Variable Snow Conditions in McGee Creek

Submission Info
Volunteer Observer
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 11:15pm
37° 29' 47.6376" N, 118° 50' 45.3696" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Woke up this morning just above Big McGee Lake hoping to ski sun-softened snow on southern facing alpine slopes.  A clear night gave way to light increasing to moderate SW winds and increasing cloud cover that ultimately thwarted that goal.  We encountered no signs of instability.  The greatest hazards were the low tide and variable sruface conditions.  

Above tree line in McGee Creek, the snowpack surface varies wildly from supportable very slick windboard to breakable windboard, wind etched soft faceted snow, breakable melt freeze (MF) crust and supportable MF crust.  We often traveled on all of the mentioned surfaces in just 10 strides or turns.  Generally, SW, S, and SE facing slopes above a ~20 degree pitch have supportable MF crusts that appear to be moistening and softening with solar input on clear days.  The lower angle southernly slopes have undergone very little to no freeze thaw with the low angled February sun and consist of either a thin breakable MF crust or the combo of windboard and wind etched snow.  On a warmer clear day with less wind, there would probably be some good soft turns up there, though at the price of lot of funky turns.  

At tree line and below treeline on the way out, we skied on the same surfaces with the pleasant addition of soft surface facets (10-30cm ski pen) in the most shaded (not necessarily north facing) spots in the forest.  Below ~9200' in the gut of the canyon, the snowpack thins and becomes too patchy to ski anywhere else but the strip of the summer trail.  It's a pretty continuous strip of snow with a few short gaps down to 8500' when the canyon turns to the East and it's either walking or continously stepping in and out of the skis from there.  

We got views of some other areas on the way out.  Mt Aggie is getting thin and patchy.  The Wineglass Couloir looks firm and scratchy.  

Snowpack photos: 
Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
Weather Observations
More detailed information about the weather: 

0900: 10500', -2.5C, 1/4 clouds, light SW wind

1100: 11300', -3C, 3/4 clouds, moderate SW wind

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