Saturday, March 22, 2008

Snow Conditions for Late March 2008


It has been several weeks since the last posting with information about Mores Creek Summit area snow conditions. I had been guiding a lot this year in the backcountry, and between my REAL job and family responsibilities - there have been no time to visit Mores Creek Summit.

Today Pedro (my oldest son) and I finally skied Freeman this month. It was a bluebird SUNNY day ... the snow was nice ... well check a video taken today - and you can judge by yourself the snow quality. The skier is Pedro.

The snow was really fun at NW/N/NE protected aspects. But as you move around into NEE aspects - there was a zipper crust. Easterly aspects had a good array of instructional snow, but below 7000 feet the crust softened later in the day into some creamy snow -not bad skiing. There should be in sun protected areas additional nice snow waiting to be skied, but Sunday predicted higher temperatures might start affecting these last pockets of good skiing.

A study snow pit profile at 6800 feet - NEE aspect - 30 degrees steep at Freeman looked like this (click on the image to get it magnified - I do not want you to blame me for loosing your eyesight):

As documented in the pit above, compression tests were unremarkable. The new snow was the only layer that reacted to the compression test and it showed a very sluggish Q3 shear quality. It is prudent to keep an eye at the facets buried at 65 cm - they might get revitalized during the spring as the pack becomes isothermal. Shovel shears at this layer showed a very distinctive and clean planar surface - suggesting that up to this point these layer is NOT bonding well.

In another location (7000 feet, NE aspect, 35 degrees steep) stability tests again were unremarkable; CTEQ3 - at the top 25 cm layer (new snow). The test results were consistent for the 3 compression columns tested. The test pit at this more protected location lacked the crust layer (55-60 cm) observed at the other NEE pit. But the rest of the snowpack structure was pretty much the same.

In summary, the Mores Creek Summit snowpack at NW/NE/N aspects at elevations above 6500 feet have all the attributes of a winter snowpack.

It is worthwhile noting that temperatures at shady protected areas were in the range of -5 to -3 degrees C, and in the lower end at mid elevations (6800-7200 feet). For less protected areas and at higher elevation (+7800 feet) the temperatures at shady spots hovered around 1 degree C. These temperatures correlated well with the quality of the POW - the best skiing was at mid elevations in shady sheltered aspects.

Next week storm is expected to be relatively cold for late March - and if we get more than 15 cm of snow - it will be really good skiing. Get out an enjoy!