Summit Chutes, directly west of Mt. Rose Summit along the east ridge of Tamarack Peak.
Decent (2-4 feet). Windloading has deepened some locations, and scoured others. New snow of 3-5 inches has hidden obstacles such as rocks and stumps. We skied with caution, and still tagged a few hazards. Snow coverage looked alright elsewhere in the area (looking up at proletariat it showed good coverage but a few rocks visible), although did not appear to deepen substantially with increased elevation. Overall, things seem comparable to last year at these elevations, and the touring is reasonably good if you don't care too much about your gear.
Snowpack Discussion/Red Flags:
Hoar/intermountain snowpack forming. Temps have been cold, and skies clear. A lack of wind or other disturbances has lead to formation of surface hoar, and a buried layer of hoar under the last snowfall. I triggered substantial sloughing of the most recent snowfall (3-5 inches) on steeper slopes, which was breaking away at the buried hoar layer mentioned. The buried layer, and surface hoar will continue to be problematic unless we see conditions which eliminate those layers (wind/rain/large snow event with avalanche purges).
I would use extra caution in the backcountry, following the next large storm cycle. The current snowpack that we observed is extremely likely to create a very touchy avalanche setup.
Now on to the fun!
It was my first backcountry day of the season, so naturally I was bound to forget something (although my partner of course forgot nothing). My first "oops" moment happened on the ride up Mt. Rose Highway, when I turned on my beacon for the first time all year. The battery percentage?? It literally read 0. Ok, ok, better turn around. I had meant to get some batteries anyway, and had simply forgot.
After grabbing some batteries at the closest gas station (it was now about 2:30PM), we headed back up the pass. I was thinking about where we'd ski, and contemplating gear. Then it hit me...I'd forgotten my skins. Shit, what a gaper! We'd originally planned to head up Tamarack and check out conditions, but that seemed out of the question. So what to do -abandon the mission, or bootpack?
We agreed that we had to still try and ski something, so we opted for the "easy" zone just west of Mt Rose Summit. The zone that everybody hits, with some rails in the forest, cliffs, etc. You typically go there if you don't have backcountry gear or experience because its easy to access, and you can walk back on the highway.
We passed the typical Tamarack Parking lot, and noticed an abundance of cars (especially for 3PM). As more people get into backcountry, this seems to be a very popular spot. At the summit, we noticed lots of fresh lines in the "easy" zone, and had the parking lot to ourselves. Maybe hitting the slacker lines was an advantage in this day and age of high-traffic backcountry??
Theresa smugly slapped on skins, and I began my bootpack. We ended up getting two laps, and found some nice fresh turns on both of them. It was also super nice to get about the inversion/cloud layer that has been clogging the valleys lately. I can't wait to get back out, but actually remember all my gear!
Anyway...heres some photos. We tried to get some action shots, but decided that we both need to work on our skills (both photography and skiing). Maybe more light could have helped.
Surface Hoar above the lake
Theresa was happy to be skinning.
I was still happy even while post-holing
Theresa demonstrating that it was good Powpow still
Me trying to get the shot.
And trying to shifty...