Blackcap Basin snowpack

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gdurkee
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Re: Blackcap Basin snowpack

Post by gdurkee » Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:39 pm

A slight contribution for historical perspective. The Blackcap & most all of the Edison watershed surveys have been done by helicopter for decades. Since at least the mid 70s for most all of them. There were a couple of reasons for this. The avalanche danger was just too great for the surveyors to reach Evolution Valley (two survey courses) and up towards Silliman Pass (at least two). It was also getting harder to find people who could actually ski at that level of expertise such that they wouldn't get themselves killed.

It's absolutely true, of course, that it's wilderness and there are some serious restriction on using helicopters or other mechanical aids there. Most agencies allow exceptions for serious administrative need where a helicopter would provide the minimum tool needed to accomplish a goal. Water runoff and prediction is an incredibly vital need for all of California. That's how agriculture, cities, and dam operators determine how to apportion water for the year.

There have been many attempts over a very long time to automate the process. Automated sensors, for instance, seem to do OK when years are within normal but, in extreme years, aren't as accurate as actually doing transects by hand on the long-established snow courses. They're now testing the use of lidar from a fixed wing but they still have to do some ground transects to determine density.

That said, it's also been a major struggle to get Department of Water Resources and the snow survey to have to slightest respect for wilderness and NPS values. Years ago they put in these huge steel aerial markers on the theory that overflights could see the snow depth. There were dozens of them and they were never used. Mysteriously, they've all disappeared within Sequoia Kings (though there's a rumor part of one decorates an unknown garden somewhere). Also, it's a struggle getting the surveyors not do leave rat poison everywhere and to just, you know, do their damn dishes when the leave the cabins. The good news is, except for Evolution and Bench Lake, all the Sequoia Kings surveys (Hockett, Grant, Bishop Pass, Kearsarge Pass, Upper Kern, Tunnel & Big Whitney) are all done on skis.

I'll add that I agree with Mike on name calling. Bad form, what?








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oldranger
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Re: Blackcap Basin snowpack

Post by oldranger » Mon Apr 08, 2019 3:08 pm

My last year at Roaring river I was asked to take down the big snowsurvey stake at Scenic Meadow, which I did. Supposedly a helicopter was supposed to pick up the pieces later. Didn't take any of it home as a souvenir.
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maverick
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Re: Blackcap Basin snowpack

Post by maverick » Mon Apr 08, 2019 3:41 pm

I'm not quite so eloquent. I'd just tell him he's been on his high horse so long, he's got the saddle "deleted".
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Re: Blackcap Basin snowpack

Post by kpeter » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:53 pm

gdurkee wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:39 pm
That said, it's also been a major struggle to get Department of Water Resources and the snow survey to have to slightest respect for wilderness and NPS values. Years ago they put in these huge steel aerial markers on the theory that overflights could see the snow depth. There were dozens of them and they were never used. Mysteriously, they've all disappeared within Sequoia Kings (though there's a rumor part of one decorates an unknown garden somewhere).
Do you mean like this?
DSC02984-1.jpg
This is on the Kibbie Ridge trail and every time I pass it I have wondered about it. And I presume there were at least 173 of them....
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gdurkee
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Re: Blackcap Basin snowpack

Post by gdurkee » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:01 pm

kpeter: yep, that's them! It turns out that there's a pipe cutter that'll cut right through those things. Not that I've done it, but so I've heard. They were put up after the huge winter of 1969 when the skiers doing the survey couldn't get in for most months. As mentioned, never used plus, critically, you couldn't estimate snow density so there was no way of determining water content -- the truly critical statistic -- from only depth.

I guess there's still a few out there. I've skied down from Kibbie but don't remember seeing that one. Though, come to think of it, I think there's still one at Bond Pass survey.

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Re: Blackcap Basin snowpack

Post by LMBSGV » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:59 am

Back in the pre-bear canister days on a trip with my wife and son, I used the one at Piute Lake to counterbalance our food. So I guess they served some useful purpose even if they weren't ever used for their original intent.

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Re: Blackcap Basin snowpack

Post by oldranger » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:04 pm

No need for pipe cutter George! There are multiple sleeves and you just climb up, pull the top section out, step down a bit and pull the next section out, etc. somewhere I have a pic of me doing that. If I find it I'll post it. there is a funny story to go along with it.
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