Public Observation #2023-935

January 3, 2023 7:44 PM
Observation Date:
December 31, 2022
Zone or Region:
Central Cascades
XC Skiing/Snowshoeing
Maiden Peak
Did you see shooting cracks? 
Did you experience collapsing or whumpfing? 
Below treeline under the PCT, the snow had been exposed to precipitation, and had typical pitting associated with rainfall (confirmed recent weather conditions with ODOT employee beforehand to adjust expectations for the day). Precip resulted in a stout (1F-like) zipper crust, over faceting storm snow.
Around Rosary Lakes the conditions changed to a bit more of a weaker zipper crust in areas (4F or fist-like), but out in the open the snow resembled weak storm snow. The beaten in XC ski track was incredibly supportive; some boot prints and animal prints (bobcat? Dog for sure) were visible with minimal penetration.
Trailbreaking uphill from the Middle Rosary Lake to Maiden Peak following the SW ridge was tedious: my snowshoes were breaking through the weak storm snow, resulting in a snowshoe penetration of 3”-6” on average with some of the deeper drifts above 7k’ in boulder fields being a couple feet deep. Wind effect was variable, but the uppermost layer suggested the winds were westerly: evidence with satsurugi, snow on trees, buildup around bases of trees, and direction the trees had been blown in. The last 300’-500’ was incredibly icy — I was happy to have my crampons on my snowshoes for the ascent/descent, but I could have likely used my ice axe or technical crampons if I had had them.
Prior snowshoe prints were 100% supportive on the way down—both with and without tails. The beaten track was 100% supportive after dark, resembling consolidated ice instead of softer snow; the snowpack off the beaten path retained its previously observed consistency.
Weather was BKN, leaning on mostly sunny, but became socked in as the day progressed and I ascended in elevation, up to 5.5k’ or so (it cleared up again near dusk). Snow was light and intermittent with sparse cloud cover at times: I could see star constellations fairly readily on the walk out and could barely make out the silhouette of Bachelor illuminated by the moonlight at the summit.