A Very Wet Waterman

Skiing in a blizzard at Waterman Ski Lifts

With weekend snow levels forecast to dip as low as 4000', it was possible to believe there'd be cold April powder turns in the mountains this weekend.

The reality was quite a bit wetter. Temps at the base of Waterman hovered around 31 degrees yesterday, but with super-saturated air, there was standing water everywhere, making for a very soggy day.

That's SoCal skiing, I guess. Waterman had maybe two inches of fresh slushy powder by 1 p.m. I heard more fell later that afternoon, though I doubt it got much colder.

I was hoping to climb and ski Kratka (in bottomless powder, perhaps?), but Caltrans had the road closed just past Waterman, now apparently forbidding pedestrians as well as motorized travel.

We ascended the fire road in between Waterman and Buckhorn, then diverted to the Waterman hut for a hot lunch as it became obvious the skiing wasn't going to be stellar.

Waterman's coverage was good, but a lot has melted off since I was there last. Much of the eastern aspects between Waterman and Buckhorn were too bare even for skinning up. The western backcountry/car shuttle looked burnt out as well.

Though the road was clear to Waterman, I don't think there's any chance Caltrans would have had the 6000' gate open if Waterman hadn't been running its ski lifts. So there's cause to root for Waterman management, regardless of their fondness for private lift days.

— April 15, 2024

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

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