Location: Crested Butte Area
Date of Observation: 03/11/2018
Name: Ben Pritchett
Subject: two great days w/ the Choice Pass program, Snodgrass and Mt. Emmons
Weather: High thin clouds slowed warm up Saturday and Sunday, but it’s happening. Temps eeking above freezing at 11,000′, but crushing into the 40’s in the valley floors.
Snowpack: Definitely a line in the snow out there. Dry or wet.
At around due east or just north of east if the terrain is steeper, you can still find dry snow so long as the sun hasn’t kissed it. Shade is key right now for any hope of dry snow. Even lower-angled northerly terrain that doesn’t have a blocking ridge above is getting kissed and crusted. Snow surfaces on these shady aspects are gaining strength, though the weak layers below just don’t have enough overburden to change much at all. Surprisingly the depth hoar is still 4-Finger stiff and the grains are still crisp and sharp-edged. The weak layer structure is clearly not very different from a week ago, though the slabs are stiffening and clearly stubborn to human triggering. You still won’t find me center-punching 40+ degree near treeline right now, unfortunately. I’d like to see the weak layers get stronger / stiffer before really laying it out there.
On the other side of the line, snow surfaces on steep south aspects wetted Sunday up to near treeline. Below 11,000′ we found mud, dust, areas with 20-60cm of isothermal (wet all the way through) mush, and remnant dry snow – essentially very mixed bag and few continuous patches of dry weak layers remain between southeast and west below 11,000′. But above there, it’s still a dry snowpack even on the sunny side, though that dry snowpack is topped with a few cm of melt forms or crust depending on the time of day. Weak layers below still haven’t changed under the influence of water yet.
Only in very thin, and steep spots could I find water percolating more than 5-10cm from the surface, in most places the free water is still held in the top 5cm above 11,000′.