March 26, 2022
March 26, 2022
Christopher Engelhardt | ESAC Forecaster
Zone or Region:
Mt Tom-Elderberry Canyon-non freeze at lower elevations-recent Wet-Loose activity
- Recent Wet-Loose point release within the last 48 hr starting from shallow pockets of snow in heating cliffs at the 13000ft level and running mid way down the apron in the upper headwall of Elderberry Canyon. D1.5 in size
- Remaining snow below 8500 did not freeze overnight and was 100% unsupportable after mid-day on the descent.
Stability Rating: Fair
Confidence in Rating:
Stability Trend: Worsening
- Headed up Elderberry Canyon today on Mt Tom with a good hike through greening desert to minimal snowline ~7500ft. Snow is thin in the lower reaches of the canyon and is going fast. Thin snowfields bel0w 8500 did not freeze overnight but offered a little support in the morning with 15-20cm ski penetration.
- Superficial surface freeze above 8500 with 10cm surface freeze over primarily isothermal snowpack.
- Smooth windboard sections still provided “slide for life” conditions during the cool cloudy morning hours. Both a member in our party and in another both took slides while travelling up and got some nasty abrasions on elbows and forearms. Ski Crampons and knowledge how to use them highly recommended.
- Old wind slabs still offer the best travel and support, but even by the end of the day down low they were breaking down and collapsing under skier weight.
- Best travel and skiing is relegated to smooth wind slab sections and in areas where avalanche activity in December really compacted snow, otherwise most other surfaces are isothermal and offer punchy skiing and skinning.
- One D1.5 Wet Loose avalanche had run in the upper headwall of Elderberry likely within the last 48hrs. It started as a point release in a shallow pocket of snow within heating rock outcroppings and had run around 800feet. East Aspect ~12600ft
- Still not very much smooth surfaces out there with rough grainy old surfaces providing softer turns, but not the magic carpet ride the high sierra is well know for in the spring, despite still fun and worth the adventure.
- We agreed in you un-wisely decided to ski steeper 35deg+ terrain on heating East aspects, you could of easily started Wet-loose action avalanches on turns and could get yourself in trouble either by bottoming out and hurting your lower extremities or getting caught in a slide. It was hot by mid-day and most of the non-wind pressed snow or previously avalanched slopes were complete mush, loose and suspect.
- Lower survival travel on the way out, legitimate trench warfare skiing with “knee deep” bottoming out through heinous snow in the lower reaches this afternoon. Absolutely thankful for everyone getting down with out an injury.