I traveled on just about every type of snow imaginable today on my tour from the powerplant road, up Coke chute, across the dana plateau and down the Kidney Chute.
Coverage is still adequate for sliding below V bowl however the snowpack is very thin at lower elevations. Wide swaths of dry ground exist, particularly in areas immediately adjacent to large trees. The snow surface also has a “dirty” appearance here, littered with dust and tree debris.
Ski crampons were useful while ascending the lower flanks of V bowl as the refrozen surface was very hard. On the steeper flanks of V bowl, I found the snowpack to be variable. skinning was adventurous as conditions changed from areas of hard supportable wind board, refrozen tracks, and large areas where the snowpack faceted and unsupportable.
Coke chute is very hard and slick and climbing the chute proved to be the least secure movement of my day. Needless to say, I was very glad to have crampons and an ice ax. I would have preferred to have two.
The headwall of Coke chute has very large sastrugi and areas with recent rockfall debris. I did not descend coke chute on my return to the car but I would have likely down-climbed off the plateau as the skiing would have been high consequence.
I dropped off the summit of Kidney chute at around 1 pm. Surface snow was sun softened and quite enjoyable. On average I found about 1-3 cm of moist grains on a supportable base. At this time a large part of the chute had been cast back into the shade and was beginning to refreze. I would have preferred to be there a bit earlier.
I traversed skiers left to try and find areas with more direct sun exposure to see if small loose wet sloughing would be possible. I found at most 15 cm pf moist grains and a boot pen of ~20 cm~ I was able to push around some larger chunks of snow with effort but I did not observe anything concerning. rather than fanning into larger sloughs chunks would disintegrate into smaller and smaller debris, even in steeper terrain.
I opted to traverse around the SE side of East peak from kidney lake. Coverage is thinning on these more solar aspects. A few areas of dry ground and thin punchy isothermal snow exist at these lower elevations but overall the traverse went quickly.
Dropping from the bench below East peak back to powerplant road proved to be the least enjoyable and most variable part of my day. Surface conditions range from largely textured bulletproof wind board, breakable grabby crusts, to sallow and unsupportable facets, and everything in between. Sometimes all of the above from one turn to the next.
No signs of instability were observed on my tour today
While I found some enjoyable skiing today the price of admission was very high. My big takeaway today was that there are a lot of ways to get hurt in the backcountry right now. Despite the low avalanche hazard, the surface conditions are very challenging and provide their own hazards. Falls could very easily lead to a “slide for life” situation in many areas. And punchy crusty conditions made for a very challenging movement at times.
Light , N
Sunny skies, mostly calm winds, and mild temperatures made for a beautiful day in the backcountry today.
845 am @ 7400’ 25° f, Calm winds, bp=0cm
1030 am @ 10,000’ 33°f , light N winds, bp=0
1230 am @ 11,600’ 32°f, light N winds, bp=0
100 pm @ 12,200’ 31°f, Calm winds, bp=0
200 pm @10,000’ 44°f, calm winds, bp = 30 cm /ground