Early season hiking - 2016 | High Sierra Topix  

Early season hiking - 2016

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.
User avatar

Early season hiking - 2016

Postby Hobbes » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:54 am

I didn't want to take over Andy's excellent TR from Evo basin in Feb (viewtopic.php?f=5&t=14048&p=104847#p104847), so I thought I'd start a new thread to speculate about late Spring 2016 conditions for all of us hikers just itching to get back out there.

alpinemike wrote:Getting up Lamarck will be interesting again.. as that was one hell of a long slog with a lot of gain. The necessity for crampons given that you have snowshoes is definitely going to be hard to judge. I would definitely plan on some slow days if there is still a good deal of snow. It may take close to a week .. to do that trip.


I think a good possible starting indicator would be when the road was cleared to N Lake. That would eliminate the long road walk from the closure, and also signal that major snow fields were melting and the remaining pack was consolidated ice/snow.

I'm shooting more for an early season "hike" (no snowshoes), with crampons/ice axe for the 3-4+- miles of snow fields over each pass, but otherwise clear (albeit wet/muddy) trail. Even so, I figure 1mph over the passes is a good estimate - right now, I've got 4-5 days penciled in.

Here's a photo of Dana meadows (Yosemite) from 6/5/2010, the year Mammoth got 650"+ inches of snow (http://www.mammothmountain.com/winter/m ... nd-weather):

Image

The park's east entrance had just opened that morning - we were staying in June lake and were one of the first cars allowed in. I distinctly remember the parking lot right @ the Tioga entrance (bathrooms & Gaylor lakes TH) had a solid wall of snow about 3-4' high. These types of conditions obviously warrant snow shoes or xc skis at 9.5-10k.

My guess is that Mammoth could get over 400" inches this year, so all things being equal (which of course they're not), the trail through Dana/Lyell could be clear by mid-June. That could be a fairly good correlation for the PCT section between Evo & Kearsarge, which would suggest more of a mid-June date if one were interested in primarily hiking, and the expectation of 3-4-5 miles of consolidated snow over each of the big passes.



User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby longri » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:09 pm

I think you mixed up the years. It was the 2010-11 season when Mammoth reported 650+ inches. Tioga opened on June 5th, 2010 and on June 18, 2011.

At the moment Mammoth is tracking approximately like an average year. The 30 year average is about 350 inches. So we'll see what happens. It's probably snowing there right now.

Anyway, I hope you're right and we get more than 400 inches. I'd rather ski late than hike early.
User avatar
longri
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 505
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby Hobbes » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:15 pm

longri wrote:It was the 2010-11 season when Mammoth reported 650+ inches.


Oops - Mammoth got 555" inches the winter of 2009-2010. Here's Dana meadows 6/25/2011:

Image
Last edited by Hobbes on Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby Hobbes » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:22 pm

Mammoth only got 260" inches during the winter of 2011-2012 - the start of the drought. Here's Forester on 6/7/2012:

Image
Last edited by Hobbes on Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby Hobbes » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:28 pm

During the winter of 2013-2014, Mammoth reported only 238" inches. Here's Forester on 6/9/2014:

Image
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby longri » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:16 pm

Image

Image
User avatar
longri
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 505
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby longri » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:18 pm

Shorts and a down jacket -- so California.
User avatar
longri
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 505
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby Hobbes » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:11 am

longri wrote:Shorts and a down jacket -- so California.


Here's Kearsarge last year on May 28 - it was a day hike (warm-up for Whitney MR), so I didn't even take a jacket. LOL

Image

Do you have a chart that goes back to 1968-69? Each of the big El Nino snow years correspond pretty well with famous El Nino surf years. The most notable (besides this year, which while only being an average snow year, has been perhaps the best surf year in the modern post 50s era) were 1969, 1983 & 1997.

I was too young for '69, but I remember '83 & '97 very well - caught a bunch of days like this (when I lived in LA & it was easy to drive up to SB) :

Image

Now that I'm in OC, I tend to go south. On this day, I bee-lined it to a fickle Baja point that was absolutely off its rocker. Had a late afternoon, then early morning session, then drove back home. Aye carumba!
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby longri » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:54 am

That's interesting about the big surf / big El Niño correlation.

I pulled the Mammoth snowfall information from this website. It matches pretty well with what is on the Mammoth website. I looked again and found a jpeg of a spreadsheet that included the 1968-69 season, which I've added to the bar graph.

It's worth noting that the line graph above, the one that shows Mammoth Pass, is in total inches of water content. Mammoth Mountain tracks total snowfall. The first guys (LAPWD) care about water; Mammoth cares about skiing. But it means that the two don't necessarily track all that well since snow density is both variable and changeable. I assume Mammoth Mountain tracks initial depth; they probably want to make it look as big as possible.

I also have a graph I pulled from the SF Chronicle last year that shows historical values for the "Sierra snowpack", whatever that means exactly. It seems to suggest that 1969 was a bigger year relatively for the Sierra than it was for Mammoth Mountain. But it's very likely that it is a measure of total water content.

I'm so happy it's raining and snowing right now, even though it canceled my plans for the weekend.



Image


Image
User avatar
longri
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 505
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby longri » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:59 am

Dana Meadows, early February 2016:

Image
User avatar
longri
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 505
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby Hobbes » Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:19 am

So much of California's history is due to our periodic drought & deluge pattern. After the rainy winter & flood of 1862 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1862), many of the ranchos greatly expanded their cattle operations, thinking that plentiful grassland ranges would continue to provide sufficient fodder for increased herds. But, just like today, people who financed long-term commitments got squeezed when conditions changed. That how a lot of ranchos ended up in Yankee hands after mortgage notes were called after the 1864 drought:

Following the drought in 1864, José Andrés Sepúlveda sold Rancho San Joaquin to Benjamin and Thomas Flint, Llewellyn Bixby and James Irvine, and it eventually became part of the Irvine Ranch. (1/6 of Orange county)


The LA, San Gabriel & Santa Ana rivers are nothing more than concrete culverts built to deal with periodic floods. This is what my part of OC looked like after the 1938 flood (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_flood_of_1938):

Image
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Early season hiking - 2016

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:01 pm

How fast the snow melts has as much to do with our early season backpacking as how much is laid down during the winter. Both are variable. So we will really not know how 2016 will stack up until the melt is done.

It is too bad more people do not embrace the early season. There is snow, but you can basically walk on it early in the day, without snowshoes. A little snow underfoot is better than swarms of mosquitoes in the face.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Winter Sports



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests