Virginia Lakes current snow conditions

South Peak
Submission Info
Wednesday, December 26, 2018 - 12:30pm
South Peak 38° 2' 25.9872" N, 119° 15' 11.6496" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

HS = 60-90cm in the sheltered shady aspects on South Peak with variable surfaces of powder, wind board and a bit of breakable crust.

HNS = avg~15cm, 10cm where eroded and 30cm where loaded. The Christmas Eve snow was cold and well bonded to old snow surfaces.

I did not observe any natural or human caused avalanche activity or any signs of instability during our travels today. Lots of evidence of wind scouring and stripping primarily on due E, W and S aspects. Protected NE aspects held the best snow where it had been wind loaded in gullys and depressions. There was some wind slab right adjacent to small rib features on the NE aspect, but it was not sensitive and did not propagate at all when stomped on or ski cut.  Extreme terrain or convex features could hold some surprises though, so be on the lookout.

Due N and E aspects held more of the 5cm thick (P Hardness) wind slab that has been found throughout December underneath the new snow. The 40-45cm of old snow underneath this thin wind slab is faceted and is of F Hardness. The thin wind slab is variable spatially and not contiguous across slopes.  Large panels of it do exist, but sections of snow, rock bands, ribs and trees break it up.

Tests showed good stability and bonding of our past few storms layers (12/21and12/24). The snow pit did show some interesting melt-freeze crusts that developed at the onset of the last two storms which both started out quite wet and warm.  There were loose faceted grains 40cm down underneath the bottom of these two crusts.  Interesting snow profile, but I don’t believe this is a uniform representation of all slopes. Low tide and spatial variability are the name of the game right now.


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Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
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Below Freezing
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More detailed information about the weather: 

It was another superb day in the Sierra with clear skies after the stormy conditions of Christmas. It was 24 degrees F (10,700ft) in the shade at noon and it was above freezing and pleasant at 9600ft at 130pm with melting snow on the south aspects. There was not a consistent prevailing wind today, but it was gusting without relent in the 30-40mph range from the NE to the NW for most of our tour. At the end of our tour around 2pm the wind looked to have picked up and was consistently blowing in the 40-50mph range generally from the north up high. There was turbulent suspension of snow and the skin track was nearly filled in when we ascended for a second lap.

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