Update for February 13, 2013

February 13, 2013 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski

Weather: February 6th  through February 13th
High temperature: 42°F (February 6th)
Low temperature:  -6°F (February 9th)
New Snow: 3 inches
Total settled snow depth: 42 inches as of February l1th

Skiing Conditions and Weather: The Tuolumne Meadows area received three inches of snow and three feet of wind this week. This, as well as the cold snap that we are in the midst of, has left the ski conditions extremely variable. Above tree line the snow surface is hard and wind effected, and below the tree line there is an array of crusts, as well as some soft wind-blown snow. These snow conditions are more conducive to good touring and not so good turning.

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 avalanche hazard is low on all aspects and elevations in the Tuolumne Meadows area until the next significant weather event.  There is a lot of hard snow out there which will make for a good sliding surface for any newly fallen snow.  The snow that fell this week coupled with the high winds were enough to form wind slabs.   Wilderness travelers should use caution on slopes steeper than 30 degrees, especially wind effected slopes above tree line.   Most slopes are wind effected and supportable above tree line, and in various stages of melt freeze below tree line. 

Wildlife: In Tuolumne Meadows, an ermine was spotted carrying some poor unidentifiable critter home for dinner this week. And, its cousin the pine marten was also seen on the prowl south of Skelton Lakes. Coyote and snowshoe hare tracks are all over the place. Most birds aside from the Clark's nutcracker are hiding from these high winds among the tree branches and therefore haven't been seen much.

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. 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.

Happy Skiing!
Laura and Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers

Wind-swept partially snowy ridge

Wind-swept ridge near White Mountain, February 6th, 2013.

6 Comments Comments icon

  1. February 21, 2013 at 03:44

    I will try and answer your questions here. Ann-"three feet of wind" is a figure of speech meaning that it only snowed a little, but the winds blew a lot. Janice-Most visitors use skis to access Tuolumne Meadows during the winter months. The closest starting point is Lee Vining. Visitors also arrive via Yosemite Valley and the Snow Creek Trail. Most folks ski, though some also use snow shoes. Craig-Thanks for the kind words. We go skiing in our "off time" and we already live and work in paradise, so we try not to leave the high country during winter. John-We have not seen any cat tracks during our winters in Tuolumne, but there are mountain lions throughout the Sierras during the summer months.

  2. February 17, 2013 at 07:24

    We hope you get some fresh snow soon. Thanks for the updates and the photos. See you in the spring.

  3. Ann
    February 16, 2013 at 09:32

    What is "three feet of wind"? Also, thank you for your updates. I appreciate everything that you are doing.

  4. February 13, 2013 at 11:32

    Hi. How does one get to Tuolumne meadows this time of year? Ski or snowshoe all the way from Crane Flat? Hike the John Muir trail from the valley? Can u get in from the east? I love the high country but have only hiked up from the valley or driven in from the west and east entrances on 120. I am going to Yosemite the first week of April and would like to get up around Tenaya Lake or Tuolumne Meadows if conditions permit. I have snowshoe and crampon experience but very limited snow camping experience. Thank you.

  5. February 13, 2013 at 06:25

    You two are doing great work. Keep the pics coming. What do you do for fun on your off time? Do you ever leave the high country during the winter? I wish I had your job.

  6. February 13, 2013 at 04:56

    Did you see the mountain lion photos from along near Wawona ( The park's Facebook page)? Have there ever been cat track siteings up where you are?

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Last updated: February 12, 2013

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