Skiing Conditions and Weather: We're sad to say, this was the first week since December 3rd that there is no new snow to report. The weather this week was warm, dry, and for the most part, calm. The effects from last week's high winds are still apparent, and the warm temperatures have also had an effect on the snow surface on all aspects. The best skiing is during the morning and early afternoon before things get too soupy. As always, don't forget the scraper and wax! There may be a change in the weather this weekend with colder temperatures and a chance for precipitation. Snow cover in the area is still virtually 100% and visitors approaching from the east should expect to ski from above the 9,000 foot elevation in Lee Vining Canyon all the way to Tuolumne Meadows and beyond.
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.
The absence of new snow and the warm temperatures this week have stabilized the snowpack in most areas. Most slopes are wind effected and supportable above tree line, and in various stages of melt freeze below timberline. Wilderness skiers still need to be cautious of triggering wind slabs on steep slopes above tree line. Until the next significant snowfall the avalanche hazard is low in the Tuolumne Meadows area.
Wildlife: Although we commonly see live cut tree branches or bark littering the bases of trees, we rarely get definitive clues as to the culprit. This week, however, the winter rangers finally saw the "pigeon-toed" trail of the porcupine. Even the fine texture of quills were evident in the drag marks that passed over the soft, sheltered snow. The tracks waddled on to a sun exposed slope and melted out of sight.
Questions: The Tuolumne Meadows 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.
Cathedral Peak with Tuolumne Peak in background.