Snow conditions in VA lakes

South Peak, Dunderberg
Submission Info
Saturday, February 1, 2020 - 12:15pm
Red Flags: 
Rapid warming
38° 2' 32.7012" N, 119° 15' 23.6232" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

I ventured on to shaded and solar aspects in the Virginia lakes basin today, hoping to assess the surface warming on multiple aspects.  I left my car at 1130 under blue skies. The temperature was 51°F, and the winds were calm. I made my way first up the NE side of the South peak. From a distance, the surface snow was quite reflective, and I was not very optimistic about the ski quality. I observed moist surface snow in the flats on the approach, but as soon as I got some pitch, a thin temperature crust became apparent. Although it was hard, it was very thin, maybe 3-5 mm thick. I observed this crust as high as 10,800 ft. From here to the top of South peak surface conditions are dominated by patches of stiff wind board overlying well-developed facets broken by outcroppings of exposed rocks.  On my descent, down the NE face, I found the first 1000’ or so to be a mixture of supportable and breakable windboard. I exited the main gully and entered the more northerly facing sparse trees and was pleasantly surprised to find that skiing through the thin MF crust was relatively easy. You can tell it was there, but the skiing was predictable and enjoyable enough.

After descending, I decided to cross the road and head up the south side of Dunderberg to investigate the surface conditions on more solar aspects. At 3 pm on a southern aspect at 10,000,’ I found about 15 cm of moist surface snow. Boot penetration was 20 -25 cm, and my turns back to the car were a bit stickier than what I had found on the other side of the street.

Looking around the basin from the top of South peak, I noted a couple of fans of small roller balls below rock outcroppings, but I did not observe any significant loose wet activity. 

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
Air temperature: 
Above Freezing
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More detailed information about the weather: 


1130- @9700’, 51°F, calm winds and clear skies

1240- @10,500’, 48°F, light westerly winds, clear skies

1330-@11,600’, 46°F, light winds, clear skies

1440- @9700’,54°F, light winds, clear skies

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