Over ice travel in spring

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Over ice travel in spring


I am planning a Mono Divide 5-day route in late April that includes stretches through lakes basins dotted with small and large lakes. I am new to skiing in the Sierra Nevada but am familiar with general guidelines for over ice travel, based primarily upon experience ice skating and winter camping in the deep freeze of New England. But my ice experience back East doesn't seem particularly relevant to these high altitude (>10,000'), deeply buried in snow lakes (and sometimes completely hidden!), and a more maritime climate. As far as ease of travel and avalanche safely, I would prefer to traverse frozen lakes when possible, but am looking for some sage advice on when this is and isn't a good idea. As of writing, the lakes in question have been well below freezing for many months. So here are my questions:

--In early spring, do you travel over lakes or skirt the edges?

--How do you assess ice thickness and safety when the ice is buried under 15' of snow?

--Do you even worry about this?




midi510's picture
Lake Crossings

Last Sunday, I crossed Lake Mary with no reservations. No water around the edges, no whomping or cracks, I felt perfectly safe. I grew up ice fishing on Lake Mary.

Today I crossed Duck Lake, Pika, Barney, and Skelton. All were perfectly safe in my opinion. It was cold last night and there was a cold north wind blowing all day. The jet stream is hammering straight down on us right now. If we get a warm spell, I might have second thoughts, but right now you're golden.



Edit: After reading your post again I wanted to add that I pay attention to local weather (temp) history, open water around the edges, standing water in the snowpack, lake depth, exposure to the sun, visible cracks/splitting, and once venturing out, listen and feel.

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