Last updated: December 28, 2017
New snow: 3 inches
Total settled snow depth: 4 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 51°F (December 26)
Low temperature: 2°F (December 21)
Ski Conditions and Weather: It was a mostly dry week in the Tuolumne Meadows area, with above-average temperatures. The dusting of new snow that the area received on Christmas Eve improved ski conditions around the meadows. There is presently a supportable base layer with just enough soft snow on top to allow for fun grip and glide ski touring on the road, meadows, and drainages. South aspects are mostly bare and north, west, and east aspects are a patchwork of snow and bare ground. The best snow for making turns is on north-facing slopes above 9,300 feet. The high alpine terrain has been ravaged by the wind and sun, making for pretty marginal ski conditions above the tree line.
Although the snowpack is shallow, the light this time of year and the solitude, make a trip to Tuolumne Meadows worth one’s while. The Tioga Road from the park boundary at Tioga Pass to Tenaya Lake is 95% snow covered and makes for fast travelling with skis.
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 avalanche hazard in the Tuolumne Meadows area is low. The alpine snowpack is a mixed bag of windboard, ice, and various stages of faceted snow. There may be pockets of wind slab on leeward slopes, but we have not observed signs of instability on our patrols.
Wildlife: Due to the warm winter we’ve been having, a bald eagle has been claiming its stake to the open waters of Tuolumne Meadows. Another fun observation this week was made by a local birder. She saw several pine grosbeaks of varying ages, among the crowns of the lodgepole pines near Lembert Dome.
Questions: The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. There is firewood and eight bunks that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no phone service in Tuolumne Meadows at this time. We can be contacted via email at Laura_Pilewski@nps.gov, but we may be delayed in responding if we are on patrol. Contact the wilderness reservation office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns. Come prepared, and please make good decisions while travelling in the wilderness this winter.
Laura and Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Winter Rangers