Update for April 25, 2019 (last update for the season)

April 25, 2019 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski

New snow: Trace
Total settled snow depth: 60 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 60°F (April 24)
Low temperature: 15°F (April 21)

Ski Conditions and Weather

 

This is our last post of the winter 2018-2019 season and it is time for us to migrate south to our summer range in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. It has again been a great honor and pleasure serving the public as the Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers. No two seasons are the same in this range of light, snow, and wind. But, every one spent in Tuolumne Meadows is a special one.

Camping in the Lyell Fork of the Merced River Basin on April 18, 2019.
Camping in the Lyell Fork of the Merced River Basin on April 18, 2019.

Spring has certainly sprung in the Tuolumne Meadows area this week! We have had high temperatures of 60 degrees the past two days and the warming trend is forecast to extend into the weekend. Overnight lows were cold enough for a good freeze at the snow surface which has made for a delightful corn cycle on all aspects below 11,000 feet. The higher elevations still have lingering winter snow conditions, but that too is in transition to more spring-like conditions. Ski touring opportunities are limitless currently. We just returned from a patrol of the Yosemite High Route (a.k.a Border Tour) and the coverage and conditions were excellent the entire way.

 
Ski touring in the Lyell Fork of the Merced River basin on April 19, 2019. Happy skiers spring skiing!
Left: Ski touring in the Lyell Fork of the Merced River basin on April 19. Right: Spring skiing is the best!

Snow removal is continuing on the Tioga Road east of the park boundary and one should expect bare pavement on Hwy. 120 at least as high as Ellery Lake. Park crews have just started working from the west at Crane Flat. There is no estimated opening day for the Tioga Road. Be aware there may be temporary closures during the spring both for the worker’s safety and yours. Whenever the road is open, please stay well away from snow removal efforts and make sure that the operators of heavy equipment see you before trying to go around them.

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions

 

Avalanche debris covering the Tioga Road east of Tenaya Lake on April 24, 2019.
Avalanche debris covering the Tioga Road east of Tenaya Lake on April 24, 2019.

Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) for the avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra Nevada.

The avalanche hazard in the Tuolumne Meadows area is low so long as overnight temperatures remain at or below freezing for an extended period of time. The high temperatures and light overnight freeze of the past few days has resulted in some wet slides peeling off of smooth granite, primarily on south aspects. The slide in the photo is just east of Tenaya Lake and it crossed the Tioga Road leaving a large and very heavy debris pile on the road.  Even where such avalanches have occurred, there can still be quite a bit of “hang fire” (the remaining snow that lingers without many anchors). Spring travelers should be wary of what is above them at all times especially during the heat of the day when rock, snow and ice fall can be common.

 

Wildlife

The birds and other wildlife are flocking to the high country just like the skiers and other snow enthusiasts. Coyotes have been howling, great horned owls hooting, sooty grouse drumming, uphill skiers panting, and downhill skiers giggling.

But, while you’re out and about having fun, make sure the bears don’t have the last laugh. They’re quite hungry after a winter like this one. Tracks were seen just about everywhere and at all elevations this week. Remember, we’re just the visitor. It’s their home. Please store your food properly 24 hours a day.

General Information

The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. There is firewood and 8 bunks that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For those visiting the Tuolumne Ski Hut from the east (only) permits are self-issued at the Ski Hut.  For those entering from other areas, please see: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm or you may contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740.  There is no phone service in Tuolumne.  Come prepared, and please make good decisions while traveling in the wilderness!

Happy Trails and we hope to ski you next winter!
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers

Looking down the Lyell Fork of the Merced River on April 18, 2019.
Looking down the Lyell Fork of the Merced River on April 18, 2019.

35 Comments Comments icon

  1. Rupert
    May 07, 2019 at 03:15
     

    Rob and Laura. Thanks for keeping us informed of what goes on up in high country during winter closures. I had no idea how rough it is up there during the winter since I only see the place in the warm seasons. Thanks for the great public service. Have a nice summer!

     
  2. Todd
    May 04, 2019 at 07:30
     

    Thank you for another wonderful season of information. I'm looking forward to returning soon. Health and happiness to you both.

     
  3. Yosemite National Park
    May 03, 2019 at 03:21
     

    YJ, there is a Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, as well as a Lyell Fork Merced River. Both the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers receive water from Mount Lyell.

     
  4. YJ
    May 02, 2019 at 11:22
     

    The Lyell Fork drains to the Tuolumne River, not the Merced.

     
  5. Jacques
    May 02, 2019 at 01:59
     

    Slight correction to the multiple references to the Merced River where the Lyell Fork is mentioned above. The Lyell Fork joins the Tuolumne River just before Tioga Road near the Tuolumne campground, which eventually ends up at Hetch Hetchy. The Merced River and Tuolumne River basins are independent of one another, though they are both technically tributaries of the San Joaquin River.

     
  6. Steve
    April 30, 2019 at 05:07
     

    Thanks for another winter of great photos. Enjoy your summer.

     
  7. Peggy
    April 28, 2019 at 11:23
     

    Hello Laura and Rob. Thank you for being our eyes and ears in the high country, for posting the spectacular photos, and for sharing your wisdom and insider tips with all of us who can only dream of skiing in your tracks. I'm already looking forward to reading about next year's adventures and discoveries. Until then, may you enjoy good health and safe travels.

     
  8. Mary
    April 28, 2019 at 02:30
     

    Love your observations and stories. Keep up the great work and have a great Summer.

     
  9. Clark
    April 28, 2019 at 12:00
     

    Thank you so much to the Tuolumne Winter Rangers for your fascinating reports and beautiful pictures of the Yosemite high country in winter! I will miss your weekly updates. Best of luck as you migrate south to your summer range. Us less-skilled folk with more vertical migratory patterns will have to content ourselves with the reports from the Tioga Road clearance crews for a few weeks (or perhaps months?) until we can get access to the glory of the High Sierras in summer. Thanks again to Laura and Rob for all your amazing and dedicated efforts throughout the winter and thank you both for your service to our National Parks.

     
  10. Brad Ward
    April 28, 2019 at 01:52
     

    Before this year, I had no idea there even were winter rangers up in Tuolumne! These updates are fantastic! Looking forward to my first return trip to Tuolumne in a month or so, and a lot of summer fun up there! Thanks, and enjoy your summer range! - Yosemite Brad

     
  11. Adam
    April 26, 2019 at 09:30
     

    wish I could get up there now. it would be great to go over Donahue Pass without a crowd

     
  12. Terry
    April 26, 2019 at 04:24
     

    The Yosemite border tour sounds amazing and the photos are beautiful. Thanks for everything you do. You guys are the greatest. It's not just me - I skied to TM twice this spring with the Yosemite Winter Club, and both times met skiers who sang your praises. We hope to see you next year.

     
  13. Claire
    April 26, 2019 at 03:37
     

    Thank you so much for your wonderful reports and photographs. I speak for so many who thrill vicariously to your wonderful winter adventures in my favorite place in the world, and I look forward to hearing from you again next year.

     
  14. Louise
    April 26, 2019 at 12:02
     

    We really enjoy the increased number of excellent photos in your posts. Have a great summer!

     
  15. Clark
    April 26, 2019 at 11:28
     

    Thank you so much to the Tuolumne Winter Rangers for all the wonderful observations and beautiful pictures you have shared with us this winter! I will miss these weekly glimpses into the high country. For now, I'll have to content myself with following the progress of the Caltrans and NPS crews clearing snow from the Tioga Road until summer returns and I can once again experience the glory of the high Sierras in person. Such are the limitations of a vertical migration pattern. Best of luck to you both as you migrate south for the summer, and thank you so much for your dedicated service to our National Parks!

     
  16. George
    April 26, 2019 at 11:11
     

    Safe travels, God speed!!

     
  17. Lisa
    April 26, 2019 at 11:01
     

    Thank you for another season of awesome updates. I love getting a glimpse into the high country during winter, and will look forward to reading them again next year. Save travels to you!

     
  18. Carol
    April 26, 2019 at 09:34
     

    Thank you for providing us with a look into this wonderful season of snow! So enjoy reading your posts. Take care!

     
  19. Rebecca
    April 26, 2019 at 02:06
     

    Thanks for your wonderful reporting this winter, I really enjoy all your reports! Have a great rest of your year.

     
  20. Randy
    April 26, 2019 at 12:48
     

    Thank you Laura and Rob for all you do

     
  21. Randy
    April 26, 2019 at 12:48
     

    Thank you Laura and Rob for all you do

     
  22. Julian
    April 26, 2019 at 12:10
     

    I know it's not allowed, but, and here's the "big but", I would like to talk to the Tuolumne Meadows winter rangers about their gear. I want to go out in those conditions and locations. However, I don't want to rely on some Mad Men hype in the descriptions of products like tents, pants, jackets. I would like to hear what the rangers count on and use to stay relatively comfortable and dry while out keeping fans updated and informed about their beloved Yosemite.

     
  23. Gunnar Aanonsen
    April 25, 2019 at 11:56
     

    Thanks for your reports. I enjoy reading them through the winter, great pictures!

     
  24. Antoinette
    April 25, 2019 at 11:40
     

    Thank you for sharing the winter joy with us!

     
  25. Moosie
    April 25, 2019 at 10:17
     

    Thanks, again, Laura and Rob, for fantastic updates and all that you do!

     
  26. Moosie
    April 25, 2019 at 10:17
     

    Thanks, again, Laura and Rob, for fantastic updates and all that you do!

     
  27. Charles Bruckart Jr
    April 25, 2019 at 09:34
     

    Thank you both for your weekly reports! It is a great joy to see your wonderful photos of high country! I hope I have the privelage of meeting you both some day! May you have a wonderful Spring, Summer and Fall and look forward to your return to Yosemite next Winter!

     
  28. Janet
    April 25, 2019 at 09:20
     

    Thank you for your wonderful descriptions and photographs of this amazing area in Winter. I so enjoy reading your posts. I love the Yosemite High Country so much but will probably never experience it in winter, so reading about your adventures is so fun and just awe inspiring. All the best on your next assignment, I will look forward to reading about your adventures next winter. Thank you!

     
  29. Joe
    April 25, 2019 at 08:57
     

    I enjoy all your post over the winter, you both are doing a wonderful job. Enjoy your trip south.

     
  30. Joe
    April 25, 2019 at 08:56
     

    I enjoy all your post over the winter, you both are doing a wonderful job. Enjoy your trip south.

     
  31. Joe
    April 25, 2019 at 08:56
     

    I enjoy all your post over the winter, you both are doing a wonderful job. Enjoy your trip south.

     
  32. jenazz
    April 25, 2019 at 08:54
     

    I've enjoyed reading your updates. Thank you for all your hard work.

     
  33. John
    April 25, 2019 at 08:19
     

    Fare thee well - Thank you for all your beautiful words and images. I'll be there in a few weeks.

     
  34. Sean
    April 25, 2019 at 05:51
     

    Your posts from this past winter have truly been inspirational. Thank you for your hard work(?) and best of luck with your spring endeavors.

     
  35. Chris
    April 25, 2019 at 05:39
     

    Thank you both for the delightful updates and pictures. Have a great summer. Read you next winter!

     
 
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Last updated: April 25, 2019

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