Snowpack Tests near Deadman Pass

Submission Info
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 12:00pm
Red Flags: 
37° 41' 46.32" N, 119° 4' 22.8" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Drove to the end of Deadman Creek Rd, hiked up the trail to consistent snow (~8700'), then toured up to 9800' just under the top of San Joaquin Ridge in the bowl just N of Deadman Pass proper. Did a series of snowpack tests targeting hard old wind slabs on top of facets. First test site at 9219' on a WNW aspect: snow depth- 90cm, slope angle- 19 deg., CT11 SP X2 down 20cm in a 10cm thick layer of F hard facets under a P hard wind slab, ECTP12 in the same layer (see attached video); second test site at 9590' on a WNW aspect: snow depth- 75cm, slope angle- 25 deg., CTN and CTH BRK; test site 3 at 9826' on a NNE aspect: snow depth- 120cm, slope angle- 18 deg., CT14 PC down 10cm at an interface between 4F and F hard layers, CT16 SP X2 down 32cm on 4F hard facets under a 1F hard old wind slab, ECTP15 down 32cm in the same facet layer. Hand shears across several slopes required hard force to pull out, and the snow was largely unconsolidated facets. The snowpack in many locations above ~8900' was deep, soft, surface facets; snow depth at that elevation was about 55cm. Below ~8900', the snow was uniformly wet, sticky, and spring-like. These observations, taken together, show that our persistent problem of facets under old hard wind slabs is still with us. These slabs remain isolated and stubborn in nature for today. But take note as we get more snow. A heavy load of new precipitation will make the problem more pronounced. For now, maybe a snowmobile, or a skier landing a drop might be able to trigger these slabs where they are less supported, slightly softer, or thinner. There was good skiing to be had on more sheltered slopes where the surface was sugary. These surface facets could also pose a problem when buried by new snow.

Side note about access: While the Deadman Creek Rd is drivable with 4WD to the end, the approach to snowline is bush-whacky and not necessarily recommended. Might be better to get a snowmobile ride along the top of the ridge from Minaret Vista to access this area.

Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
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More detailed information about the weather: 
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