I went for a tour in the red cone area of the Lakes Basin today to gauge solar warming during today’s strong winds as well as to get an idea of how the more sheltered shaded areas are holding up with our recent warm temperatures.
My original plan was going to be to head off the top of Mammoth and then head to red cone but the gondola wasn’t running when I got to the mountain, so I shifted my approach and ascended from Tamarack via the typical ascent path.
Despite the strong winds I still found some surface softening on an east aspect that I descended to crystal lake. not enough to be concerning but certainly enough to soften things up a bit. BP=~5cm A more notable observation was the transitional nature of the snow in more shaded terrain. In these areas near and below treeline, I found challenging ski conditions with a variety of melt-freeze crusts. Ranging from 5-20 cm I found some areas where this crust was still frozen and supportable, areas where it was breakable and residing over cold snow below, and many areas where the melt forms were much deeper and unconsolidated. Boot pen in these areas was about knee deep and ski pen was 20-30 cm. needless to say skiing in these areas could be described as a variable at best.
No signs of instability were observed today although if we continue to see week/non-existent refreeze at night Loose wet sloughing could become possible on more shaded aspects as well.
I also took note of the Lakes in the Basin. I would be very hesitant to attempt to cross any of the lakes at this point. Seems like the warm temps are thinning the ice quickly.
Strong winds kept the air temp feeling cool today despite warm air temperatures and mostly clear skies. Cloud cover began to thicken up a bit in the afternoon with sporadic flurries of snow starting around 11 am.