SNOW PACK

By on April 9, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Snow has been falling of late at temperatures just below freezing, laying down a fresh coat of hot pow. At the upper elevations the new snow heals hard surfaces and makes for great skiing but at mid elevations it creates wet, heavy conditions. As temperatures increase the snow melts, creating difficult, sticky skiing. Even though the warm fresh snow is not loosely flying through the air, it is still good skiing until it balls up.

Above-freezing temperatures have warmed the valley and quickly melted the snowpack below 7,000 feet. The rain/snow mix has loaded an unconsolidated snowpack and weakened bonds between snow grains. At lower elevations where the snowpack has not melted, wet slides have released to the ground. At mid and upper elevations, newly loaded slopes may have developed a heavy, surface slab that could easily catch skiers. The day’s warming temperatures will cause cornices to drop and potentially trigger these new slabs. It is not advisable to ski extreme terrain during the day’s warmest temperatures.

Enjoy the new hot pow, but be ready, because with the warm temperatures the mountains will shed the winter pack as it transforms into a condensed, spring snowpack. Once the new snow has melted into the existing snowpack, respect the spring skiing etiquette. Smooth surfaces are best skied when smooth. When trenches are made these runs will not be as desirable for the next visitor. After the hot pow is gone, maintain the smooth skiing so you can return the next day for more hero turns.


About Lisa Van Sciver

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