This is big news for backcountry skiers and riders. Sonora Pass is completely open and Tioga Pass is open to the pass from the East. Tioga Pass will be completely open by May 11th.
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9,624-foot Sonora Pass (first crossed in 1852) on California highway 108 crosses the Sierra Nevada in an impressive place. Impressive, because its highest point is right in the middle of fantastic ski terrain. The pass just opened and while that’s a good thing for skiers, it’s a bad sign for the snowpack.
Sonora pass generally doesn’t open until some point in May. In 2011 the pass didn’t open until June 7th. In fact, Sonora pass hasn’t opened this early in the past decade.
What caused this early opening? Low snow. Sonora Pass is located in the Central Sierra and this year, all of the Sierra Nevada mountain range saw around 50% of normal snowfall. There hasn’t been a significant snowfall on Sonora Pass since December. Good weather, low snow, and warm temperatures allowed plowing to begin much earlier than normal and allowed plowing to progress much faster than normal.
The end result was Sonora Pass opening yesterday, April 24th, which is the earliest the pass has been open in over a decade.
Yosemite’s 9,943-foot Tioga Pass gives access to some of the best ski/board terrain in California. Tioga Pass is already open to the pass from the East. Tioga Pas is expected to be opened completely by May 11th. Tioga didn’t open until June 18th in 2011 and hasn’t been open in early May in a long time.
If you’re a skier or snowboarder, it’s time to get down to Sonora Pass and get in some great spring skiing. When Tioga Pass opens in 2 weeks, it’s going to be game-time for many of California’s extreme skiers. There are some gnarly lines down there…