Snow conditions in the Lakes Basin

TJ bowl
Submission Info
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - 2:15pm
Red Flags: 
37° 34' 42.9276" N, 119° 0' 28.2708" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Leaving the Tamarack trailhead this morning, I was immediately struck with how much snow has melted since my last visit here a couple of weeks ago. In particular, the tamarack groomer seems to have dropped at least a foot; the earth is remerging from around the base of trees, and looking around the basin, the upper reaches of Red cone bowl and the backside of Mammoth Mountain are both showing large swaths of bare rock. 

I decided to head towards TJ bowl, searching for isolated pockets of wind slab on northerly alpine terrain. Traveling up the morainal features to the top of the bowl I encountered many different surface conditions. In shaded areas above 9500’ I found a mostly supportable but faceted surface, and, in more sun-exposed areas, I found a variety of melt-freeze crusts and melt grains. Transitioning back and forth from one to the other led to some extensive glopping on my skins and certainly impeded progress. 

Above treeline, I found a moonscape of the old hard surface, sastrugi, and small areas of wind textured snow in catchment zones and depressions. As I made my way to the top of TJ bowl proper, I found a couple of areas where thin table-sized sheets of recent wind board broke loose under my weight, but I did not observe any concerning slab development. I found recent snow drifts 20-25 cm deep, but these deeper drifts are very sporadic and unconsolidated. Descending the bowl, I found about an inch of wind textured soft snow overlying supportable MF crust to be the most pleasant option. Unfortunately, the snow was not consistently distributed; rather it was interrupted by exposed areas of the old slick snow surface, and the underlying MF crust was breakable in many areas. Below TJ lake surface conditions transitioned from dry facets to wet melt forms, and skiing felt a bit stop and go. 

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

Sunny skies and warm temperatures prevailed today with light northerly winds doing little to cool things down. 


1200 @9500’ 43°F light W winds clear skies, Melt forms/MF bp=2cm

1400 @10800 34°F light NW clear skies, Wind drifted loose snow bp=20 cm

1430 @9300 45°F light N clear skies, Melt forms/MF bp=5 cm

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