January 19, 2010
Just got back last night—drive home from June Lake was very challenging. I'll be writing quite a bit over the next month about my Avalanche class experience. For now, let me say I'm really glad I did it. Did the class make me an expert on avalanches? Absolutely not. But I did learn a great deal, and just as importantly, I got motivated to keep learning.
Obviously the big news right now in the skiing world is the storm cycle. Whether or not this is a classic El Nino pattern I'll leave to the experts. Suffice to say I've seen potential rainfall totals (for the combined systems) estimated in the 8-20" range (that's rain, not snow!), meaning we're going to be seeing a wide range of impacts, some good, some not so good. Sierra snowfall totals should be in the 6-12 foot range, which is massive. Local mountain snowfall is harder to call, as many areas will see rain mixed with snow, making the totals misleadingly low. Still, Mount Baldy is reporting 7-16" of new snow this morning.
It should go without saying that only the most experienced winter mountaineers should even consider going out into the backcountry this week, and even they are probably best advised to stay home. Even those thinking about heading to the mountains for inbounds skiing should beware potential road closures, mudslides, bridges destroyed, traffic accidents, etc. Whatever you do, be conservative. As I was reminded just last night, it's not a good feeling when you know you're right on the edge of spending an unplanned night in your car (or worse) in a raging blizzard.