Originally, our plan for the day was to chase down the recent West Coast storm cycle at Kirkwood, California.
Yet, a closure of Highway 88 at Carson Spur and beyond due to extremely high avalanche danger quickly derailed our efforts.
As a result, we made a last-minute effort to find some snow at Heavenly, at South Lake Tahoe.
Heavenly was reporting 12″ of new snow the past 24 hours this morning.
As we started onto the hill the majority of terrain inside Heavenly’s largely gentle topography was already skied to a packed consistency.
In addition, it seemed as though there was only new snowfall above 7500 feet.
Below 7,500′, high temperatures and early morning rain showers created a slushy almost spring-like consistency of packed power.
The snow was sticky pretty much everywhere and it got stickier lower down on the mountain.
Up top, 8500′ and above, the snow was manageable, below that there was an increasing tugging sensation on the skis.
Throughout the day, early season conditions persisted with countless exposed features.
It felt like a slalom race through an obstacle course of stumps, rocks, and trees.
The few remaining patches of fresh snow were very heavy, wet, slow to ski and only a few inches deep.
Avalanche conditions were extremely dangerous due to the storm slab of about 8 inches that consistently slid under the weight of traversing skiers.
Although conditions were challenging, the many exposed features also turned the mountain into a different kind of playground.
With the new snow, landings are slightly more comfortable, yet scratched bases are almost a given due to the thin snowpack.
Therefore, consider rock skis and calculated maneuvers fit for mixed conditions.