Snow Conditions in the Negatives

Submission Info
Volunteer Observer
Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 1:00pm
Red Flags: 
37° 43' 36.7716" N, 119° 5' 50.532" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 
Went for a tour out of the June side country- off of J7, up the hourglass, down an ENE facing chute in the negatives, and toured back into June. It was certainly an adventure (aka some challenging skiing). 
The day started out calm, above freezing, and sunny. By the time we skied down from our 11,100’ high point around 1:30pm, it was partly overcast (1/2) and the wind was gusting pretty hard out of mostly the SW, occasionally switching to W and NW. With skis on the pack especially, a few gusts almost knocked me down.  Despite such strong winds, we barely saw any snow transport.  
On the ski out of J7 along the ridge toward the hourglass, surface conditions varied from wind etched snow, to breakable wind board, to soft dense powder, to melt freeze crust, to exposed talus fields.  Ski crampons were probably not essential, but they sure were handy. Heading up to the main choke of the hourglass, that small bowl beneath the cliffs was filled with P hard windboard that was either breakable or supportive yet quite firm. Little pockets of wind slab broke into foot wide sections with hard kicks from the ski. The booting up the steeper section in the main choke was the way to go. 
In the upper part of the hourglass, a snaking E facing gulley above 10,300’, snow depths varied from 210cm in the center of the gulley to 60cm on the southerly asepcts, which had developed melt freeze crusts and had moist surface snow at 1220pm.  Lots of raise tracks and scalloped snow.  On a SE facing slope in this gulley at 103060', I dug a little and found a series of crusts and some facets (see below).  The facets below the K hard ice layer 15cm down were still quite loose.  Perhaps this ice lense is from the Dec 12 rain or a well established melt freeze crust; hard to tell.  I didn't travel on any other SE facing slopes to see how widespread this structure is.  
Skied a ENE facing chute in the Negatives.  The first 400' or so was firm, edgable, supportable windboard.  Then we kick turned and traversed through 500' or so of treacharous breakable crust.  We found some mercifully soft dense powder turns in the NE facing hemlock trees down below.  Every 6th turn or so had a thind wind skin that was grabby enough to keep us on our toes though.  
Skinnig back into June through WNW facing trees, we traveled through settled powder, isolated pockets of windslab, and 2-3cm thick melt freeze curst in the clearnings.  
10360' SE slope (see above for discussion)
P MF crust
4F moist snow
K ice
F Facets
Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Air temperature: 
Wind Speed: 
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
More detailed information about the weather: 

1050: 9,800', light SW wind, air temp: +3C, 1/4 cloud cover

1200, 10,300', moderate SW wind, air temp: +2C, surface temp: -7C

1330: 11,100', strong SW through NW winds with very strong gusts, air temp: -2C.  

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