9,624-Foot Sonora Pass, CA is OPEN | Earliest Opening in a Decade | Tioga Pass is OPEN to Pass from the East


 

Tioga Pass being cleared by snow plows

Tioga Pass being cleared by snow plows

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.

* * *

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.

Great ski terrain immediately off Sonora Pass.  Very easy touring here.

Great ski terrain immediately off Sonora Pass. Very easy touring here.

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.

Sonora Pass a few springs ago

Sonora Pass a few springs ago

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.

Tioga pass cross section with Yosemite Valley

Tioga pass cross section with Yosemite Valley

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.

How Tioga Pass is supposed to look this time of year...

How Tioga Pass is supposed to look this time of year…

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…

Dana Plateau lines off Tioga Pass, CA

Dana Plateau lines off Tioga Pass, CA

Comment(s): 7

  1. BCed

    Tioga is gonna be good for a week, I hope. Then it’s just gonna get cooked.

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  2. Colin

    Yo Miles,
    “Tioga didn’t open until June 18th in 2011 and hasn’t been open in early May in a long time.”
    It opened on May 7 just last year, May 11 in 2007, and mid-May in 2008 and 2009. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm So that’s not a super accurate statement.

    Not that an opening this early is *normal* per se, but it isn’t unusual compared to the last 5-6 years. It’s been either feast (2010 and 2011) or famine.

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  3. Pingback: SnowBrains' Top 5 Articles of the Week: April 29 - May 3rd, 2013 | SnowBrains.com

    1. Miles Clark Post author

      Not just yet, we do have some friends down there now and we are hoping to get some conditions reports this week. thanks for checkin’ in.

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