Happy New Year!
After relentless snowfall over Christmas week, the clouds have departed, leaving behind plenty of bright sunshine and snow!
It appears that we have settled into a substantial high pressure system here in the park, with clear skies, cold temperatures, and relatively strong east winds. This pattern looks to be continuing through the weekend. The skiers, snowshoers, sledders, and snow lovers are have been taking advantage of the beautiful weather over the holiday weekend. Snow play, for those interested in sledding, is now officially open and has been a hit. If you are skiing, however, please follow the signs, and do not cross through the snow play area.
Rangers were able to make it up to Camp Muir earlier in the week as well. The conditions were highly variable, ranging from deep powder to glare ice, to breakable crust. The strong east winds have now blanketed much of the Paradise area with a substantial wind crust in many places. With that said, skiers and backcountry travelers should use caution. With high winds, and the soft snow available for transport, rangers noted wind slab activity on west facing slopes. There have been several, both natural and skier triggered, wind slab avalanches on west aspects over the past few days. The slab is ranging from 20-40cm in places, depending on the local aspect. And for all you avalanche aficionados out there, the slab is varying from 1F-P when looked at in an avalanche test pit. Rangers also found that when cutting blocks for a snow test, the blocks fractured when cut, before tests could be conducted. Take home message, use caution on west facing aspects, and have a shovel, beacon and probe.
Come on up to the park to kick off 2016, and the National Park Service's 100th anniversary and enjoy some sunshine and lots of snow! As always, if you plan to camp or climb please come prepared for winter conditions and get a permit from the Jackson Visitor Center on the weekends. Or self register at the Old Station before heading out.