Total settled snow depth: 8 inches as of January 21, 2015 (snow stake located at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 52 degrees F, January 17, 2015
Low temperature: 7 degrees F, January 14, 2015
Skiing Conditions and Weather: Despite the never-ending dry spell, visitors are taking advantage of winter in Tuolumne Meadows. People are snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, biking (east of the park boundary) and even rock climbing! Many people are utilizing the trail and river corridors for ease of travel with fewer obstacles. Ski conditions are ever changing. Touring on low-moderate angle terrain and in meadows remains the best right now, with the snow becoming more supportable with even spring-like corn conditions in places. Skiing in the alpine zones remains extremely variable with wind affected bullet-proof snow and breakable wind-slab to faceted sugar snow among boulders. South-facing slopes below 9,000 feet are also mostly snow free.
The road corridor is the most user friendly place for skiing. Snow line to the east of Tioga Pass starts just above Ellery Lake Dam. Numerous visitors are bicycling to this point as Lee Vining Canyon has a locked gate at the bottom. There are a few small patches of dry pavement between Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadows. Otherwise, coverage and conditions are good for covering the miles. It is fast travel for skiers entering from the east park boundary at Tioga Pass to Tuolumne Meadows!
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 (ESAC) and click on advisory. The ESAC site is undergoing changes this season and is not regularly updated as in past seasons, but it still posts relevant observations.
The avalanche hazard in the Tuolumne Meadows area is currently low.
Wildlife: This week near Donahue Pass we caught a glimpse of the well camouflaged White-tailed Ptarmigan. For his or her sake, let's hope the slopes stay white this winter!
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 Touring! Laura and Rob Pilewski -Tuolumne Winter Rangers