Weather: (January 2nd through January 9th)
High temp: 55°F (January 8th)
Low temp: -2°F (January 3rd)
New Snow: 4"
Total settled snow depth: 45" as of January 9th
Skiing Conditions and Weather: Ski conditions this week were shaped by windy and warm weather conditions. The thermometer hit 55°F and we had several days of high North East winds. Wind effected snow is now prevalent on most aspects above tree line. There is still soft snow below tree line, though the warm temperatures have confined the good skiing to the North aspects. The snow has settled out during this dry spell and there is still good opportunity for ski touring in the area. The fluctuating temperatures and changing snow conditions make ski wax and scraper necessary items for the backpack.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the latest avalanche advisory for this area go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and click on advisory. The ESAC site is updated several times a week and more often during weather events.
Triggering isolated wind slabs is still a possibility in the high alpine zone. Wilderness skiers need to use caution when traversing slopes above tree line. Persistent weak layers can still be found in the snowpack, but until they are loaded with new snow they do not pose a hazard.
Wildlife: This week we saw the usual winter residents: Brown Creepers, White Breasted Nuthatches and Clark's Nutcrackers. The ground critters took advantage of this warm spell by scattering pine cone scales all about in search for some warming calories before next week's plummeting temperatures.
Questions: The Tuolumne Ski Hut is open for the season. There is an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first served basis. You can call the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station at (209)372-0450. If you leave a message we will get back to you the first chance we get. Power and phones are frequently out of service. Contact the Wilderness Office at (209) 372-0740 with any questions or concerns if you are unable to reach the Ranger Station. Come prepared; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut.
Laura and Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers
Looking South from Tuolumne Peak January 5, 2013
Hoar frost on a Lodgepole pine January 6, 2013