Update for December 15, 2015

December 15, 2015 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski

New snow: 16 inches
Total settled snow depth: 26 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 55 degrees F (December 8, 2015)
Low temperature: -6 degrees F (December 15, 2015)

Ski Conditions and Weather

Skiers breaking trail in Tuolumne Meadows on December 14, 2015This is our first post of the 2015-16 winter season.  We arrived to the Yosemite high country on December 11th after skiing up LeeVining Canyon from the locked gate at the bottom. The snow line stretched all the way to the gate at that time but will fluctuate with temperatures and snow conditions. Snow depth increases with altitude and above 9,000 feet there is 2-4 feet of snow on the ground and good coverage. The snow depth and ski conditions are greater now than they were at any time last winter. Cold temperatures this week will maintain the good ski conditions so get out there and enjoy some snow sliding!! 


Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions

For the avalanche advisory for this area of the Sierra Nevada go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center.

The snowpack in the central sierra resembles more of a continental climate than the maritime climate which is more typical of this region. Cold temperatures and low snow depths over the past month have caused depth hoar (weak, unconsolidated snow crystals found at or near the ground) to form, primarily on north and east aspects. "Whoomphing", or the collapsing of the snowpack on this layer, was observed on most aspects over the past 4 days.  On December 11th a natural avalanche was observed near timberline on an east aspect.  Weak faceted snow crystals have also developed in the middle of the snowpack and are sandwiched between crust layers on east and south aspects. There are enough red flags out there to avoid steep terrain, especially above treeline where wind slabs and new snow loads are overlying these weak layers. Extra caution should be practiced by backcountry travelers until these snow conditions become more stable.

Mt Dana on December 12th, 2015

Wildlife

The deep, soft snow is making traveling difficult for the forest critters. Douglas Squirrel and Pine Marten tracks were observed this week and the resident Bushy Tailed Wood Rat has been busy rearranging things in our wood shed during our absence. Now that we have broken trail through the deep snow the coyotes will come out and make use of the easier travel in their search for winter sustenance.

Questions

The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open! There is an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first served basis. There is power but no public phone service in Tuolumne Meadows this winter. We can be contacted via email, but we may be delayed in responding if we are on patrol. Contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns. Come prepared; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut.

Happy Skiing!
Laura and Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Winter Rangers


13 Comments Comments icon

  1. December 27, 2015 at 09:19
     

    Like everyone else, I'm thrilled to see updates on your blog. I especially enjoy your descriptions of wildlife sightings, tracks and behavior. The photos are inspiring too. I hope to get up there this winter.

     
  2. December 23, 2015 at 11:35
     

    Great to hear that you arrived in Tuolumne. Great to hear about the much better snow conditions this year, and amazing pictures as usual. We plan on visiting again this year. Thank you for your posts - we will be following your updates to help us plan our trips. Hope to see you there soon.

     
  3. December 22, 2015 at 07:49
     

    Happy Solstice to you both! I love your blog--what an awesome idea. I'll be following you from the green (yes, they are green again) foothills this winter. Cheers, Sylvia

     
  4. December 19, 2015 at 04:03
     

    Thanks for the great info on the Yosemite high country...greatest spot on earth!! You do know that you have the greatest "job" in the world?

     
  5. December 19, 2015 at 04:02
     

    Thanks for the great info on the Yosemite high country...greatest spot on earth!! You do know that you have the greatest "job" in the world?

     
  6. December 19, 2015 at 04:02
     

    Thanks for the great info on the Yosemite high country...greatest spot on earth!! You do know that you have the greatest "job" in the world?

     
  7. December 19, 2015 at 04:02
     

    Thanks for the great info on the Yosemite high country...greatest spot on earth!! You do know that you have the greatest "job" in the world?

     
  8. December 19, 2015 at 04:02
     

    Thanks for the great info on the Yosemite high country...greatest spot on earth!! You do know that you have the greatest "job" in the world?

     
  9. December 19, 2015 at 04:02
     

    Thanks for the great info on the Yosemite high country...greatest spot on earth!! You do know that you have the greatest "job" in the world?

     
  10. December 19, 2015 at 09:03
     

    Even though I am not a skier your updates make me feel as if I'm up there during winter. You build up my excitement for when I drive through the Tioga Pass when it opens in the late springs. I've enjoyed your observations and pictures through the years as they help me escape the hustle and bustle and tragedies we've endured down here. May you continue to enjoy paradise and continue to share it with us. Thank you Laura and Rob

     
  11. December 18, 2015 at 12:31
     

    Laura and Robb, we me this summer when you were packing up the crabtree ranger station and I was finishing the JMT. I'm going to enjoy reading these winter posts even more, now that I have faces to go with the author names! Stay safe and enjoy the snow! - Laura

     
  12. December 17, 2015 at 09:36
     

    Great to hear that all is well. Enjoy!!

     
  13. December 16, 2015 at 02:53
     

    It's nice to hear from you again. I greatly enjoy the updates so keep them coming.

     
 
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Last updated: December 15, 2015

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