What does 'normal caution' mean? Normal caution means using proper backcountry travel protocols every time you head out to ski, board or ride. Always be sure to conduct beacon checks, communicate with your group about the days travel plan and take stock of each group members stengths and potential weaknesses. Be able to identify areas of potentially unstable snow and safe and/or unsafe terrain choices. Expose only one member of your group to avalanche terrain at a time. Have a plan! Voice your opinions, don't take things personally, take a humble attitude toward Mother Nature. Because no matter how many times you've skied that slope, no matter how much knowledge and experience you have, no matter how local you are, an avalanche does not care.
Yesterday, a nice looking lenticular cloud and spindrift were visible from a distance on Mt Shasta, an all to familiar indicator of high winds aloft. The forecast area has not received any new snow over the week and temperatures have trended on the cooler side. The snowpack on Mt Shasta is robust and very wind affected near and above treeline. Firm, wind sculpted snow with scoured ridgelines and likely some very smooth and firm areas in the alpine will greet any mid and upper elevation skiers, riders or climbers. While the avalanche danger is low, a more notable concern for conditions as such are self arrest skills. Whenever we see firm and smooth conditions like we have at mid and upper mountain elevations, self arrest skills are mandatory should one slip and fall on steeper slopes. A helmet is always a good idea also to precent injury from falling rime ice and perhaps the occasional rock. As for the snowpack, temperatures will warm slightly today but still stay near or just below freezing. This will keep our snow conditions static for the most part until we get more precipitation. Shady, protected aspects are still holding small pockets of soft snow near and below treeline mixed with pockets of breakable crust. Above treeline, expect mostly wind packed powder, breakable crust, erosional features and perhaps an occasional softish spot!
Yesterday, firm snow and high winds kept most folks near and below treeline. A trip up Lower Avalanche Gulch, Horse Camp and Lower Giddy Giddy Gulch (aka The Promise Land) revealed much of the same as we've been experiencing over the week: A mixed bag. Since we like the glass half full, there were indeed some nice pockets of soft snow that skied well. However the majority of the snowpack on Mt Shasta is a little funky, hosting variable thickness breakable crust, sastrugi, scoured ridgelines and firm wind packed powder.
A good view of most of the south side of the mountain noted no signs of instability observed from the recent wind event. A snowpit dug just below treeline in the lower Giddy Giddy gulch area found an anomalous layer of what looked like rounding facets and/or perhaps an old layer of (rounding) buried surface hoar. We were able to get one extended column test to propagate across the column, however we were unable to reproduce the test at the location. Total snow depth at the snowpit location was 120 cm. See pit profile in our new observations section.
We encourage you to submit your backcountry findings through our NEW big, blue 'submit observations' button, located under the 'advisory' tab on our website.
LOCAL AREA ROAD, NORDIC, AND SNOWMOBILE PARK STATUS:
The Sand Flat cross country ski trails are in good shape still and ready for your cross country skis and snow shoes. These are backcountry routes marked with blue diamonds on trees. Trails are not groomed. Snow shoers, please blaze a parallel trail to cross country skiers staying out of the skin track. These trails can be accessed via the Everett Memorial Highway. Thank you, and enjoy!
The Mt. Shasta Nordic Center is CLOSED for the time being but will be opening soon! The trails are covered in snow and they are working on getting things going this month. http://www.mtshastanordic.org
The Pilgrim Creek & Deer Mountain Snowmobile Parks are open, however there is no snow at these locations currently. One must drive down the 19 road (Military Pass) for an unknown distance to get to consistent snow before unloading. Head to our "Education" tab on our website and find the snowmobile section for trail information, grooming status, and other sledder resources.
The Castle Lake Road is OPEN. The Everett Memorial Highway is OPEN. The Castle Lake and Everett Hwy are plowed year round to the trailheads. The roads are not always first priority, so your dawn patrol powder mission might be ceased if the plow has not made it up yet. Siskiyou County does a great job keeping the roads clear. Be respectful of the plow drivers if you encounter them. If you get to Bunny Flat before or during when the plow is there, please park on the uphill, LEFT side of the parking lot as you drive in. This is uphill and lookers right of the bathrooms. Thank You!
The Five Red Flags of Avalanche Danger any time of year include: 1) Recent/current avalanche activity 2) Whumphing sounds or shooting cracks 3) Recent/current heavy snowfall 4) Strong winds transporting snow 5) Rapid warming or rain on snow.
|0600 temperature:||13 deg. F.|
|Max. temperature in the last 24 hours:||27 deg. F.|
|Average wind direction during the last 24 hours:||Northerly|
|Average wind speed during the last 24 hours:||5 mph|
|Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours:||10-15 mph|
|New snowfall in the last 24 hours:||0 inches|
|Total snow depth:||27 inches|
Mostly sunny, chilly and dry weather will bring in the weekend. It's been a windy one on the mountain with our classic northerly winds cranking above treeline. Wind speeds should begin to diminish this afternoon. One can expect a mostly sunny day today and tomorrow. Sunday is our next look at precipitation. Next week, temperatures are forecasted to drop to as low as we've seen yet this year and paired up with a decent shot of moisture. It's likely we'll see low snow levels with that system. We'll keep you posted on that! Until then, dress warm and enjoy some early Winter sun!
In Mt Shasta City at 0500, we have a current temperature of 25 F. Skies are clear with calm wind.
On Mt Shasta (South Side) in the last 24 hours...
Old Ski Bowl - 7,600 feet, the current temperature is 19 degrees F. Snow on the ground totals 44 inches with no new snow and little settlement. Temperatures have ranged from 16 F to 30F.
Gray Butte - 8,000 feet, the current temperature is 20 degrees F. Temperatures have ranged from 17 F to 30 F. Winds have been light and variable until just before midnight when winds out of the N/NE picked up and have averaged 20-30 mph with gusts 40-50 mph.
Mt Eddy Range (West side of Interstate-5)...
Castle Lake - 5,600 feet, the current temperature is 21 degrees F. Temperatures have ranged from 20 F to 24 F. Snow on the ground totals 17 inches with no new snow and little settlement.
Mt Eddy - 6,500 feet, the current temperature is 27 degrees F. Temperatures have ranged from 19 F to 27 F. Snow on the ground measures 21 inches with no new snow and little settlement. Winds have been southerly in nature with an average of 2 mph, and a maximum gust of 13 mph, S/SW.
THIS SEASON PRECIPITATION for MT SHASTA CITY: Since October 1st (the wet season), we have received 16.47 inches of water, normal is 7.58 inches, putting us at 217% of normal. For the month of December we received 0.0 inches of water, normal is .22 inches, putting us at 0% of normal, and finally... for the year of 2016 we've received 49.37 inches of water, normal is 35.58 inches, putting us at 138% of normal.
Always check the weather before you attempt to climb Mt Shasta. Further, monitor the weather as you climb. Becoming caught on the mountain in any type of weather can compromise life and limb. Be prepared.