New snow: 4 inches
Total settled snow depth: 9 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 50°F (February 17)
Low temperature: -14°F (February 20)
Ski Conditions and Weather
Well, we sure jinxed it on our last post when we said the wind storm had passed through. It had just gotten started. We won’t sugar coat it. Last week held some of the worst (but let’s hope not the last) skiing of the season…with the exception of skiing along the rivers and meadows. Winter returned with bitter cold temperatures and fierce winds. At least it left a dusting of powder in its wake so we could no longer see the ice, just feel it underneath. The snow surface at the high elevations is wind affected on all aspects. At mid elevations, ice cleats are advised for the trail corridors.
The skiing along Tioga Road and in Tuolumne Meadows is still quite good as there is a dusting of new snow on a hard and supportable surface underneath. East of Tioga Pass there is very little snow on Hwy 120.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions
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. Blowing snow in the forecast could produce wind slabs at the higher elevations over the next couple of days. “Slide for life conditions” will exist on many of the alpine slopes this week given the forecast. Ice axe and crampons are advised.
Near Tioga Pass this weekend we saw both bear and mountain lion tracks. The coyotes have also been very active. Separate flocks of dark-eyed juncos, red crossbills and pine siskins have also been braving these cold temperatures foraging in areas of sunny, bare ground.
The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. There is firewood and 8 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 regarding winter travel to Tuolumne Meadows via email, but we may be delayed in responding if we are on patrol. For permit information: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm. or you may contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740. Come prepared, and please make good decisions while traveling in the wilderness this winter!
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers