Friday, May 14, 2010

RMNP Conditions Update - May 14th, 2010

Cancelled work due to weather meant a little ski time in RMNP today. The day started out beautifully but, as had been the pattern lately, the fog rolled in around 3pm.  I headed up to the Ptarmigan Fingers area to get a look-see at how its shaping up. En route I witnessed a large point release on Notchtop’s “Spiral Route” sweep pretty much the entire East Meadows.

There was hardly a slope in sight that didn’t have new debris on it. I dug a quick pit during which time I counted almost 20 avalanches. A small chunk of cornice broke off one of the Fingers and triggered an avalanche which then caused a small slab to cut loose (R1). It wasn’t impressive when it started but the debris pile and entrained snow amounted to a big avalanche that went pretty much all the way to the tarn below Notchtop.

It was insanely hot while I was skinning up but once I stopped to dig the pit the valley fog rolled in and the temps quickly dropped to below freezing. When I finished the pit, I was definitely not going to ski the Ptarmigans after what I’d seen in the area and in the pit, so I went down Tyndall Glacier instead. It was snowing fairly hard, near-zero visibility and the snow was still very wet, heavy, and deep. Aside from being unable to see because of thick fog and rain/snow-covered glasses, the ski down to Emerald Lake was uneventful.

The moral of the story is that the alpine is shedding heavily and probably will only continue to do so through the weekend and into next week with the high temps. Hopefully we’ll get freezes at night and have a chance at enjoying the snow for a few hours in the morning at least. The North Face of Longs was socked in for most of the day but looked totally covered top-to-bottom. There’s good coverage from trailheads to anywhere, no need to walk the skis at all. It’s possible to hike trails without flotation but you’d want it if you made your own way.

If you want more info, feel free to e-mail me at  Thanks for reading!  -- Andrew Councell

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