Skiing the East Snowfields

2012-01-22 23:01:13.000 – Brian Clark,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist


As is usually the case for me, when the weather and work load allow, I like to get outside on the mountain in the wintertime and do some backcountry skiing. The below average snowfall and relatively slow start to winter has not made for the best coverage in my favorite mid-winter destination: the East Snowfields. I actually got my first turns there at a somewhat unusual time back on Halloween day, but since then (until today) I have only been there once, back in late November. The snow conditions that day were very poor, both in quality and quantity. I am very happy to say that at least the quantity of snow has improved since then.

I left the summit right after my 10 a.m. observation this morning, and returned in time to take care of the 11 a.m. observation. In that time frame, I was able to grab one of our volunteers this week, Paul Goundrey, and make a full run down the East Snowfields. Like I said, the snow coverage was vastly improved since the last time I was there. The snow quality was also better, but still very, well, interesting. In the few hundred vertical feet that we skied, we probably encountered at least 5 different snow surface types. One turn would be on hard wind slab, and the next would be on unconsolidated powder. This variability was fun in some ways and difficult in others. Regardless, it is always nice to get outside on a nice day like today, with plenty of sunshine, relatively warm temperatures (in the lower teens), and relatively low winds (around 20 mph).

It depresses me quite a bit to say that the very seasonal, relatively snowy conditions that we have seen for a few weeks now is going to be spoiled by a rather warm storm late tomorrow into tomorrow night. Although these sorts of storms are not completely uncommon during the mid-winter months, that doesn’t mean that I like them. In my opinion, when it is winter, it should snow. When it is summer, it should rain. Plain and simple. Fortunately, there will be more cold air coming in behind this next storm, and there is even the hint of a coastal storm for later in the week.


Brian Clark,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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