We usually stop writing Weekend Updates at the same time as we shift from 5-scale advisories to General Advisories. Earlier this week, we had moved to a General, and so I thought we would need to look for other creative outlets in advance of the weekend. However, new snow prompted us to return back to the 5-scale danger rating system. Hopefully this isn’t making you schizophrenic. Anytime we decide to change to a General Advisory this early in the season, there is a good chance that we will need to revert to ratings at some point before the season is over.
So you’re a brave soul and thinking about coming up to do some skiing on Saturday??? I’ll get the easy discussions out of the way first…The Sherburne is being closed today at the #5 crossover. This means you’ll be able to ski down from Hermit Lake more than half way. At this point, cross to the hiking trail, change into lightweight boots, and hike the rest of the way to Pinkham (about 1 mile). Getting out of the bowl is also a hike. No more skiing out through the brook or Little Headwall this year. I don’t like walking out any more than you do, but more than you I’ve probably thrashed through the brush hoping to find a way to slide out, so take my word here…it’s over.
For the upcoming weekend, this graphic from the National Weather Service will give you an impression of what to expect:
How’s that for spring weather??? In all seriousness, please don’t come here expecting spring weather. It will be like a cold winter day, most likely. If you come prepared for this and have a good attitude about it, then you can still have a good time. If you come dressed for the weather we are having right now (sunny, warm, and very little wind) you will be a good candidate for hypothermia. These are the weather forecasts that cause experienced visitors to find an alternative adventure for the day. Very experienced Tucks visitors have likely already learned that sometimes you’ve just got to come up and hope for the best. But like Kenny Rogers says, you’ve “got to know when to walk away, and know when to run.” I’d be pulling out my running shoes and staying low in the valleys this weekend if I had the choice.
OK, so maybe you’re an optimist. You might dig deeply into the weather forecast and see the potential for a powder day. I’ll give you this one. There is a chance that we will get a decent amount of snow out of the weather maker and perhaps it will make for more than “dust on crust.” In my experience here, true powder days are rare. We have one of the ingredients on hand already…a stable base. To this you need to add sufficient snow to get your edges up off the base (not very likely tomorrow) and hardly any wind to form wind slab (close, but the forecast doesn’t give me much hope). So what if we get all this? You will still have limited visibility and a strong likelihood of people dropping in from above you. As much as I love powder turns, I don’t love it so much that I’m OK with some other person triggering a slide above me. I also not OK with the idea that I might not see the family of sledders innocently in my runout when trigger a slide in poor visibility. And really, I just don’t like low visibility when I’m trying to skirt around avalanche hazard. The combination of low visibility and very low chance of a powder day does not make me want to try my luck.
Just so you don’t think I’m all doom and gloom, there is one silver lining to the weather forecast. The winds will be on the light side of what this mountain is capable of for the entire weekend. It’s not until Monday that they will begin to rip again like they did earlier this week. This means hiking might not be a bad option.
Yet another benefit of this weather forecast is that it will stall the development of the usual springtime hazards, falling ice, crevasses, and undermined snow. These are not going away, they’re just waiting for warm weather this season. If it does get warmer down at the ravine elevations, you should expect increasing potential for falling ice and crevasses opening. I’m hoping temperatures stay cold, so the ice hangs on through the weekend and the crevasses don’t open any more than they already had. (Currently, most are buried under a blanket of snow from earlier in the week.)
Normally this is where I would begin to tell you about the snow coverage on various runs. I’m going to hold this discussion for another day. I don’t want to end this update on a positive note. You might get the wrong idea and decide to come up despite the weather forecast. If this is what you’re thinking, I suggest you check the weather forecast.