Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snow Survey

 Yesterday I helped do a snow survey up in the mountains. The snow survey measures the amount of snow at three snow courses. It's been done since the 1940s so there's a nice, long dataset to see how the years compare.

The snow survey is done twice each year, at the end of February and the end of March. Last year I went up to the first site in February and did the whole course in March. In March we could drive a couple miles up the road, which made for a shorter course that we all appreciated.
 The forecast was for 90% chance of precipitation and windy. We hoped that it would snow enough to cover up the crusty snow on the road and we would have some fresh powder for the ski down.

Five of us headed up to the first site.

 We made it off the road, knowing we weren't far from the first course. The snow wasn't all that deep, so we had to negotiate around bushes.

 Here's our group (except for me). It's still early in the day so we're looking strong!

 Jennie is fairly new to skiing, but she did an awesome job.

 We finished the first site and set off for the next site just before noon. We were able to travel fairly quickly because there wasn't too much snow. We took turns breaking trail and trying to figure out where the trail was.
This is an avalanche chute that had a major avalanche in 2005. The young aspen are now a few feet tall. As you can see by the lack of snow at the top of the chute, we didn't have any avalanche concerns on this trip!

My fancy skis. Like the duct tape? The skins just wouldn't stay on without them, and skins were critical to add extra friction to go up hill and slow me down going down hill.

Here I am with the snow tube on the third snow course. We use the tube to measure the depth of the snow and the water content. The snow wasn't super deep at any of the sites, but we'll have to wait for the numbers to see what percentage of normal we are.

We left the uppermost site at 4 p.m., which meant that we finished our ski in the moonlight. Yep, moonlight. That 90% chance of snow gave us a few flakes, but nothing measurable, and the snow clouds blew right over us.

We were all whooped by the time we got back to the vehicles. I think that's the longest ski trip I've ever been on, and my body felt it in many places! Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable day and I'd do it again.


Ed said...

I am so completely jealous!

Sandy said...

What an adventure! =)

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