February 7, 2022
February 7, 2022
Chris Engelhardt | ESAC Forecaster
Zone or Region:
Big Pine Creek
Birch Mountain-SE chutes
Stability Rating: Very Good
Confidence in Rating:
Stability Trend: Steady
- Sunny days continue and it was a another warm one out there. Although its south of the official forecast zone… I’m starting to run out of places to go… especially southerly aspects that are still holding snow, so I thought Id check out Birch Mountain today and warming effects from the forecasted calm and balmy day. I really wanted to get up to higher elevations to see if snow surface warming is actually taking place, but got to late of a start after writing the Bulletin this morning. Even so with nearly a 4000ft vertical climb and 3 miles of skinning and hiking I made it up 10,500ft.
- It was 43degF @ 10500ft @1pm and dead calm.
- I skinned up a SE facing couloir which dog legged providing a even more southerly tilt in the upper 1000 vertical feet. Snow grains on the surfaces are starting to resemble true corn snow with large diameter rounded polycrystals. The overall snow in the couloir was very consolidated and exhibited spring like conditions. Ski and Boot penetration was no deeper than 10cm’s as I ascended mid-day.
- I descended at 1pm and only got some light cascading corn sprays off my turns. The primary hazard was potential rock fall today, Loose-wet avalanche concerns were not an issue. With this lengthy drought, it seems like most southerly aspects at least below 11000ft are baking down and becoming quite consolidated. Still not to much information on southerly high alpine terrain above 11K.
- Total snow depths at there deepest are around 1meter on SE and a bit deeper where previously wind loaded. Most sunny aspects are diminishing quickly unfortunately.
- A good description would be “crusty corn” as there really is not to many smooth surfaces, lots of undulations from underlying topography and 3-dimensional surfaces. This mid-winter pseudo corn skiing on a shallow “2-storm” snow pack is just not the hero corn of a 2-3 meter snowpack under-going continuous melt-freeze cycle.
- Northerly aspects on Mt Tinemaha looked severely eroded and very variable to say the least. Terrain is not filled into to typical Sierra standards that is for sure. We need winter to return now!