March 12, 2012

The San G Report

The San G Report

Good news here is that I finally blew the dust off my Dynafits. Bad news is conditions weren't very amenable to skiing. Trevor and I hiked up the San Bernardino Wilderness' South Fork Trail to look for snow, and—surprise!—we found it. There was quite a bit more snow than I was expecting, in fact, with at least decent coverage on wind-protected north aspects above 9000' or so.

And now for the bad news... Yes, I expect challenging conditions whenever I ski in Southern California, but in truth I could do absolutely nothing with the snow yesterday. It skied like a nasty breakable crust, only without the crust part. Variable conditions and pervasively unconsolidated snow prevailed on North and East aspects, with total snowpack depth around 2-3 feet.

Is there loose, faceted snow lurking around ground level? Absolutely—so watch for wet slab hazard on a variety of aspects, particularly including east-facing slopes in the vicinity of 10500'.

Higher up, in the big cirque below San Gorgonio and Jepson Peaks, we saw snowpack remnants that have just been murderized by the wind. Picture mostly bare ridges and spines, with occasional patches of snow in gullies and bowls that is wind-texturized and sculpted about 200% beyond the point of skiability.

Will anything season into better skiing as spring advances? Odds don't seem too favorable. Coverage was good on Charlton Peak's north gulley (pictured), but it is thin and still unconsolidated. The problem is the snow may well just melt off before becoming solid (and stable) enough for good skiing. Surely something will remain as we get closer to April...but it is a long haul to get back there for just a few patches of snow.

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Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow



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