Spring Skiing

Observer(s) Location: Report #:
Mode of Travel: Complete Report Date/Time: Orig Report Date/Time:
Ski (Mountaineering AT, Tele etc)   04/05/2014 6:21 PM 04/04/2014 11:48 AM
Type of Report:

Red Flags:
Recent avalanche activity
Intense precipitation
Whumpfing sounds or cracks


Since no one has posted any observations in over two weeks, I thought I would try and summarize some observations in the northern Wallowa backcountry during that time period to bring the record up to date as the next storm cycle arrives today through Sunday.

From 3/11 until 3/27, the northern Wallowas received minimal snow accumulations, and what little snow did fall was quickly redistributed by winds in the alpine.  A fine melt-freeze cycle occurred from 3/21 to 3/24 with clear sunny days and hard nighttime freezes providing great "corn" skiing on solar aspects during this time period.  HS in McCully settled from a high of 175 cm on 3/11 down to 145 cm on 3/26.

From 3/27 to 3/30, McCully Basin (7600') received over 55 cm new snow, initially accompanied by moderate-strong S-SW winds.  The storm went through several density changes, with rain up to ~7000' on 3/28.  Not surprisingly, this new snow did not bond well to to the old snow surface and natural and skier triggered avalanches ensued.  On 3/29 skiers reported SS-ASc-R2-D2-I on a 37 degree east-facing slope in McCully Basin at 8400' with crown up to 70 cm.  Many steep north facing slopes ran naturally during this cycle as well.

After a couple days of calm winds and below freezing but mild temps, stability improved creating a brief window for skiing powder in the alpine.  On Wednesday, 4/2 NW winds increased, creating sensitive wind slabs on cross-loaded and lee slopes in the alpine, while clearing skies produced roller balls and wet-loose activity on W-S-E aspects.  Observed numerous crowns from 3/29 avalanche cycle on steep N facing slopes between 7000-8000' in Big Sheep Cr. yesterday.  Solar aspects were getting slushy below treeline, with an observed temperature of 6 degrees C at 6500' around 2 pm.


Snow & Weather