ASI Newsletter Archive

Petr Leh
AMGA Certified
Ski Mountaineering Guide

Bela G. Vadasz
Technical Director
IFMGA Certified Guide

Member School

The Corn Harvest has begun!
Warm daytime temperatures, yet good freeze at night is producing super great spring skiing on south and east aspects here at Tahoe, on Mt. Shasta and the Eastern Sierra.

Legendary Sierra Spring Corn Snow
By: Bela G. Vadasz

Spring is skiing's second season for us here in California. The combination of an abundant snowpack, good high-density snow, sunny California weather and incredible terrain make this the mecca for world class spring backcountry skiing.

What's so good about corn snow?
We all know skiing is good as the snow falls, providing great powder skiing. Ironically, in California, the other time skiing is at its best is as snow is in the process of melting away. It's true!

As days get longer, the warm rays of the sun and daytime temperatures balance out with the freeze at nighttime temperatures. This equilibrium creates a 24 hour melt/freeze cycle that not only consolidates the snow further but through "sublimation", the moisture in the snowpack rises to the surface to form "corn" crystals on the surface.

When the next day's sun warms the surface just right, it produces an amazingly skiable surface. It's like nature's grooming, creating "hero snow", where we all ski our absolute best. It's another nirvanic skiing experience, just like skiing powder is.

Why California?
The maritime snow climate that contains more moisture to begin with often naturally consolidates even further during the winter months with sunshine and relatively warm temperatures between storms. Then as days get longer at our latitude and angle of sun gets higher and stronger, the melt portion of the cycle occurs. Then, the key is the higher elevations above tree line on Mt. Shasta and the High Sierra produce temperatures dropping below freezing to complete the daily melt/freeze cycle.

Never mind the ski areas closing
It's usually not until the ski areas close and valley temperatures even hit the 90's that the true "high mountains" above 10,500' really get good.

Do one more trip...
So after you stop skiing at the resorts, put on your shorts, go for a bike ride, do your spring thing but come back to at least 1 High Sierra or Mt. Shasta adventure and you'll see what an incredible experience it really is!

Spring 2-Day Tours:

Mt. Whitney    2 Day
Apr 5-6, 2008

Mt. Tom    2 Day
Apr 19-20, 2008

Mt. Dade    2 Day
May 3-4, 2008
May 10-11, 2008

Spring Multi-Day Tours:

Alpine Col Loop    3 Day
Apr 28 - May 1, 2008

The Evolution Loop    5 Day
Apr 21-25, 2008

Sierra High Route    6 Day
May 3-8, 2008

Spring Steep Camps:

Buttermilk Camp, Hwy 395    2 Day
Apr 26-27, 2008

Mt. Shasta Steeps    2 Day
May 3-4, 2008
May 10-11, 2008

Palisades Ski Extreme    4 Day
May 17-20, 2008

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