Went for a thanksgiving day tour to see how Tuesdays 6 inches of lower density snow was behaving. Driving to the twin lakes trailhead is possible, although I chose to chain up my truck. Enough snow to snowmobile on the road without worrying of dry/barren spots as of thanksgiving day.
On the skin up, I noticed more of a “punchy” feeling with the snow, especially down low where old surface hoar had developed and my weight was collapsing the weaker few inches from the 11/19 storm snow. This did not produce cracking or collapsing, but gave me concern moving forward with the next storm (whenever that might be, do your snow dances!)
I noticed surface hoar development in sheltered locations. (Photo 1) Once up onto the ridge line, strong southern winds had created fresh wind slabs that were sensitive to my weight. (Photo 2). Solar aspects had experienced a slight crust from Wednesday, other locations were affected by the wind one way or another-either slabby or blown away (photo 3). Warmer temperatures were helping the snow consolidate and coverage had improved from Sunday’s tour. Still, many obstacles exist, lurking just below the snow surface and cautious travel continues to be the name of the game. Main concerns were wind loaded slopes (which I avoided) and early season low snow coverage. I did not dig a pit.
Snow depths remain very low across the west central mountains as does snow water equivalent (SWE) are below average (photo 4). Multiple rain events are to blame. See below for snow totals at local snotel sites with their equivalent SWE.
Secesh summit 6540’, 7 inches snow depth, 8.1 inches SWE
Brundage reservoir 6250’, 11 inches depth, 9.2 inches SWE
Big creek summit 6560’, 11 inches depth, 6.8 SWE
Squaw Flat (council Mtn) 6240’, 6 inches depth, 8.6 SWE
Deadwood summit 6860, 25 inches depth, 9.7 SWE
Granite mountain 7804’, 36 inches depth. SWE unavailable
A slow start to the season for sure. Stay patient, stay safe, and hold your pray for snow parties!