Transporting winds, Propagating test results in Lundy Canyon

SNOWPACK OBSERVATION
Gilcrest Peak
Submission Info
Tuesday, December 24, 2019 - 3:30pm
Red Flags: 
Recent avalanche activity
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain
38° 0' 53.532" N, 119° 13' 25.086" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

I went for a tour on the E side of Gilcrest Peak in the Lundy canyon area today. The road has not been plowed recently, but with 4wheel drive, clearance, and decent tires, I was able to make it to the Lundy lake dam.  Coverage at lake level is sparse. 6” of new low-density snow and ~12”~ of total HS leaving the car.  I made my way up the deer creek vally with relatively low expectations.  Light to Moderate winds were present throughout the day leading to significant transport along ridge tops. Furthermore windward slopes were all but bare on the East side of Deer creek. 

Careful route choice was essential to navigating the open water, shrubs, willow, and rocks on the ascent, and I tried to keep my descent in mind for later. As I passed the exit of the east couloir on Gilcrest, I noted the lower chokes looked pretty bony but not impossible for a descent. I tossed around the idea of ascending here but decided instead to try my luck further up the valley. This proved to be a good idea, and I was able to piece a route up to my high point just shy of 11,000’.   I stopped at 10,500’ to dig a pit on a NE aspect in a sheltered area, skiers right of the couloir proper.  Hight of snow at this location was 105 cm, with about 25 cm of new snow on top of a 2” wind board. Below this, I found the rest of the snowpack Is mostly made up of loose faceted grains.  I found the interface just below the windboard to be reactive to my tests today. The structure of the snowpack here is similar to what we have seen throughout the range. With loose faceted snow underneath various crust layers. However, at least for the time being, there isn’t much of a slab above this weak layer. I did observe on significant wumph I believe was associated with this layer. See attached pit profile for more details.   

I observed fresh wind deposits at multiple elevations and ranging from 10-25 cm in thickness. In the flats of Deer creek valley, I noted drifting and uneven surface texture, and at my high point, I observed the thickest deposit. (25cm 4f/F) While I was able to get this to crack under my weight, it was a small pocket and I did not find this particular wind slab to be overly concerning.  I dd not observe any natural slab avalanches on my tour today.

Loose-dry avalanches would have been likely any wear steep enough today, particularly where the new snow is directly on a hard slick crust.  I did observe a half dozen or so small natural loose dry avalanches, but nothing more significant than size D1.  

Surface conditions were pleasant on my decent to about 9400’where rocks lurking below the surface are a real hazard, and cautious movement became much more critical. As I had expected, the crux of the descent was the two lower chokes, I was able to keep my skis on, but some serious billy goating was required to navigate the lower part of the couloir. From here, I was able to follow my up-track back to the car without incident. I can't with good conscious recommend this as an objective until we receive more snow. The low coverage is a serious hazard in the dear creek valley. 

 I did, however, confirm a few long-standing truths. Powder skiing is fun, chocolate makes most things better, and ALL skis become rock skis eventually. Happy holidays!

Snowpit or crown profile photo or graph: 
Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Yes
Cloud Cover: 
50% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Moderate
Precipitation: 
None
Air temperature trend: 
Cooling
Wind Direction: 
Southwest
Accumulation rate: 
None
More detailed information about the weather: 

Clear skies prevailed for most of the day becoming broken by mid-afternoon.  Temperatures remained below freezing and light to moderate winds were blowing out of the Southwest.

10:00 – 7800’ 27°F calm winds, clear skies

1200 – 9300’ 24° F Light SW winds gusting Moderate, clear skies

1400 – 10,500’ 15° F light SW winds, broken skies

1530- 7,800’ 24° F light SW winds, broken skies

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