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help a snow noob

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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help a snow noob

Postby peaksandpotatoes » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:52 pm

I want to snowshoe up some Tahoe peaks this weekend.

For the night that I want to camp, NWS says:
"Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 22. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible."

And for during the day, it says:
"Snow showers. High near 29. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible."

I don't have enough snow experience to be able tell if I'm gonna be sad this weekend or not. I have a good THREE season tent, a four season sleeping pad, and a 15 degree bag. Am I gonna be sorry I walked out there to spend the night or will it be okay?



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Re: help a snow noob

Postby cloudlesssky » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:09 pm

You're likely to be cold and sad. Depending on the rating standard used for the bag, many people won't be comfortable in a 15 degree bag at 22 degrees. I've read this is particularly true for women. I'd also caution that your results will vary a bunch. For example the forecast calls for snow so you'll likely be wet/damp as well as cold in subfreezing temps. Not a great combination. I'd suggest a hotel with day trips into the snow.
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby seanr » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:24 pm

This weekend/that forecast is not a good time to go out overnight nor even just for dayhikes, especially if inexperienced with snow and snowstorms. Check the broader forecast discussion and winter weather watch. Winds will likely make it dangerous for anyone (regardless of gear and experience) to be atop ridges and peaks (potentially 100 mph +). In addition to possibly getting wet and likely getting very cold, you may have little to no visibility (whiteout/blizzard/ground level clouds), have very strenuous travel, and be dealing with drifts measured in feet rather than inches. Even down lower, your tent may not hold up to heavy snow (potentially feet, not inches) and wind gusts (potentially 50 mph +).

You just missed a good window for relatively easy and safe snowshoe hikes, and may need to wait awhile for another good window. Keep an eye on this when you get a better weather window (if you haven't been already): http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/advisory#null

If you aren't thinking about it already, consider learning about avalanche safety and equipment since you seem to be thinking about peakbagging/traveling backcountry slopes in winter.
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Fri Mar 04, 2016 7:41 am

Given the weather forecast and the gear you listed, my forecast for your trip would be: Cold, miserable with periods of sadness.
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

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Re: help a snow noob

Postby peaksandpotatoes » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:46 am

Sigh.

okay, yes, that's what I figured. I had this plan in the books for a while... picked up the training, obsessively reading and rereading the relevant topics in Freedom of the Hills, and looking at NWS and Sierra Avalanche Center several times a day all week.

Guess that's why I posted here. Part of me thought I should let some more experienced people talk me down.

:-({|=
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby maverick » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:51 am

I don't have enough snow experience to be able tell if I'm gonna be sad this weekend or not. I have a good THREE season tent, a four season sleeping pad, and a 15 degree bag.


Do not even think about it this weekend, you would have a horrible weekend at best or become a SAR incident at the worst. :(
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby seanr » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:16 am

peaksandpotatoes wrote:I had this plan in the books for a while... picked up the training, obsessively reading and rereading the relevant topics in Freedom of the Hills, and looking at NWS and Sierra Avalanche Center several times a day all week.
:-({|=


You may have better luck in late March or in April. Here is a good weather link if you want more to follow: https://opensnow.com/dailysnow/tahoe

Many know the feeling you are expressing. I know I do, but over time I have become happy to just get out and do what is feasible given conditions. We are so fortunate to have so much variety within short distances here in CA; I always have multiple trip options/activity options in mind and go with conditions that I am in the mood for and that make sense in some way. My spring break could involve Sierra snowplay, desert hiking, coast range hiking/biking, far off Utah adventures, or all of the above.

As far as avalanche safety, I have enough snow experience to know that there is a lot more to know. You may be aware that many of those snow tests you see on http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org are done on/near peaks that get a lot of ski, board, and some foot/snowshoe travel. They can be good places to relatively safely gain experience without having to break much trail nor be isolated from others (especially on weekends). Of course, that doesn't guarantee safety.
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby TahoeJeff » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:18 am

It's going to be a mess up here this weekend.....
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby markskor » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:37 am

TahoeJeff wrote:It's going to be a mess up here this weekend.....

Same here. Rain, turning slushy, eventually piles of Sierra cement...yay!
Hopefully more than a foot expected...Should keep the plows busy.

With months of great corn conditions foreseen in the upcoming months ahead - best to stay home for now.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby peaksandpotatoes » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:05 pm

oh man. rain everywhere. I cannot find a good hill I want to climb that will not be covered in mud, heavy storms, strong wind, anywhere within an 8 hour drive of where I am. Cabin fever!! I have had it really bad since New Year's. I know you all know the pain I am feeling right now! ](*,)
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby balance » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:09 pm

Greetings peaksandpotatoes

I'm a little curious what you mean by, "picked up the training"?

Good for you for having the spirit to get outdoors and enjoy the winter. It's great that you're adventurous enough to try snow camping. Why not go with a group? Maybe you could post here to find more experienced people to snowshoe with?

Let's do the math: Snowshoe beginner: heavy snow forecast; "snowshoe up some Tahoe peaks." That equates to more than sad and miserable. Sounds like it could add up to tragedy. You do not want to be anywhere near a mountain that has even a remote chance for avalanche. Those moderate Tahoe area slopes with 30-45 degree inclination are "AVALANCHE CITY". You can find trailheads like Wolverton (which has tree blazes) or Badger Pass (hike along side the road) where you're not in terminal avalanche country.

Here's one thing to consider. It's not the weather that should stop you. I personally think it's a lot of fun to be outdoors during a snowstorm in a solid, well-anchored tent. In my opinion, snow is more user friendly than cold rain. You can rent a storm-worthy tent, and a shovel, and whatever else you might need. But you can't rent experience. Before I began solo winter camping, I went with people who had climbed Denali (and came back with all their toes). Believe me, you can find experienced people who will enjoy showing you the right way to do things. Then you'll be able to enjoy the beauty Mother Nature displays when she gets decked out in white.

Peace.
Last edited by balance on Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: help a snow noob

Postby Gazelle » Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:16 pm

I would just day hike some peaks. Just so you know started with 7 inches of rain friday and saturday then it changed to snow on saturday night and got 2 1/2 feet as of now monday 1 pm and snowing lightly. This is at Kingvale close to Donner Summit. I 80 was closed most of the night it was THAT bad! If you come this way we should do some peaks?! very good weekend to hang out with NO outdoor activities or driving!

Kristine
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein
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