Observation: Summit

Location: Fresno

Route & General Observations

We toured up Fresno to 4000′ with the intention of checking out the snowpack in the upper elevations on Summit. It was the first clear day where sunglasses and sunscreen were used for the first time this season! Woowoo!! The snow was a mix bag of riding conditions, with plenty of soft snow if you knew where to look. We did some quick tests on our route and dug a pit at 3900′. The snowpack in our pit was more upside down. This will be something we continue to monitor. A few avalanches were observed likely from the winds over the weekend.

Weather & Snow Characteristics
Please provide details to help us determine the weather and snowpack during the time this observation took place.

Not a cloud in the sky, calm winds low, light winds from the northwest on the ridge, a trace of snow from the weekend, and temperatures in teens to 20's F.

Snow surface

Snow surface was soft down low with small surface hoar crystals growing on the surface to about 2400'. Closer to the lower ridge wind had scoured the surface to where it was firm. On the upper ridge sastrugi was everywhere as well as areas where bare ground was present. Above 3500' rime was on the surface.


The snowpack in upper elevations on Fresno is quite different than lower elevations. There was about 3.5' of snow in the pit we dug at 3900' on a southwest aspect. In general, the snowpack is upside down. There is soft snow above a wind slab with about 5" of meltforms on the bottom that were faceting. The Thanksgiving crust disappeared somewhere around 3200' and was not present in our pit. Once again, we got an ECTX, however when we did a propagation saw test (PST) our results were 40/100 end on the 4finger layer of faceting meltforms at the bottom. That result tells us that the this layer is not stable. So, the ECT test is telling us the snow is generally safe and the PST is telling us it is not. When we think big picture about what crystals we are seeing in the snowpack and what some tests are telling us, it seems that this layer is something we are going to keep an eye on.

We also did see new avalanches on Butch and Tri-Tip. Likely from the location and size they were from winds transporting snow. We also say yet another avalanche on the face of Fresno and an avalanche was reported on the Gardens (Japan Trees) over the weekend.

Photos & Video
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