Monday, March 24, 2008

Pilot Peak Conditions, Snotel Data, and Skiing at Bogus Side-Country

Hola Amigos!

We had today (Monday) another day of warm temperatures in the mountains. Temperatures at the Mores Creek summit located at 6100 feet reached 50 Deg-F. The good news is that even on cloudy nights, the temperatures had been dropping below the freezing level. That has contributed in maintaining a winter pack at most aspects and elevations (> 6000 feet) at Mores Creek Summit area. The warmer south aspects are also receiving a solid freeze.

A good friend provided the following summary for Monday skiing at Pilot Peak:

GD and I skied some of the northerly aspects off the east ridge of Pilot today. It was definitely true that if we wrapped around to a NE aspect, or got onto anything that receives sun, there was variable snow with a breakable crust. There was still powder in the protected north faces, though, pretty nice. It snowed steadily for a couple hours, but with little accumulation.

A cursory inspection of the latest Snotel data included below shows a temperature average trending above 32 Deg-F. Such temperatures allow the snowpack to settle, thus promote sintering. That snowpack stabilization was validated this weekend by the lack of active layers during compression stability tests.

As the average temperature continues its upward trend, it is a good idea to keep in mind that there is a period when a winter to spring transitional snowpack might become unstable as it looses strength due to radiation and/or convective heating. And this last weekend (check previous blog posting) some layers of concern were identified.

Sunday I was lucky to ski the Bogus Basin side-country. I skied at two locations outside the resort boundaries; NE of Shaffer Butte and SE of Deer Point. Included below the topo maps for these two areas:

In red the runs I skied Sunday. The green trace on the second topo map was already tracked, so I did not skied it, but use it for the uphill track. The ski line on the first topo map was named by my "Backcountry Boarder" son as Nirvana earlier this winter. Below I include a short video clip from that early January day with my two sons, Pedro and Fritz.

The name reflects the snow quality of this line when we have winters with abundant snow due to its wind sheltered North aspect. This area is accessed via the backcountry gate between the Resort Triangle and Stump Patch areas.

Last Sunday it was fun skiing Nirvana with 20-25 com at the top 400 feet, but the lower 200 feet had a "dust on crust feel" with barely 10 cm of new snow in top of a bullet proof rain crust. Once I got to the very steep creek bottom, right next to a bloody mountain lion den, with bloody leftover bones lying around ... I realized that it was smart to skin-up FAST .. but skinning was not an option ... as hard as I tried I could not punch through the crust, and I could not get the edges/skin to bite on the steep creek bottom. With my heart racing, I had to boot-up 200 feet to be able to finally put in a track on the deeper new snow.

After skiing Nirvana, I assumed (due to overcast nature of the day) that there was no chance of skiing "corn" at Boise Front below Deer Point, but I wanted to check it out - and scout it - it has been 2 years since the last time I skied them. This ski terrain has elegant steep lines, with drops in excess of 1200 feet, and some of the best corn anywhere!

To my DELIGHT and SURPRISE the slopes to the SE of Deer Point had perfect corn. And I mean 2 cm of perfect corn - not slush! I have no idea how it happened, since it was a cloudy day. I guess the combination of temperatures, low wind, high density isothermal pack, and cloud cover produced the corn snow. Too bad I had to get home to manage the BBQ - or I would had skied a third line!

Check the blog later in the week, since I will be visiting the backcountry, and I will be posting updated ski and snow conditions.