Thursday, December 29, 2016

Winter Corner - December 28, 2016

Wednesday we visited Winter Corner to enjoy 15 cms of new snow and to see first hand how the landscape has changed after the Pioneer Fire.
Winter Corner Burnt Forest
Winter Corner offers great riding options that are not obvious from Idaho 21 road. There is enough terrain to keep several parties entertained on a pow day. From its west slopes, spinal ridges, snow filled gullies, natural freeskier "trick" features, and mellow dead north runs Winter Corner that surprises with its ample opportunities to explore.
Splitboarder riding pow at Winter Corner - December 28
The elevation at Winter Corner (high point  ~ 7000 feet) is relatively low, but it is tucked in a mostly northerly aspect that traps cold air and stays cold, preserving snow quality for weeks after a storm. In addition, several ridges around Winter Corner basin shelters it from wind events.
Early Morning Sun barely glazing a North aspect slope.
Not so unexpectedly, the snow cover and depth has greatly improved at Winter Corner as well as other areas at Mores Creek Summit that burn during the Pioneer Fire. Snow tree interception has been reduced or eliminated altogether at places. Reduced snow tree interception is permitting the development of a deeper snowpack that is covering deadfall, rocks, and brush much better than in the past. But we must also recognize the change in the forest canopy has other implications, such as the development of surface hoar and some types of surface facet due to radiation cooling. This will be an important winter to study and track MCS instability cycles and their linkage to landscape modification from the Pioneer Fire.
Winter Corner
The snowpack changed very little from our last visit to MCS on December 26th. An additional 15 cm of new snow now rests above 30 cm of the storm layer from December 24th. The Christmas day layer rest above a crust that is undergoing faceting.

At the places, we toured and skied yesterday we did not find the formation of a slab that will make the buried weak layer reactive, with few exceptions. We were searching and skiing pow lines. In other words, staying away from slabby snow.
Decorating Winter Corner with pow lines
There were some isolated steep spots where we observed cracking under our skis while building the uphill track. These isolated spots had 45 cms of soft snow resting on top of a well-developed facet layer.

The views of East Pilot Peak are splendid from Winter Corner. The next two pictures snapped from slightly different locations at Winter Corner allow us to appreciate the ski terrain East of Pilot Peak.
Pilot Peak - East aspect

Pilot Peak - East aspect
During "tea break" times, we observed as several folks skinned and skied Pilot Peak. We also heard the happy howling from a party descending the "Knob Ridge".

During the Christmas Holiday's Mores Creek Summit (MCS) has seen a healthy dose of visits from skiers and snowmobilers. Parking at MCS has been complicated due to limited plowing at the MCS snowmobile parking and pull-outs. To be safe when accessing your vehicle and avoid an Idaho City Sheriff Office ticket, skiers need to make sure they park their vehicles beyond the road edge. Since we all carry shovels let's make use of them. We are a caring community, and the parking space we shovel will be used by another party another day.
Creating a parking spot a pull-out. The space created for the vehicle has to be large enough to clear the road edge.
I wish that we were a community that will embrace a "parking fee" scheme, but it is unlikely. I am not aware of the reasons IDT is not regularly plowing the car pull-outs at I21/MCS pass area. But I suspect I will hear a litany about budget cuts.

As an American citizen, I have the right to access Public Federal Lands. And I am taking personal steps to exercise my right to tour and ride at Mores Creek Summit. I will continue to clear a safe spot to park my vehicle. A safe spot that will allow to safely unload and load the vehicle without affecting traffic at Idaho 21. I hope to motivate others to put some efforts and shovel parking spaces at I21 vehicle pull-outs. If we all put some effort into regularly shoveling snow at car pull-outs, it will get easier for all of us. We just need to take care of the most recent snow.