McGee Creek/Esha Canyon Surface Conditions and Weather Observation
Signs of Unstable Snow
Confidence in Rating:
Today we started at 7AM from the McGee Creek Pack Station to head up Esha Canyon. Travel was very firm and we ended up using boot crampons to travel up the lower part of the canyon. We then headed up to the base of Esha Peak and then up and over the shoulder then down the Wineglass for a proper adventure day of skiing. Here are some key points from today.
Despite warm overnight temperatures, the clear skies resulted in a good overnight freeze on the snow surface.
Travel was easy, but a slide for life was possible before the surface warmed to get better grip with skins or boots.
Esha canyon does not have continuous snow coverage and you will have to take your skis off at least once to reach the base of the peak depending on which way you go.
Esha Peak had a lot of ski tracks on it, boot packs in multiple features and uneven surface textures except in isolated features where the diurnal cycle had smoothed things over.
We encountered Melt Freeze Crust everywhere except the most sheltered north facing terrain above 11,000 feet.
On more solar aspects at this elevation there was rotten and isothermal snow especially near rocks and in steeper terrain
Getting over the the Wineglass we walked mostly on rock to traverse the ridge and got a good view up toward Red and White Mountain in Upper McGee Creek. Snow coverage still looks decent deeper in the range for those wanting to explore out there.
The Wineglass Couloir had spring snow and timing was critical to get the softest turns. Though we did encounter some firmer surfaces in the shade down lower and dirty snow with rock and other debris at the bottom of the stem.
From the car we walked on dirt and sagebrush for less than 30 minutes on each end of our ski day.
If you are keen to get out and explore the range right now there are places to go and turns to be made. Just be ready for some of the added challenges the snow conditions and coverage dictate.