Climbed and skied a N, NE aspect on the Wheeler Crest this morning to assess warming snow at lower and middle elevations on these aspects, and to gamble with this morning’s cloud cover for some soft turns at the upper elevations.
At 0830 the snow at 7800′ had only a slight refrozen crust overlying isothermal, unsupportive snow where you could easily sink to the ground on foot. Climbing up a shallow gully feature the only reliably supportable snow up to 11100′ was old pressed wind board. Anything shallow or textured was softening first and you could sink beyond boot top pretty easily. Steeper slopes with a more eastern tilt to them warmed to a degree that you could manage without ski crampons, but they sure did add some security.
At 1130 at 11100′ near ridgetop the wind was calm, gusting to a light speed out of the Southwest. Temperature was a balmy 45F but it felt cool thanks to the still cloudy skies. The upper pitches of our descent were firm and smooth, but began to soften at about 10500′ to a pleasant degree with about 1/2″ ski penetration at most. Below 10000′ anything other than smooth windboard was treacherous, trap door ridden, rotten snow.
By 1245 the cloud deck was becoming more thin and the incoming radiation was obviously stronger and the snow started to develop that greenhouse type feel to it. We did not observe any obvious signs of instability today, but may have timed it right with the cloud. The warm temperatures and poor overnight recovery obviously did not help the snow. But, any unsupportive snow we traveled on was on low angle terrain so I could not get a sense as to how prone to sliding it might be on lower elevation N facing terrain. Certainly the high North facing terrain felt firm and locked up still.
Very warm temperatures, light winds and slowly clearing cloud cover.Close