January 6, 2008

SoCal Mountains Update

Here in the city, rainfall has been off-and-on the past 36 hours, but the local mountains are reporting snow: 6-12 inches at Mountain High, a foot plus at Mount Baldy, and 4-6 inches at Snow Summit (South winds apparently aren’t as favorable for the San Bernardino Mountains).

If those numbers sound disappointing, don’t forget that we’re talking about a foot of new, heavy, wet snow—a perfect base for the ski areas, and quite possibly enough to make ski touring in the San Gabriels feasible in higher locations.

For the big numbers we turn to Mammoth, which reports a stunning 5-7 feet of new snow in two days.

Obviously, there’s more news than just happy skiers in the Sierra. The storm knocked out power to a million plus in the state, closed highways, and is even blamed for a few deaths. The much-feared mudslides (on burn ground) have not as yet materialized, and things are expected to gradually dry out as the weekend passes.

Posted in Current Conditions | 2 Comments

January 5, 2008

‘Amazing’ Snowfall; Extreme Danger

Locally, it looks like snow levels have stayed high thus far in the San Gabriel Mountains. Consequently Mountain High says they’re closed and the Mt. Baldy Website is down. That makes it hard to predict what’s going on at higher elevations, but even if heavy snow is falling above 9500′, heavy rain has likely destroyed much of the existing snow at lower elevations.

The same can not be said of the Sierra. This looks like a storm for the books, with ESAC reporting several feet of dense snow has fallen throughout the Sierra in the last 18 hours—and another 2-3 on the way.

These giant snowfall totals in such a short time, coupled with extreme winds, make large, dangerous avalanches a virtual certainty in the backcountry. As ESAC forecaster Sue Burak says, “It really is foolish to think about skiing anywhere except Mammoth Mountain.”

Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments

January 4, 2008

Storm of the Half-Century

Did I really just hear the TV News say they’re expecting snowfall rates of 7+ inches per hour in the Sierra?

I also heard some forecasters are also saying this may be the biggest snowfall event in the last fifty years. Residents of Mammoth apparently got “reverse 911″ calls warning them to stock up on supplies, as they may be stranded by the storm for days.


No rain down here in SoCal as yet, but you can bet we’re keeping a close eye on the sky and the mountains.

UPDATE: Lots of Rain now in West LA. Also: ESAC’s advisory says ridgetop wind gusts of 150 to over 200 mph are possible.

Looks like south winds will be a factor in this storm for SoCal, which is potentially good news for the San Gabriel Mountains. Last time something like this came through, we saw 7 feet of new snow at Mt. Baldy Ski Area. Of course, the big factor is temperature. It can just as easily pour 7 inches of rain on the San Gabriels.

Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments

January 3, 2008

$100 Oil and the Stupid Monkeys

The funny thing is, initially this didn’t even strike me as that big of a milestone. I mean, oil has been hovering around the $70-80 per barrel price for so long (relatively speaking), that I’d gotten used to the idea.

But wait a minute—only a few years ago, I believe the OPEC nations were saying that the ideal price would be in the $30 per barrel range, and that they would adjust production as needed to keep the price there.

In case you’re wondering why OPEC would want to keep prices down, the thinking at that time was that higher prices would lead to unwanted consequences, such as conservation, people driving less, buying more efficient vehicles, and turning to other energy sources. So OPEC wanted to keep the price of oil in that sweet spot where they charged as much as possible without damaging consumption—those old ‘maximize the function’ problems that you hated so much in college math class.

So why are oil prices now some three times higher? A big part of the answer has to be growth in the developing world… (more…)

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment

January 2, 2008


Two days ago, I drove home across the desert from Flagstaff, Arizona. Incidentally, they have snow in Flagstaff—lots of it. I was able to ski at the Snowbowl, my hometown resort. Anytime the Snowbowl is open in December, conditions are good. Given how little snow there is across California, I was a little mystified as to where the storms came from, but that’s probably just more evidence of pattern change.

Locally, as I sped past Barstow and Victorville, I good a good look at the north aspects of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains. How are things looking in the local mountains?


Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments

January 1, 2008

Hey…What’s Going on, Here?

Yes, the winds of change are blowing. SierraDescents.com has moved its blog to a brand new folder, managed by the ubiquitous content management software solution, WordPress.

I’ve been mulling this over for a while, now. It’s been a long time coming. Trying to manage a blog by hand (as I had been doing it) was an ever-growing exercise in futility. With WP doing most of the work, I’ll be free to post as I please, which is sure to guarantee a prodigious rise in both my output and inanity.

Also of note, with a dedicated blog section, I think I’ll relax my normally-merciless standards of professionalism, making the blog a more casual endeavor filled with all those off-the-cuff posts I thought about making but never actually got around to.

For my one dedicated critic, yes, you may now comment to your heart’s desire. So can the rest of you, if you care to. SierraDescents has officially gone 2.0, with RSS and all those other goodies. Whatever they are. Get jiggy with it, as they say.

I’m also going back in time and digging up all the old SierraDescents posts from the past two years that have been languishing in the ether of my hard drive. Want to know what I was up to in July 2006? Now it’s just a click away…though, seriously, is anyone really curious about that?

So, enough with the introductions. Here’s to a New Year of blogging, and hopefully a big year of climbing and skiing! Let’s get started…

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Previous Posts ↵