Tahoe Backcountry Report: Deep, Funky, Fun Snow After 100″ Storm

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Fox down. image: snowbrains

Report from March 17th, 2020

We rolled back out into the Lake Tahoe backcountry today and we went to a ridgetop for the first time since the big snow started.



When we got near the ridge things got steep and we didn’t like what we saw (avalanche-wise) and we turned around and changed our objective.

The snow felt slabby and avalanchy and there was a nearby cornice collapse that had caused a small avalanche.

We went into some low angle trees and spun a few laps and had a great time.


Stunning tree. image: snowbrains

There was a decent amount of wind today and it was strong at times on the ridgeline.

Windspeeds on the ridge were 40-50mph at noon today.

The snow wasn’t as good as yesterday.

Miles splash. image: Aaron Fox

The east aspect we skied was very wind-pressed and punchy.

The north aspect we skied was soft, but the snow had gotten “funky” – a bit heavy, a bit slow, a bit weird.

It was still damn fun and we were out there with a great crew.

Fox splash. image: snowbrains

These photos do make it look better than it actually was.

We had a good time keeping it mellow today.

Let’s all learn up about the persistent weak layer that we have in Tahoe right now:

Prior to this storm weak sugary snow existed just below the snow surface on many near and below treeline NW-N-NE aspects. The storm has deposited 3 to 5+ feet of new snow on top of this old weak snow. The old weak snow may not be able to support this sudden large load of new snow resulting in the possibility of large deep slab avalanches. While they may be more difficult to trigger than the avalanche problems mentioned above,  deep slab avalanches would involve all of the accumulated new snow, plus the additional depth of wind drifted snow if occurring near treeline. Very large avalanches may occur in below treeline areas on slopes without a history frequent avalanches.

Becoming caught in a deep slab avalanche near or below treeline may not be survivable. If you hear a whumph or experience snowpack collapse, unstable snow associated with this problem is present in the immediate area and an avalanche would have just occurred if the slope were steeper. Practical ways to avoid this avalanche problem are aspect avoidance or conservative terrain selection. – Sierra Avalanche Center, 3/17/20

Yesterday’s report:

Wizard cap. image: snowbrains

Avalanche Forecast:

Avalanche rating. image: SAC, 3/17/20

Weather Forecast:

image: noaa, 3/17/20


You know it’s gonna be a good say when the road looks like this. image: snowbrains
Inappropriate behavior. image: snowbrains
Dogger! image: snowbrains
Fox up. image: snowbrains

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