New Snow: 2 inches
Settled Snow Depth: 114 inches
High temperature: 51°F (April 9)
Low temperature: 8°F (April 13)
Ski Conditions and Weather
This is our final post of the season. It has been a remarkable winter in this special part of Yosemite National Park. We appreciate all of the comments and thoughtful questions that we have received from our readers throughout this most memorable of Tuolumne Meadows winters. We especially appreciate the concern for our safety as the parade of atmospheric rivers continued to slam the Sierra Nevada all winter long.
The weather this week was dry with seasonal temperatures. The overnight lows were cold enough to ensure a good refreeze of the snow surface and continue the corn cycle. Above 10,000 feet on most aspects but south, one will still find a variety of winter conditions. Ski conditions are presently excellent for touring, and although there are plenty of good corn turns to be had as well, they still vary by aspect, elevation, and weather.
Accessing the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut
The Lee Vining approach to Yosemite remains a mountaineering experience. We recommend an ice axe and crampons in the kit as hard and steep snow will likely be encountered if not on the way in, then on the way out. Remember snow surface conditions are variable depending on time of day, wind, aspect, and elevation. What might be a moderate boot pack or ski traverse on softer snow may turn into a fearful slide for life scenario on hard snow at another time.
To elaborate, the Tioga Road grade has been replaced by steep, consequential, side hill traverses in places by the heavy snow, winds, and avalanches. There are countless alternative routes into Tuolumne Meadows, but they too require mountaineering skills. It is not just a “walk in the park” when snow still blankets the ground.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions
As temperatures increase this spring, there will be periods of instability and possible wet slides and/or glide avalanches. Depending on how suddenly this complex winter snowpack warms, there is certainly the possibility of large wet slides to occur, especially if any rain on snow events occur even into the summer months. Be prepared to seek higher ground and or have extra provisions if water crossings become impassable as many bridges that appear on maps may not exist. Additionally, many roads have been compromised this winter and entry/exit points may become impassable to vehicle travel so it will be good to pay attention to the forecast and have contingency plans. Be patient and give road crews plenty of space when they are working hard clearing the roads and trailheads for yours and their safety.
Somehow the bears have sensed the light of spring and have dug themselves out of their deep dark dens. One is prowling around Parson’s Lodge, no doubt waiting for the first interpretive program of the summer. Coyotes are now able to run about on the frozen snow. And the great horned owl has bid us farewell for the season.
The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. This primitive cabin is the campground reservation office in the summer and is located along the Tioga Road at the entrance to the campground. It is marked with a sign. There is firewood and 8 bunks that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For those visiting the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut from the east (only) permits are self-issued at the Ski Hut. For those entering from other areas, please see Yosemite’s website: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm (#3: Do I need a wilderness permit during winter?) or you may contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740. As of this writing, there is NO electricity or phone service in Tuolumne Meadows.
Come prepared, and please make good decisions while traveling in the wilderness!
Read through the following two pages before embarking on any day or overnight snow travel within this park:
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Meadows winter rangers