Wheeler Peak Area

Location Name: 
Wheeler Peak Area
Williams Lake Area
Date and time of observation: 
Sat, 03/07/2020 - 12:00

Observation made by: Professional Observer
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Traveled up in the Williams Lake area. A strong melt freeze crust was found on solar aspects below treeline. Recycled powder was observed in wind sheltered areas on shady aspects. The sun quickly impacted the snow surface by mid-morning, softening the surface below 11,500 feet. In traveling on western slopes, we found the snow surface to be highly variable. Previous strong winds had hardened the snow surface near and above treeline. In some areas a very hard supportable wind crust was found, which made for difficult travel at times. In other terrain a more breakable wind crust was observed. 

We observed a drastic difference in our snowpack structures when comparing more southerly, solar aspects to colder, drier northern facing slopes. 

In digging down on a southern aspect near treeline, we found the snowpack to be progressing towards an isothermic state. A supportable 10-15cm melt freeze crust sat on the snow surface. Signs of previous water percolation were apparent, as the remainder of the snowpack was wet. Wet basal facets were found.

We found the snowpack to be dry, shallow, and poorly structured on more northerly facing slopes. See Video. On these aspects, decomposing slabs consistently sat atop multiple facet layers. In one location, extended column tests conveyed that these weak layers are failing under moderate to hard force, with the ability to fully propagate across the column. 

The snowpack is quickly melting out below 10,000 feet.

No signs of wet-loose avalanche activity.

Photo 1: Breakable wind crust. In some areas very skinny, in others it was very supportable.

Photo 2: Snowpack moving towards isothermic on South aspect.

Photo 3: Shallow, dry snowpack on a Northwest slope. 

Photo 4: Strong sun quickly melted the snow surface at lower and mid elevations, creating corn.

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
50% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
More detailed information about the weather: 

A beautiful day with temperatures quickly rising into the mid 40's below 10,000 feet. Near treeline elevations saw temps in the mid 30's during the warmest part of the day. Terrain around 12,000 feet and higher remained below freezing in the upper 20's. Light to moderate winds out of the West, gusting into the upper 20's. Despite a presence of clouds all day, the sun made a strong impact throughout the day. No precip observed.