Taos Ski Valley Region

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Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:53 am

The first true Winter storm set in late yesterday evening. Temps were/are warm, only the highest elevations above about 10,500-11,000' received wet accumulating snow, 1-2 inches around treeline. The front associated with this low pressure system is moving east and northeast across the Front Range in Colorado and east of El Paso to the south, followed closely by a high pressure system that is wringing the remaining moisture from the atmosphere, this could produce more accumulating snow than last night's shot when temps cool at sunset this evening.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:30 am

Last night the snow line dropped below 9,000', up to about 4 inches accumulated near treeline. The storm is moving eastwards, followed by a large swath of high pressure which will likely dominate the weather in the southwest US for the next several days.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:31 am

Today's warm temps likely melted most of the remaining snow on the sunny aspects. These pics were taken yesterday morning, as the thaw began. From the Peace Chute, Williams Lake trail;

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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:58 pm

Light dusting yesterday, the 17th, in the highest elevations was accompanied by heavy winds before sunset.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:21 am

Snowfall totals so far 4-8 inches with deeper pockets near and above treeline. Temps dipped into the 20s and light southwesterly winds throughout the night have shifted to a northwesterly flow as the storm moves eastward, leaving a tail of precipitation along and east of the Front Range mountains in Colorado, and lingering moisture in the atmosphere in northern New Mexico.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:37 pm

At the Bavarian earlier today, about 8 inches, looks deeper in some higher regions, top of the Peace Chute and fingers, Wheeler and further up the Williams Lake basin.

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Elasticity in the new snow layer
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Wheeler west slopes
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:11 am

Decent accumulation last night, with moderately strong winds. Going on a friend's report, he says there's 4-10 inches between 9k and treeline, with wind drifts up to a couple feet deep showing signs of instabilities; cracking and propagation, settling and slab development.

Now we have a snowpack consisting of distinct storm layers, cornices are developing along ridgelines and leeward slopes, and wind-deposited snow is developing into slabs around terrain features and obstacles. There is a chance for decent accumulation today and tonight along with continuing wind, and intermittent showers through Tuesday which could create more layered structure within the growing snowpack.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:34 am

Light accumulation since yesterday morning. Temps are cold. Report from a friend who was on Bull of the Woods mountain yesterday; "Looking good up there, this last storm slab was kinda unstable on the somewhat faceted early snow, triggered a couple of small slides on cutbanks. 'Bout 12 inch slab, containing 3 distinct layers failing simultaneously within larger slab. Assuming there were 3 different snowfalls within storm."

Looks like cold temps will persist for the next week, then a dry and warmer spell is possible for anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks. We're planning on touring somewhere in the William's Lake basin or Long Canyon Wednesday, I'll report whatever observations and assessments we get.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby danshorb » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:27 pm

Thanks Jared.
The only two things you can truly depend on are Gravity and Greed. -Jack Palance
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:34 am

Another 2-3 inches of very dry and fluffy snow last night, as temps were cold and are slowly warming towards 20f this morning.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:19 pm

Skinned up the Williams Lake trail to the bottom of the Hidden Trees, then ascended to the top of the Pinky via the Pinky Trib trees and crossed over to the Ring Finger. Looked like two skiers had skied the Pinky yesterday. Bluebird, windy on the ridges, temps were in the teens all day. In most places we checked there are three distinct layers; yesterday's dry blower pow, Sunday-Monday's denser snow which is faceting on shady aspects, and last weeks dense snow is also faceting rapidly. The cold nights will likely accelerate the faceting process, today the amount of moisture that has evaporated from the snowpack was noticeable. On open sunny WSW-S aspects there was a smooth and slick crust layer beneath yesterday's fresh snow which created some challenging skinning conditions in a few isolated areas. Everywhere else the snow was soft, and the different layers were very noticeable. No red flag signs of instabilities like settling or propogation, yet there was an eerie feeling of unsettled intuition all around. In the Ring Finger it was still thin, lots of rocky areas and the middle of the chute was the best snow where crossloading had deposited the deepest amounts, up to thigh deep in places. We rode the line cautiously and slowish in the rocky sections, with a few turns each to let loose and surf the deeper sections. Rj described today's experience perfectly; if there was more snow it would have been too dangerous to ride (the chute), any less snow and it wouldn't be rideable. We both hit several rocks but no damage to our bases, the snow was just deep enough to enjoyably ride. To reemphasize our observations; I would expect, with a few clear and cold nights, the faceting will continue and we will soon have some sketchy depth hoar layers to be aware of.

https://vimeo.com/193919040

https://vimeo.com/193914018

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Bottom of the fingers, rocks are barely covered
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Sin Nombre and the Williams Lake basin lookin good
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Fresh Line
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Strapping in on a steep, rocky slope
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The first cuts showed stability, which can quickly change with added weight or continuing facet and layer development
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Rj trusting our confidence in the snowpack
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The middle of the chute, easy going yet satisfying pow turns. While scraping rocks it's important to keep light on the edges
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Puppy Loves Powder
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby Bob » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:44 pm

^Nice!
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:33 am

A bit more snow accumulated this morning. There was about an inch at the entrance to Hondo Canyon from Valdez and 2-3 in the higher elevations. Cold temps in the teens tonight and it's dry, there is a chance for some more snow.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:54 pm

Today on the lower east side of Kachina; 9cm fresh from last night and 1cm today at 3pm, dry light density snow. Temps were cold, in the single digits when the wind picked up. Snowpack depth measurements ranged from 20-48cm in non-drifted areas. There was scattered yet significant wind effect with this storm, especially on isolated exposed terrain features below 10,500' and above 11,500'. Below treeline, basic tests and ski cutting revealed apprehensive confidence leaning towards general stability on north and east aspects (in part due to the overall thin depth and abundance of still-exposed anchors), and degrading conditions on west facing terrain.

Notable observations and issues;

North aspects are holding cold and dry snow, last week and the previous weeks' storm snow layers have formed light consistency, fist hard slabs consisting of decomposing .2-1mm grains, sandwiched between compressed surface hoar layers. Consistent temps on shady north aspects are helping these soft layers bond together - above a 4-5cm basal layer of sugary .5-1.4mm depth hoar crystals.

Some ENE aspects just south of the ski area boundary (at approx. 10,500') were scoured down to the rocks and ground, with pencil hard windslabs deposited a little ways to the south where the terrain transitions to a more E aspect.

Open, sunnier west aspects have two buried sun crust layers - a thin 1f frozen layer beneath today's fresh snow, and the reactive and persistent weakness we found was within a 10cm layer of loose faceted grains beneath a 2cm pencil hard sun crust about 30cm down, which appeared to be insulating the lower layers of the snowpack; ground temps on this aspect were around 30f and the already faceted snow was wet despite the cold air and snow surface temps, and colder temps generally which we found on notherly aspects.

Earlier we'd talked with a skier who was riding out on the Williams Lake trail as we were beginning our ascent, he said he was travelling around the lower reaches of the Ring Finger and observed some cracks running from where he felt a collapse, and decided to leave that area and ski out. This supports the evidence we encountered that the snowpack on westerly aspects is decomposing and losing strength, due to temperature gradients.

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About 4 inches fresh
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Lots of exposed rocks
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Travelling across Kachina's rugged east side today was harrowing at times
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Apron at the bottom of the Ring Finger was affected by the wind
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Too thin to ride in the gully, so we kept our skins on and worked our way towards the pond
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Made some cuts on some steeper but still low angle slopes, no collapsing or cracks observed. Very noticeable density change beneath the fresh snow, which was deeper in the gully
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Across the pond, into the trees, very thin about 15" in the deeper pockets
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Lots of obstacles and exposed sharp things. I wouldn't recommend to anyone to ski this route till it's a couple feet deeper
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Riding out towards El Funko, a deeper wind drift on the slope above our line
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and the other way, exposed wind-scoured rocks
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Again, lots of exposed rocks. It'll take a lot more snow to fill everything in.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:04 pm

Today on an ESE aspect at approx. 10,500' (inbounds, non-skier compacted and away from snowmaking ops) I found a 2.5 cm layer of softer than fist hard suncrust developing, above 17-22cm of advanced stage 1-2mm irregular and column depth hoar crystals. The crust was brittle and would collapse into or shear off of the depth hoar easily. These findings appeared to be widespread throughout Kachina Peak's lower reaches. It is not an issue on it's own however with cold and dry nights this week (continuing the faceting process) and a new load this coming weekend it may become an issue.

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