Solar warming on East peak, small loose wet instabilities

East face, East peak
Submission Info
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 12:00pm
Red Flags: 
Recent avalanche activity
Rapid warming
37° 54' 34.6176" N, 119° 11' 49.4736" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Toured up to the Summit of East peak off the Dana plateau from Horse creek meadows today. There are still a few large drifts left on the steep section of road that kept me from attempting the drive to the upper meadows but if our current trend continues this section will be dry very soon.  We started off in our tennis shoes and kept them on until we rounded the corner into Gibbs creek at around 9000’ walking on dry dirt, frozen snow, and the occasional patch of breakable crust.

It was immediately clear how much snow has melted away since the last time I was here on the 30th of March. Slidable coverage is disappearing fast, particularly at lower elevations and lots of shenanigans are required to keep the boards on back to the summer trailhead. Rock skis are recommended for the required bush skiing.

We had originally hoped to climb and ski the SE facing gully off the summit of East peak but given the thin/ non-existent coverage in the apron and our timing we shifted our goal to the centerline on the east face. We reached the summit at about 1130 and were descending by noon. Winds were light out of the SW with moderate gusts and temps were quite warm. I think an hour earlier would have been preferable. I triggered a small (D1) loose wet avalanche, initiating with a short ski cut on a 40° slope right off the summit that ran for about 800’. While this was not large enough to be overly concerning it certainly would have been enough to knock a skier off their feet.  Boot pen on our ascent maxed out at about 10 cm and surface conditions are becoming 3 dimensional (young sun cups) and could be best described as “crunchy corn” but it was still highly enjoyable and other than the small loose wet, no other signs of instability were observed.

As alluded to above the rest of our descent back to the car was full of shenanigans and coverage was quite thin. Below 10,000’ or so we observed the snowpack on NE-E-S aspects to be iso-thermal and unconsolidated. What was supportable in the morning hours became a hot mess by midafternoon with ski pen in places over 20 cm and boot pen to the ground ~60 cm~.

A series of cold nights with very strong refreeze might help reverse this trend but given our current run of above-average daytime highs and weak surface refreezes I suspect we will continue to see coverage dwindle at a fast pace.

Snowpack photos: 
Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
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Air temperature: 
Above Freezing
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