My turns in the backcountry this week were stellar, and although my partners and I skied somewhat cautiously after the new fresh feet we got, we personally did not witness any severe avalanche activity, but did set off running sloughs that left to the untrained eye could be interpreted as slides. After the showers on Monday and Tuesday, followed by Wednesdays dump, Thursday and Friday were just complete blower conditions. I took advantage by skiing multiple laps in the Fallen Leaf Lake area including being of the first ones in the classic Halls of the Gods Couloir.
Again, we did ski this relatively steep line cautiously, but nothing went on us at all. It was complete hero snow with what felt and skied like bomber conditions. After we skied out and were switching over for our next lap two other parties ended up descending the line. The last guy through sent some serious slough with him, but that was due to the amount of loose snow that had collected while the previous riders had descended. One of our ski partners had chosen to ski Mini Halls solo with his dog, and also found near perfect conditions. After two more laps in this zone we skinned up and out to Echo Peak, skied down the long ridge, and dropped a north-facing pitch on Flagpole Peak to a shuttle car we had left.
The following day I found myself in the Fallen Leaf zone with a different crew of friends and dogs, this time to ski the north-facing trees of Angora Peak. It was Saturday morning, and although it had barely been 16 hours since I had been skiing in the area the previous day, the snow had changed. It didn’t get too baked, but the blower factor was gone. The snow still skied well, and actually consolidated and rode very smooth and fast. The kicker was when we were packing up to bail after a great day, we ran into a group who had been involved in slide in the Mini Halls Couloir. Astonished as I had just been there the previous day, the report on the slide makes sense as to why and how this happened and is worth a read, http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/node/541.
Wrapping up the week, Monday proved to be one of my favorite Tahoe link-up days when you can ski powder in the morning and surf wind swell in the afternoon. We skied the north-facing trees of Tallac dropping in the Cathedral drainage first, and then went back out to the main pitch before I headed up to Incline beach for a few frosty waves. The surf wasn’t that great, but there were a few good rides in there, and even though I love this local link-up when the wind advisory lends itself to us, it makes for interesting guess work on what to ski in the following days.
The predominant wind was southwest shifting to the west, so expect many open areas to be wind hammered and/or scoured from Monday’s event in the coming days. However, with a few inches from today and maybe a few more that’s forecasted Tuesday night a rebuff may be in order. Good snow still exists so go get some, especially before the small but warm system comes in Friday with snowline expected to be hovering around 7000 feet.