Va Lakes-Red lk bowl Snow Conditions

Red Lake Bowl
Submission Info
Saturday, December 19, 2020 - 10:30am
Red Flags: 
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
38° 2' 31.5816" N, 119° 16' 0.3468" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

It was clear, calm and sunny today in Virginia lakes and looking nice with the new cloak of snow from the Thursday storm. Overall, conditions are very shallow and thin and one must be vigilant to keep speed under control as hitting rocks in common place. Better coverage is developing in wind loaded areas though, and we really just need one substantial storm to really open things up.

Quite warm today, 27degF at 930am, but climbed up to the mid 40sF when we got back to the vehicle at 100pm (9500ft) and the mid-day sun was intense.

Below tree line and in sheltered terrain a thin and hollow snowpack is to be found with 50-60cm average depth. Faceted snow composed the bottom 15-25cm of snow on the ground covered by a 4F-1F hardness overlying layer, with light 20-25cm layer of powder on top from Thursday’s storm. Localized collapsing below tree line occurred when I approached most undisturbed pockets of snow. Settlement cracks were evident in many areas adjacent to outcroppings and small cliff bands. I avoided any convex or unsupported roles while skiing down and got collapsing through most of the descent down an East aspect in Red Lake Bowl. Above tree line in a more wind loaded area, we found 100cm of total snow with good stability where I dug. The spatial variability is so high though that, digging just one pit right now will not tell you the whole picture. Hand pits and pole probing along travel routes gives good data on just how variable it is. No visible natural avalanche activity in the zone today, just a bit of rock fall on sunny aspects. I dug two snow pits today both around 10,500ft on an East and then North aspect and found similar conditions in the Red Lake Bowl area. Light powder on top of a robust mid pack with facets at the base. While ascending the Northerly aspect snow depths were highly variable and remained pretty shallow until I got up underneath the main rock walls that hem  in the top of the cirque, only then did I find a deeper pack around 100cm. One of the attached pictures shows the shallow conditions in the lower slopes. I did not get any collapsing or shooting cracks above tree line while on these deeper deposits of snow, but I did not push getting into steeper slope angles or unsupported terrain. So many rocks and reefs out there, that even a small pocket could drag you into some nasty stuff, better to be patient.

While breaking trail above tree line, ski penetration was 15cm and when I got off my skis to dig a snow profile I only pressed down 25cm. Much more supportable in wind loaded areas in the alpine, then the hollow unconsolidated pack found below tree line in sheltered terrain.

Snowpit @ 10493ft, 81E Aspect, 27deg slope

HS: 100cm

HNS: 25cm

Bottom 15cm of snowpack was well-developed facets of Fist Hardness.

CT23 Q2 25cm down at new snow old snow interface on a 2cm thin wind board.

ECTX did not get any propagating results in these locations today, above treeline. Likely very differnent below tree line.



Snowpit or crown profile photo or graph: 
Snowpack photos: 
Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
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