johnmuir the geomorphologist writes:
... I've looked more in detail at Google Earth and flagged a few places that I think are good options. These places appear to have slopes that allow for initiation and stopping of an avalanche, and also appear to have material that is somewhat finer than only rock. The latter is helpful for the analyses that I hope to do. But I'm still quite uncertain of those aspects as well. What do you (and others) think, based on the attached .kmz file for Google Earth: are these places that you know have experienced avalanches, and are they indeed somewhat less coarsely textured (i.e. rocky) than other places?
Re. your prospective study sites, taken North to South:
1. Young Lakes
-It's a likely area for small avalanches, and one easily checked by the HST members who ski in that area, based out of the T. Meadows Ski Hut.
- From the photo, it looks like the base material there is perhaps more rocky than you'd like. It is comprised of granite bedrock, and large boulder field talus.
2. Desolation Lake Area
-Relatively easy access from North Lake TH- 5 miles to Piute Pass, then ~3.5 miles over a flatish basin to the lake, at 11,375 elev.
-Here are a few photos from our ski trip there, in June of 2017: [*still have to find a way to present them.]
3. Coyote Ridge
-This site would have the easiest access, but it's set to the east of the main divide, and only a couple points rise above 11,000.' Are there likely to be avalanches there? Maybe in the big snow years.
-You said that easy access is secondary at this point, but these 3 sites are all accessed by 3 of the most heinous, i.e., long and hot, eastside trails in the range.
7. Kearsarge Peak
-We don't know about the summit of Kearsarge Pk. per se, but just south. above the easy Onion Valley TH are some very similar slopes that may fit your needs. The south-facing slopes above Gilbert Lk. in the east, up to the slopes above Big Pothole Lk. are all 30-40 degree slopes of the sort of mixed substrate you're after. Photos:
Above are the west-facing slopes of Independence Peak, above Onion Valley TH. Likely avie paths, but too steep for your study?
This a view of K.Pass from the south east. The south-east facing slopes of Mt. Gould, above Big Pothole lake.
View from K Pass, looking west. To the right are the south and east facing slope of Mt. Gould and Rixford. I don't believe that avalanche activity is common on either side of K.Pass.
-As for Kearsarge Pk., looking at the Google Earth images, there are nice avie runs below the funnel-shaped gullies- also facing south. They exit right above the Onion Valley car park area. Might these work, or are they too steep?
-In the same area, but across the valley, is "University Col." I descended that way from Uni. Peak, where Anderson had me collecting rock samples from "upland surfaces." I'd say there's a very good chance of "dirty" avalanches pouring down that north-east facing slope pretty frequently.
8. Mount Bradley
I don't know it.
9. Near Shepherd Pass site
- Regarding that small peak seen in your Google Earth image, I've been up that with my boy, and it is just that- a very little peak. In the same area though, you would have all kinds of opportunity to find avalanches, e.g., pouring of the north and east slopes of Mount Tyndall. The east-facing slopes are mostly granite bedrock. Photos:
North-facing slopes of Mt Tyndall, and the peak to the west, from near Shepherd Pass.
Slopes on the east and south-east side of "Diamond Mesa," also from near S.Pass. Note the remnants of a slab avalanche, and a small point release slide just to the right of it.
East-facing slopes of Mount Tyndall, from S.Pass.
What are some other likely avalanche areas of the kind johnmuir here is after? John, Sekihiker, Wandering Daisy, and any other lurking geologists and winter climbers? John Dittli, Jimr, Gazelle, Andy, Karl, Longri, et al...?
I'll add as potential study sites the beautiful country around Magee and Convict Creeks, in the colorful metasedimentary belt; along with the fascinating geologic terrain up the Pine Creek drainage, which is also reputed to be very avalanche prone. The one winter trip we took up there, we saw a series of small slides up in the cirque under the east side of Bear Creek Spire. All came from really steep slopes, and contained little material. And finally, the slopes above Aspendell are famous for big avalanches, and would make an easy access study site, as the road to that community is plowed year-round. Some locals call the place instead: "Avalanche Dell." One big avie, rolled some of the houses off their foundations! (I think that was in the 1970's.).
I'm particularly interested in terrain less steep than 45 degrees, and in 'dirty' avalanches that scrape the landscape
John, does this mean you are looking for full-on, climax avalanches- the ones in the spring that extend all the way down to the substrate, or are you also interested in finding any big snowy avalanche? You said that you are in part studying the way avalanches influence landforms... do your average, or even large scale snow avalanches effect that kind of influence? Sometimes the first big snow storms deposit snows which are destined to warm up and slide along the substrate, but then these will subsequently be buried under all the rest of the winter snow; does that render those avalanches useless to your study?
I can dig out some more photos from around Humphreys Basin- the Desolation Lake area. I took a look at them, and the slopes around D. Lk. look to be to gentle for much avie activity. However, the slopes of Mount Humphreys, Mt. Emerson look good; and there is a lot of good-looking stuff all the way down from Piute Pass, to beyond Loch Leven on the south side of the North Fork Creek. Easy to get to as well. Best of luck with your studies Johnmuir Ian.