March 3, 2022
March 3, 2022
Chris Engelhardt | ESAC Forecaster
Zone or Region:
Mt Gibbs- approach-lack of snow and arduous conditions
- On my quest to try to get observations from a wide sampling of the forecast zone I made the ill-fated decision to try to access the east side of Mt Gibbs form Bohler canyon. I was hoping the upper meadows held more contiguous snow to connect to the east side gullies, but I turned out to be wrong.
- Since the wildfire burned through Bohler canyon, the subsequent regeneration of Aspen has made for some pretty thick conditions and snow coverage was dismal to say the least.
- I headed up staying on the northerly aspect of the moraine and drainage with some initial areas that gave hope, but the upper reaches and meadow above the main aspen grove were mostly bare and devoid of snow. The risk vs reward of even getting up to the lower reaches of the east gullies was just not there for me (degraded 3-dimensional snow, intermixed with shrub). Stepping in gopher holes and catching ski tips under shrubs and bent over snares of young aspen made me abort the mission. It wasn’t prudent to keep pushing higher for no reward or further information on snowpack. There isn’t anything going on with avalanches in the Eastern Sierra and there hasn’t been for over 2 months. It hasn’t snowed any measurable amount in a majority of the forecast zone since December. After three seasons of quite possibly some of the worst snow conditions I’ve tried to travel upon, I’m starting to reach a breaking point and have to measure what exposure the old body should endure.
- The East gullies look smooth for the most part with some skidmarks of fallen rock and dirt in the lower reaches. For the most part the main face of the mountain is devoid of snow except for the prominent gullies. It was close to 3 miles just to get to the base of the gullies from Bohler canyon and you would need an early start to make it possible. The road to walker lake gets you closer, but most of the time its gated and closed for the private property up there as far as I know.
- To boot, by the time I got to the base of Mt Gibbs the overcast skies got heavier and the southwest wind increased to 20mph. I did not see much opportunity for much warming up there, although the scabs of snow from 8000ft down at least had a softened surface to bushwack back down through.