Saturday, December 18, 2010

some good snow

well, right after it rained, it snowed. if you read or call into the big mtn's snow report, you know big dave can get excited about no new snow and big time groomers. but so far this year, most of his exclamations have been spot on.

we did get some rain, all the way to 7000'+, but it was followed by snow, some heavy, then some light. so the skiing the last three days has been quite nice, especially above 6000'. and with no one on the hill, it felt like old times. just a few local skiers. even the stube had that feeling. 20-30 good friends toasting another good day as the sun leaves the sky and darkness falls.

yesterday i did a short tour up near baby's butt. we dug a pit at about 6500'. pit depth was 221cm. note, this is much deeper than the big is reporting on top. the top 40cm were all new from the last 4 days, sitting on a brutal ice crust formed during the rain cycle. but right now, there is not a fragile layer sitting on top of that ice. in an extended column test, we got absolutely no failure. even with a shovel shear test (yes, i realize this is not a good test, but we had already done the important stuff, and had to break down the pit anyway) the first failure was below this crust.

we did find some significant temperature variation in the top 50cm, which will be worth watching, and with yesterday's clear skies, a significant hoar frost had already developed. i expect it has grown some more.

so the skiing was excellent, boot top, super light, and for the top 1000' vert, we mostly stayed off the crust. but as we dropped in elevation, that crust became more prevalent, and it skied more like dust (a lot of dust) on crust.

below the ice crust, we found mostly four finger hardness until we reached the bottom 60cm. at 49 cm was another significant crust, and from 60cm down, was a bunch of unconsolidated junk.

so for now, i think the skiing is pretty safe, at least on the north aspects we skied. we saw multiple tracks on the skookoleel face, Oz face and a couple of skook chutes, which all looked good. even the snowmobiliers were high pointing beyond what i would ever consider without causing harm. hard to call it all good, but for a couple of days, with this high pressure, it seems pretty safe.

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