Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Corner Ski Conditions


My last posting was 3 weeks ago. My guilt is GREATLY alleviated knowing that after the weather event of January 4 through January 6th (warm temps, rain, and wet snow), and subsequent 2 weeks of high pressure and spring temps at high elevations allowing the snowpack to stabilize fast and decisively. I am certain that we can agree that there was very little I could have contributed to the backcountry community in terms of ski or snowpack conditions information during the last two weeks.

I had a great time backcountry skiing the Northern (McCully Basin) and Southern Wallowa (Norway Basin) mountains in Oregon for two long weeks. The snowpack conditions in the Wallowas were similar to SW Idaho (Wallowa Alpine Huts are ONLY 30 air miles from Idaho's West Central Mountains in McCall/Cascade). My first week in The Wallowas I taught a Avalanche Level I class ( 1 day classroom with 4 Day field session). For those interested you can get the class material at:

Feel free to download the Avi Level 1 class file: WAH Avi L1.pdf

Below you will find links to pictures I snapped for two other trips I did after the 5 day Avi class :

Today I visited the Mores Creek Summit area with my friend Mike L. Since we were limited on time we decided to tour the Winter Corner area. We skied first the G-string runs to the East of Winter Corner Summit ridge (please refer to topo maps posted January 2nd) . On our way back we skied the most northerly central ridge line. Check the next two videos from today's skiing:

All I need to say is that skiing was gratifying!

A quick look into the snowpack confirmed my assumption (based on the MANY holes I digged in the Wallowas) that the snowpack is SOLID. However, the cool temps of the last two days have metamorphosed the new snow (10-20 cm) into facets. And these facets are skiing very NICE!

In the N and NE exposures we skied, the snow surface facets were above a fragile melt-freeze layer. I also noticed a hard crust 25 cm below the snow surface with with a 3-4 cm layer of well developed facets below the crust. These two facets layers deserve to be monitored as we get back on track into winter and snow deposition resumes!

I did not have time to poke around and get a sense of spatial distribution of this two facet layers, but during my next visit this weekend I will try to get a picture of these weak layers distribution at various aspects and elevations. Stay tuned!

And remember I am looking for authors for the 'SISTER' blog to this site. We need contributors to share ski conditions as well as snow obs. Please check the FANTASTIC blogging taking place at: