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Avalanche Gulch Conditions
It's really looking and feeling like early summer on Mt Shasta lately. The past week has offered up some unseasonably warm temperatures. The snowpack is melting fast. Due to a very dry winter (January - March possibly being the driest on record) the skiing and riding season in the Mt Shasta area is nearly finished on all but the upper mountain, and snowmobilers are advised to wait until next winter. If you were thinking about climbing Avalanche Gulch in May or June, you might want to think about climbing it in the next couple of weeks instead. If this weather continues (climate guidance suggests we're in for a warm and dry spring) then Avalanche Gulch might be too rocky to climb in May, and certainly by June. It's looking like a repeat of last years' climbing season.
I toured up to 9,000' on the climber's right side of the Gulch today. It was warm and calm at that elevation, but climbers I spoke with found windy conditions above 13,000' and some turned around because they were getting blown around. It is no longer possible to ski on consistent snow from Bunny Flat. Below treeline is becoming very melted out with many patches of bare ground. Around 7,500' - 8,000' it's possible to find consistent snow, but it's also getting very thin. There's more snow on the climber's right side of Avalanche Gulch Proper. Anything steeper or facing south below 10,000' is rock. The snowpack resembles that of early summer. It's well-consolidated and quite firm. Avalanches are most likely a non-issue going forward. No signs of wet snow instability was apparent. Below treeline the snow was punchy, but most avalanche paths below treeline do not have enough snow to pose much of an avalanche risk. Rockfall is going to become a problem quickly on the upper mountain as more rock is exposed and warm temperatures persist.
Despite the warm ambient temperatures overnight the snowpack is getting a slight hard-set due to clear skies and radiative cooling. Around early afternoon was prime time for skiing corn today below 10,000'. Reports from skiers up higher were that the wind kept the snow firm. If you were hoping to ski Avalanche Gulch this spring, your window is rapidly closing. See the pictures below for a better idea of current conditions.
- Observation Location: Avalanche Gulch
- Elevation: 8500'
- Date: 20220325
- Time: 1230
- Observer: R. Lazzeri
- Sky Conditions: CLR
- Current Precipitation: NO
- Air Temperature: 50 °F
- Surface Penetration: Ski penetration: 1cm, boot penetration: 3-4 cm
- Total Snow Depth (HS): 0-45 inches
- 24-hour New Snow Depth (HN24): 0
- 24-hour New Snow Water Equivalent (HN24W): 0
- Wind Direction: W
- Wind Speed: Calm
Warm and sunny.