VA Lakes snow conditions

Virginia Lakes
Submission Info
Friday, February 21, 2020 - 1:30pm
38° 2' 10.4316" N, 119° 17' 51.1188" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Toured up the Virginia Lakes drainage today making my way up over the pass and over to Excelsior peak, just in time for the clouds to come in and flurries to begin. Sunny conditions with a light southerly breeze gave way to increasing grey skies and eventual flurries by the time I got back to the trailhead at 230pm. Sheltered north trees had some patches of soft near surface faceted conditions mixed with thin temperature crusts while the rest of the lakes basin is a mix of sastrugi, and firm baked snow surfaces. Overall coverage is very thin and is minimal to say the least.  Southerly aspects that people are skiing are dwindling fast and overall I’d say there is more rock exposed in the surrounding area than snow coverage. There was just a bit of softening today in the late morning before skies darkened and winds picked up a bit from the southwest. There were no signs of dramatic wet loose events from previous day’s warm temps and solar input. No signs of any other avalanche activity. North aspects are stripped, eroded, and composed of incredibly variable surface conditions from sastrugi, slick firm wind board, and raised panels and ribbons of remnant scabs of old snow.

Snow coverage is very thin, with 30-45cm in the lake basin average and perhaps a meter if you dug in the right place on protected higher northerly areas. Lakes remain frozen with open water seen in some of the creek bottoms. On steeper north and easterly slopes eroded sastrugi, flat light, and hard surfaces made for survival skiing. Hopefully the little system that was rolling in today surprises us and produces more than the 1” forecast. I don’t think I’ve ever spent a winter with so many weather events predicted to deliver 1”… kind of pathetic.

It was relatively warm all day with temperatures hovering around freezing; even at 11274ft at 1230pm it was 32F.

Snowpack photos: 
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