Update for March 1, 2016

March 01, 2016 Posted by: Robert and Laura Pilewski

New snow: 0 inches
Total settled snow depth: 45 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 55 degrees F (February 25)
Low temperature: 14 degrees F (February 27)

Ski Conditions and Weather

The ski conditions have become very spring like this week. The middle elevations, in particular, have set up for excellent touring and turning. The snow is supportable most of the day, frozen and fast in the early hours, and wet and soft as the day progresses. For those looking to make turns, there are excellent corn opportunities on all aspects below 9500 feet on continued warm and sunny days. In the alpine, above 10,000 feet, south aspects are the only ones that are corning up on sunny days. The other aspects are still primarily winter conditions with wind hardened carveable snow and some pockets of windblown powder. These so-called “spring” conditions are certainly more common in April and May than late February! These ski conditions will persist as long as the warm and dry weather conditions do…… 

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions

Avalanche on Lembert Dome

For the avalanche advisory for this area of the Sierra Nevada go to http://www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center.

The avalanche hazard is low along the Tioga Road corridor. There is a greater danger from rock fall in Lee Vining Canyon than from avalanches presently. We did observe a significant avalanche on Lembert Dome on a steep east aspect. This was a glide avalanche where the entire snowpack began to slowly give way to gravity and with the warm days causing free water to run over the smooth granite at the bottom of the snowpack. Eventually there is a catastrophic failure at the interface with the smooth granite and the entire snowpack slides downhill. Visitors should be cautious of the possibility of glide avalanches when travelling on or under slopes with a smooth ground cover, like the domes of Yosemite. Olmsted Point is an area of particular concern during these conditions.


This week a visitor reported hearing the unmistakable four hoots of the great horned owl while skiing by moonlight through Lyell Canyon. Today, we heard the Brown creeper’s mating call which seemed a bit early in the season. It seems like everyone has a case of spring fever. The winter rangers, however, wouldn’t mind at least one more dose of winter.


The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open! There is 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 phone service at the ski hut.

Happy Skiing!
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Winter Rangers


Last updated: March 1, 2016

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