It’s finally December and while temperatures are supposed to be warm over the next few days, there’s precipitation in Tahoe’s forecast through Friday, and that’s a reason to celebrate!
The photos that accompany this piece were taken over the past week while traveling north out of Tahoe. The mission made stops in Bend and Willamette Pass, OR, as well as Whistler, Rogers Pass and Revelstoke, B.C., Canada. Following a storm track that brought fresh snow to all the areas mentioned, it was nice to get out of town for a quick blast of winter after a great Lake Tahoe surf day on November 22nd. Each of these classic ski centers are still waiting for winter to fully kick in, but as you can see from the shots, conditions are currently worthy, and more weather is slated to impact the Pacific Northwest and B.C. in the coming days.
As fun as it is to venture to the highest quality available snow one can, it’s always best to get the goods at home. Since the last State of the Backcountry report anywhere from 12-18+” of new snow has collected above 8k feet in select locales around the greater Tahoe area. While not as much precipitation has fallen on the south side of Tahoe (about half as much as North Shore), zones to the north, especially in and around the Donner Summit area have received the most snow. It goes without saying that it’s incredibly thin out there and there really are only a few spots holding reasonable panels of snow to shred. It felt undeniably great to greet the new month with a few creamy powder turns in the Mt. Rose area on Monday, however, the next 3-4 days hold the greatest interest for Tahoe backcountry snowsliders.
Precipitation will start to fall in the Tahoe Basin today and continue into Friday. The models and forecasts have been all over the place with these series of disturbances, especially in terms of snowline. Anywhere from 1-2′ of new snow is forecasted for above 8k feet, while some reports have called for up to 3′ feet to fall on the Sierra Crest. We’ll have to wait for the clearing on Saturday to see how the snow actually stacks up, but in the spirit of hoping for the best, I’m keeping my expectations low, and staying fully fired up that if anything, there should be a decent base in a host of spots around Tahoe by the weekend.
Regarding snow stability, it’s best to understand that where we all want to be skiing this time of year-high elevation access points around the lake on N aspects-there’s a questionable, shallow snowpack. The older snow from November has largely turned to facets and thus harbors the ability to foster weak layers once it becomes loaded with the forecasted new snow through the week. Coupled with hazards such as barely covered rocks and other partially buried obstacles, as amazing as it is that we’re about to get snow, it’s essential to think about how to approach these early season conditions in the most prudent manner possible. It’s also worth noting that the Sierra Avalanche Center will most likely start issuing daily advisories as these incoming storms impact our forecast area, so be sure to check out their postings as they become available. Be safe and get fired up! December is here and it’s about to start snowing in Tahoe!
If you’re around Tahoe City this Wednesday, December 3rd, at 7pm, I’ll be giving a slideshow based on an expedition to Greenland last spring with Ice Axe Expeditions. It’s a trip slated for return this April and there are still spots available. Check out the link here and I hope to see you there!
“State of the Backcountry” is sponsored by Alpenglow Sports. Established in 1979, Alpenglow Sports is Tahoe City’s original mountain shop. Specializing in Backcountry and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, backpacking, hiking, camping, and the mountain lifestyle apparel, Alpenglow is always psyched to offer premier user-based customer service.