Update for January 7, 2015

January 07, 2015 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski
New snow: none 
Total settled snow depth: 10 inches as of January 7, 2015 (snow stake located at 8,600 feet) 
High temperature: 51 degrees F, January 5 
Low temperature: 5 degrees F, January 2 

Skiing Conditions and Weather: Okay, take a deep breath; smile. Look around. It's Tuolumne Meadows. How does the saying go? "Even a bad day of skiing…." So the sun and now the winds have ravaged the mountain snow. BUT, the low angle winter lighting on the newly formed waves of sastrugi is great for photography. And the peace and quiet of the new year makes touring in wilderness as lovely as ever. Skiing among the north facing low angle trees, at higher elevations is alright too. If you range above tree-line, however, expect everything;ice, wind crust, bullet-proof snow, a soft turn or rock. Below 8000' on southerly aspects, you might prefer to snowshoe. 

Moonrise with Lembert Dome and Mt. Dana on January 2, 2015
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 presently low. At the higher elevations travelers should be wary of wind slabs that are now overlying soft snow and a hard melt freeze crust. There is potential for human triggered avalanches where these isolated pockets of wind slabs exist. 

Not much has changed since the last post. Within the snowpack there are multiple persistent weak layers of new and old melt freeze crusts and wind slab sandwiched among facets that could pose a hazard in the future; if it ever snows… 

Porcupine tracks in snowWildlife: For the second season in a row, we have spotted the distinct trail left behind by a porcupine in the shadow of Lembert Dome. Also, new to us up here in winter was a very vocal flock of Pygmy Nuthatch. Incessantly chattering, they darted rapidly between branches of the Lodge pole pine in search for food. 

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 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 New Year! 
Laura and Rob Pilewski -Tuolumne Winter Rangers 

12 Comments Comments icon

  1. January 12, 2015 at 11:33

    The quickest access to Tioga Pass is via Lee Vining Canyon. At this time of year the gate at the bottom is closed. Presently you can walk or bike to 9,000' and then ski from there to the pass.As to the ski hut, it is first come, first serve. It can reach capacity over the holidays or spring break. However, many people have to bring a shelter to approach from the east or west anyway. On the rare occasion that the ten bunks would fill, there probably would be room on the floor. The rangers are available to answer questions up here, but may also be out on patrol or snow surveys. There are no guides up here and you must be prepared and self-reliant in this winter wilderness setting.

  2. January 10, 2015 at 06:40

    The ski hut sounds like a blast! Is it likely to be full or is there generally a couple empty beds?

  3. Raj
    January 09, 2015 at 12:33

    Hi, what is the best way to get to Tioga pass this time of the year? Are there ranger lead cross country ski trips/snow shoe hikes around the Tioga pass area?

  4. January 07, 2015 at 11:30

    My family and I would like us to visit the city, but would like to know if there is have snow at this time. May someone help me, please? Thank you,

  5. January 07, 2015 at 09:11

    Love reading your posts and seeing the pictures! Porcupine tracks are soo cute!!! Praying for SNOW!!!!

  6. January 07, 2015 at 07:45

    Hi - Nice to see you back and glad to get your updates. Hoping for snow too!

  7. January 07, 2015 at 07:44

    Hi - Nice to see you back and glad to get your updates. Hoping for snow too!

  8. Ann
    January 07, 2015 at 07:01

    Always enjoy your posts! Hope the weather brings more snow soon. One question: Are porcupines indigenous to Yosemite?

  9. Ann
    January 07, 2015 at 07:01

    Always enjoy your posts! Hope the weather brings more snow soon. One question: Are porcupines indigenous to Yosemite?

  10. January 07, 2015 at 06:00

    I thought Tioga pass is closed this time of year.

  11. January 07, 2015 at 05:32

    Hope you guys are enjoying your winter up there and getting to spend sometime at Tioga Pass!

  12. January 07, 2015 at 03:09

    great shot of lambert dome. hope your travels in Tuolumne this winter and spring are wonderful. keep posting your pics, especially if you travel to any of the backcountry lakes (youngs, cathedral, etc).

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Last updated: January 7, 2015

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