snow conditions in the Piute Crags

Piute Crags
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Saturday, April 13, 2019 - 2:00pm
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37° 14' 19.9608" N, 118° 38' 31.668" W
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Leaving the car in Aspendell at around 930 this morning surface conditions were pretty hard and the skinning was a bit challenging.  Snow on the lower bench is becoming more scarce but you can still piece it together to access bishop bowl. Traversing below bishop bowl to the Birch Creek drainage we observed surface conditions ranging from moist corn snow to scary dust on crust conditions on shaded north aspects.  The worst of which was encountered as we dropped to birch creek from the ridge. About 2” of cold loose snow sat on top of a very hard melt freeze crust and much care was needed to avoid losing an edge and sliding into trees below.  About 2-4 ” of new snow was present as we made our way up the moraines to the base of the Piute crags, and significant glopping impeded our progress.  We were a bit concerned that the shaded chutes may hold similar dust on crust conditions and we approached with some hesitation. We were pleasantly surprised to find the chutes held about 10” or so of soft cold powder with very little wind effect that was decently well bonded to a “crunchy” feeling crust.  Our group of four decided to split into two groups and ski two different chutes. In the more western chute, we found the boot pack to be about knee deep and conditions were reminiscent of mid-winter. This loose snow became notably more wind effected near the top and we decided to turn around about 100’ shy of the summit as this started to feel a bit more slabby.  Hand sheers found about 4-6” of 4f wind slab on top of fist hard snow that reacted under easy force. Descending the chute we found delightful powder skiing. The moraines were also pleasant but the fresh snow had a bit more sun effect and skied a bit slower.  After traversing back to bishop bowl we found the lower flanks still held great corn skiing.  Slopes remained supportable all the way back to the car.  Though the final pitch to Aspendell was a bit more sloppy.  No recent avalanches were observed on our tour today. 

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