pockets of fresh deposit that broke into table-sized sheets on leeward cross-loaded features. I did not observe significant areas of recent wind deposits on the ridge.
I dug in on a northerly aspect of dream peak at around 10000’. At 240 cm deep this may be one of the deepest pieces of snowpack I have found all season. The snowpack at this location was largely right-side up and composed primarily of layers of stiff wind board. this location showed a very different snowpack structure than we have been finding throughout much of the range where the overall coverage is thinner. Compression tests in this location highlighted surface instabilities but nothing of huge concern. See pit profile for more details.
Probing throughout the day I noted a similar structure as has been reported recently with a crust of varying thickness overlying a loose unconsolidated lower snowpack. In some areas the old snow surface is hard and barely penetrable with a ski pole and in others its thin and weak. The most consistent feature I found was the overall thin coverage. On a due north aspect in sheltered areas of the Hemlock trees, I observed the crusts to be generally thinner, weaker, and more decomposed. I also observed more advanced faceting in general including on the surface which led to some minor sloughing in a couple of steep sections above Yost lake. Given the temperature crusts we found at lower elevations we opted to tour back to JMR rather than descend to the four seasons. No cracking, collapsing, or recent avalanches were observed on our tour today.
Mostly clear skies and relatively light low elevations winds had my hopes up for a warm California day today. The wind had other plans. While high elevation winds seemed to be approaching gale force at low and mid-elevations moderate winds with the occasional strong gust was plenty to make for a cold day in the mountains. Cloud cover seemed to build slightly throughout the day and temperatures remained below freezing.