Here's the report for November 14th... Things got quite unseasonably warm last week which made for some great late season rock climbing in the Eastern Sierra Nevada and especially Yosemite Valley. As for backcountry skiing, what little snow there was for backcountry is mostly sketchy now in the Sierra. For skiing, Shasta is where it's at with amazing November ski conditions. But Sierra skiers put this in perspective, it's only mid-November and we HAVE snow in the high country so this is a great start. The next month will be telling on how our early snow season will be shaping up. No need to despair!
Welcome to our new weekly climbing and backcountry skiing report for the state of California. Our goal is to provide a weekly single source of climbing and skiing conditions around the state. We hope you stay tuned!
Backcountry Skiing & Boarding
Backcountry skiing in the Eastern Sierra is not entirely possible. There were pockets of skiable snow a few weeks ago after the storm we had, but those pockets are now not skiable or just too sketchy to be fun or safe. Yes, you could hike for hours to find a pocket but really? Forget the backcountry for now, go climbing or ski the pockets of wind buff at Mammoth Mountain Resort if you just can't shake that bug.
The Tahoe backcountry does not have any measurable skiable snow in the backcountry now. Temps got warmer and what skiable snow was there is too pocketed or shallow now. As is normal in mid-November, it's just too early!
The folks up at Shasta Mountain Guides are reporting amazing November ski conditions. Above tree line there is 4-6 feet of dense snow! That's 400% of normal for this time of year. The skiing has been excellent above about 8200 ft and the recent warmer temps have produced smooth corn conditions all the way up to 11,000 ft. Skiers and boarders can expect to walk about 15 minutes from the Bunny Flat traihead till putting on skins. Going forward, it looks like the corn may come to an end with some storms hitting early this week, but that just means more snow. You want early season skiing? Shasta is it!
California Avalanche Advisories & Observations
Lee Vining & June Lake
Still no ice really, it too early. However, the upper slabs above Chouinard Falls in Lee Vining Canyon were beginning to form ice last week and we've seen a lot of water flowing over the ice climbs which bodes well for an early season. Temps are falling dramatically later this week so it might not be too much longer!
With the warm temps and melting snow, some were getting up into the Alpine zone. But cold night time temps made for very cold starts. It's not the ideal season for alpine rock climbs in the Sierra. With drastically falling temps coming this week and some new snow, the alpine just isn't recommended till we get a lot more snow and the winter mountaineering kicks off.
No alpine ice reports as of late, but with Tioga road open it might be worth checking out the North Peak couloir unless the road gets shut down again this week.
Full winter conditions. Now it's pretty much just skiing up on Mount Shasta.
Temps are still great. Camping was reported to be a bit less crowded last week except on the weekend of course. Temps will drop during mid week with some wind, but things look good for this coming weekend. This is prime Jtree season.
Last week it was almost too hot to climb in the sun at Owens' River Gorge, but with dropping temps this week it should be the place to climb. Last week you could have climbed almost anywhere on the crags of the Eastern Sierra.
Last week was the best November climbing in the Valley in years. It was almost too hot to climb on the sunny South facing climbs but still was great. This meant you would have been happy in both sun and shade in the Valley, a rarity this time of year. And climbing numbers were low, this author climbed the ultra classic Serenity to Sons last week and saw only one other party. El Cap was seeing quite a bit of action, including the first all free rope solo. Peter Whittaker rope soloed the Freerider.
Climbers were spotted on the sunnier climbs up at Tuolumne Meadows such as Stately Pleasure dome. But Tuolumne may be shut down again this week with the next storm passing through.