Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mores Creek Summit Blog, back at it again!

After months of no activity at Mores Creek Summit blog, we resume our work today. And .... welcome to this year backcountry ski season!

Saturday December 21st, was a sunny day, and a delightful day to be out. After spending the Austral winter in Argentina and Chile, and arriving late to School in September, I was too busy with school and research snow work to be  able to make it to Idaho's backcountry until after the end of school this last Friday.
300 feet above the road, the forest starts to look wintery!
The day started without wind, but at around 6500 feet the snow surface showed clear signs of a significant north wind event during or immediately after Friday's storm. As I continue to gain elevation, the wind scouring/erosion, wind crust, and transport became more pronounced. Later in the day the wind picked up again, and continue to make surface snow conditions less conducive to good riding. Air temperatures remained between -5 Deg C in the morning and up to -2 Deg C in the afternoon.
Almost Top of the world ... the falling snow is a random google effect that just introduced itself.
It was kind of a short day-had to be early back to Boise to pick my son Pedro at the airport. Time was short but I managed to do four runs at each; Top of The World, Almost Top of The World, a quicky line between The Knob and The Summit Glades, to finish the day early with a run from the top of the Summit Creek Glades down to Summit Creek.

There is a supportive crust all the way down to 6000 feet,. With very careful route selection, it is possible to ski down to Summit creek and exit to the road, with some occasional bushwhacking. Climbing up the snowmobile road to gain access to Pilot Peak backcountry skiing is optimal, but I managed to climb up the second ridge to the north of Mores Creek Summit proper without too much difficulty. Again thanks to the supportable crust. This does not mean that the snowpack is NOT shallow, it is boney!. North and Northeast aspects above 7000 feet have 80 cm or so of snow, but East and Southeast aspects have only 50 cms of snow!
Top of The World Snowpack at 7800 feet, 50 cm thick.
The snowpack was not only shallow at all locations, but at all locations there are three distinctive crust layers with a layer of well developed facet below the crust. the top two layers failed easily during compression tests, and are going to be a problem once they are loaded during next storm. The top layers were too shallow to pose a problem to skier at Mores Creek Summit today.

In the morning two other backcountry skiers shared turns with me at Top of the world. Inspection of the picture below shows the snowpit near the top next to my tracks, at a location with 36 degrees in steepness. A black and white picture of the snowpit is shown above.
Top of The World
There were fun skiing, but snow surface conditions were highly variable. Most of the skiing was above a supportable crust covered with little snow to up to 10 cms. At wind affected slopes, a crust made skiing instructional. Occasionally above 7000 feet at north aspects the crust was not supportable and ski penetrated through most of the snowpack. I avoided such locations to protect my skis from damage.

Between The Knob and Summit Glades.

Tomorrow I will be out again, and will be sharing obs for a different location in Central Idaho.