Wednesday, May 10, 2017

California Dreaming

With the semester over, I've been doing some California dreaming and debating whether or not to drive over to the Sierra for a few days of blue skies, California sun, and corn harvesting.

The snowpack there is, of course, outrageous.  Having achieved remarkable depths by April, the Sierra snowpack now shows clear signs of ripening and melt in mid elevations of the southern and northern Sierra.  I suspect things have corned up nicely, with only timing the key for good turns.  

However, there is a fly in the ointment for the future.  Medium-range forecasts show a transition beginning on Friday and upper-level troughing persisting along the Pacific coast for about 5-7 days thereafter.  

Perhaps this weekend things will still corn up during the afternoon, but next week the pattern is one that will eventually produce highly variable conditions with everything from coral reef to cream on crust.  Later in the period, perhaps they will even see a decent dump.

So, next week might be tough going for California sun and Sierra corn.  


  1. Why do you think the corn in the Sierra would be better than the Wasatch, if we assume the same weather. Is it simply elevation? Snow at 13,000 feet will be more corn than snow at 11,000 feet? There's a butt load of snow at Alta. Or is it simply go someplace different.

    1. I didn't say the corn is better. However, since you bring it up, California has the advantage of frequently having a well defined wet to dry season transition and I suspect the mean monthly snowfall in May is lower than in the central Wasatch (Squaw Valley base averages 8" vs. 27" at Alta, although the base at Squaw is a bit low). I suspect this means a more consistent corn cycle on average. Plus, there is the attraction of skiing new terrain and seeing new peaks and lines.


  2. In late June 2011, the last time the Sierra had a huge amount of snow, I did Mount Shasta. There was corn snow from the parking lot at Bunny Flat all the way to the summit. I used crampons and an ice ax, but there were a lot of skiers on the mountain.

  3. I'm thinking of heading that way for an extended Memorial Day weekend. In 2011 we were skiing Tioga Pass in early July and it was great. I imagine even with a little melting, conditions in two weeks will still be as good of late spring skiing as you can hope for.