I toured from the top of J 7 today with the hope of finding some sun softened snow on San Joaquin or the negatives.
Ski crampons were necessary equipment today even below treeline on the approach to the hourglass. In addition, boot crampons would be beneficial for the choke of the hourglass.
After reaching the shoulder of San Joaquin, it became obvious that the east face would be quite hard so I decided to drop off the shoulder far skiers left where the angle is more southerly. I found this area to have about 1 cm of moist grains on the surface. Not quite enough to be considered soft, but more pleasant than the skiddering wind board on present on more easterly or northerly aspects.
After this quick descent, I headed toward the negatives and walked my way around to “solar bowl”. Much of the alpine terrain in this area is very thin or completely dry. I found it most efficient to put the skis on the back and walk from the saddle of San Joaquin.
The more solar aspects in the Negatives have much thinner coverage than the more shaded areas which limits the areas that ski through cleanly.
I found aspect made a big difference on ski quality during my descent. I found 5-10 cm of moist surface grains on more SE aspects while areas tilted more easterly surface conditions were mostly hard and slick wind board or in some areas, cold near-surface facets. The sun-softened areas proved to be quite enjoyable, while more shaded areas were predictable, and edge-able albeit a bit more challenging.
No signs of instability were observed on my tour today although surface conditions were quite variable and provided plenty of challenges on their own.
I did my best to find areas with the potential for a small loose wet activity and was unable to do so. Boot pen was about 15-20 cm at most even in areas near rock outcroppings. I suspect on more S_SW aspects LW could have been more concerning.
Sunny skies prevailed today calm to light winds. Temperatures were unseasonable warm with highs in the mid to upper 30°s around 11,000′.