Mike, Dave and Rick indulged my wish to poke into the Birch Creek side of the Lemhis to see first-hand how our early -season snowpack is developing.It’s a good first objective, being visible from the highway, still reachable by a 4×4 vehicle and offering a fairly rock-free descent in shallow snow conditions!
We were able to drive to the base of the up, which sits about 7600′ and found we could skin right from the rig in 3-4″ of new snow. It very quickly became apparent that some very strong N-NW winds had been the last to hit this region and we saw that evidence all the way up to our 9500′ high point.
It seems that this area is consistent with our greater regional early season snowpack; very recent and scant snow below 8000′ and accumulating snows above. Above 8000′ the snow depth ranged from 8-10″ to 24-30″, very much dependent on wind impact. Above 8000′ we found a 4-6″ layer of faceted snow at the bottom of the profile, metamorphosed from the earliest snows, overlain by soft to hard slabs of wind blown recent snows; soft in the lee of trees and terrain and hard where the snow was exposed to the full force of the wind. A fresh surface hoar layer was developing on the surfaces we traversed.
In so many words, it appears we are developing a classic Lemhi snowpack, thin…rotting at the bottom and overlain by variable slabs and layers! Nothing boring about it!
We skied next to trees and stayed on the rounded ridge to enjoy the softest, thickest snows and the low angle allowed mellow turns all the way to the bottom, with hardly a scratched ski (or board) among us!!