Sunday, December 14, 2008

2008-2009 Backcountry Ski Season

Today was my first ski day of this season. A late start considering that last year I was already skiing late in October.

Fritz, my son, and I toured Big Creek Summit today Sunday.

We found almost a meter of snow at the 7400 NNE aspect. The top 400 feet of skiing consisted of epic face shots. But below the 7000 feet the low density snow did not have a base. We managed to avoid serious damage to the boards, but it was definitely sketchy with the many rocks, deadwood, and stumps barely covered by the recent snow.

The snow pit for Big Creek is included below. Click on the image for a better view of the pit profile.

Stability tests (ECT and CT) and snow pit analysis suggested stable conditions. The weak layer below 60 cm deserves to be monitor. This facet weak layer might become reactive as the snowpack continues to be loaded and the top 60 cm gain strength thus becoming cohesive.

The snotel for Big Creek (6589 feet) reported a snow depth of 21.9 inches. That was consistent with our observations at the same elevation.

Mores Creek summit snotel reported today a snowdepth as high as 37 inches, considerably higher than the low 20 inches reported for Big Creek and Banner summits. Did anybody skied Mores Creek or Banner summit areas this Sunday? Can we get a ski and snow conditions report for Pilot/Freeman Peak or Copper mountain?

Wednesday December 17th I will conducting an Avalanche Awareness Session at the Fish and Game (Walnut Street). The event starts at 7:00 PM. The avalanche awareness topics to be covered are summarized in the following document Avi Awareness v2.pdf and it can be found in th efollowing link

During the season I will continue posting useful documents.


  1. I received this update for the Mores Creek Summit area:

    Hi Chago,
    We were up at Mores Creek Summit yesterday finding Christmas trees using snowshoes instead of skis. Near the snowmobile parking I can confirm the ~37 inches of total snow that the snotel is reporting. Almost 30 inches of that is new, light pow so there's not much base. Looking at the rest of snotel network this morning Bogus and Mores Ck where the big winners this weekend with storm totals of 23" and 28" respectively. Beware of hidden branches etc... these tripped me up while hauling the tree back to the parking lot. I saw some skiers heading out when we arrived, maybe there is a slightly better base up higher?

  2. Another report for Mores Creek Summit:

    i did ski pilot yesterday. we climbed up the road to just below the summit. there was approximately 3 feet of new snow virtually all of which had fallen in the last 72hrs. the snow was very light and unconsolidated. we saw lots of signs of collapse and fracture on all aspects particularly at 35 degrees or greater. there was, however, no propagation of the slides. as mike said the snow was laterally bottomless. you could put your pole into the handle and hit the ground. one of the party had been up to the area 2 wks prior and said that there was some areas with about a 10-12 in base. this was sparse and inconsistent. the skiing was very dangerous with lot's of covered rocks, logs, etc. we elected to tour rather than risk an early season injury. a beautiful day in the mountains.



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