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Cameron Pass Snow??

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby moff » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:44 am

Hello, I've got a hut trip planned for the end of December - does anyone know if there's any snow up in the Cameron Pass area yet (starting to get a little nervous).

Thanks.

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Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby madbuck » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:40 pm

Powderbuzz is your best source.
It also has links to the local Snotel reports for snow depth.

Which hut? I haven't been up there lately, but keep watching weekly for some decent snow. There's been about 7" holding steady, the dry winds don't help but it looks like it's been mostly below 40 degrees temp. You may not get great turns and powder (still a possibility), but there'll be something packed down for just tooling around on trails at least.

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Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby moff » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:06 pm

Great, thanks. We're headed to the Nokhu hut.

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Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby SilverLynx » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:16 pm

This is what it looked like on November 16 when I was up there. I don't think it has snowed since then.
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Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby taylorzs » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:31 pm

I just stayed at the Nokhu hut and did some touring two weekends ago. We actually found some good snow. Found some rocks too but the above treeline north/east facing aspects had some pretty nice snow and a decent base. You should find some snow up there...more so than anywhere else in Colorado anyway. Zach
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." Edward Abbey
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Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby Snowgirl » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:41 am

I was up there touring with Taylorzs on Saturday. Boilerplate conditions in what snow remains... which is about 32 cm mid-slope. If you really need snow it's there, but not exactly stellar.
Such things for example as the grasp of a child's hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of a friend or lover...sunlight on rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind--- what else is there? What else do we need?
--Edward Abbey

Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby taylorzs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:55 am

Yep, we had a fun day out, more because of the whole skinning and being in the wilderness thing than a good snow conditions thing. The snow conditions were boilerplate and riding was challenging to say the least.
One thing to keep in mind here though. By the end of December we will probably have seen a bit more snow, there is more in the forecast right now. Lots of faceting up there at the moment. Snow conditions were very stable for snowgirl and I because there was not enough of a load on the facets to be problematic, but that will be dramatically different when snow actually falls again up there. Here is the observation report I wrote for the CAIC after our tour up there two days ago:
https://avalanche.state.co.us/obs/obs_report.php?obs_id=14819 -worth noting anyway.
I am not discouraging you from touring up there or going on your hut trip, I would go regardless and just be conservative about decision making if snow falls between now and then. High avy danger days are often good learning days. It is just worth noting how bad avalanche conditions maybe up there in a few weeks after a couple more storms. Have fun!
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." Edward Abbey
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Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby Dave B » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:08 am

taylorzs wrote:https://avalanche.state.co.us/obs/obs_report.php?obs_id=14819 -worth noting anyway.


This is interesting. I was just north of Diamond Peaks a week ago and noted similar situation (small facet layer around crust, Q3 shear etc.). I'm surprised the layer has grown with such warm temperatures. The Joe Wright Snotel shows the lowest temp up there was 20.5 in the past seven days!

I'm still at the lower end of the learning curve but this seems like too small of a temperature gradient to drive facet formation but I'm apparently a bit off in that.

Going to be an "interesting" year.
"There is no cheating in climbing, only lying." - Semi-Rad

Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby taylorzs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:20 pm

Yeah Dave, I was surprised to see the dramatic growth of faceting in the area as well. So this is why I think it occured;

Remember kinetic metamorphism is driven by a relative temperature gradient within the snowpack, not by the absolute surface temperature. The key here is the shallowness of the snowpack. Couple key numbers here; snowpack was 32-33cm in depth (at our test pit), 20.5degF = -6.38degC, temperature gradient of > 1degC/10cm snow depth = kinetic metamorphism (faceting). Basal snow temp should be approximately 0degC which creates a temp gradient of -6.38 degrees/33cm depth. Divide both #s by 3 to get a good approximation of the temp to depth=facet ratio and you get 2.13degC temp gradient per 11cm snow depth. While 11cm is not quite ten it is close enough to say there is an approximate temperature gradient of 2 degC per 10cm of snow for a surface temp of -6.38C or 20.5 degF and a basal temp of 0degC or 32degF. There we go! I love science! So if my calculations are correct we have a good explanation of the reasons for faceting even at the balmy surface temps we have seen recently.
It is somewhat counterintuitive in the sense that we are used to seeing that type of surface temp in say March or April with a deep snowpack where the gradient is dramatically less (spread over greater depth) and drives equilibrium metamorphism (rounding) instead of kinetic metamorphism (faceting) at the same 20.5 degF surface temp and actually increases avalanche stability.
The key to understanding this is to keep in mind the shallow snow depth and the "relative" nature of temperature gradients.
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." Edward Abbey
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Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby Dave B » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:37 pm

Ah-ha, that's a good explanation. I wasn't really thinking about snow pack depth relative to temperature gradients, despite the fact that the distance over which temperature changes, literally, defines the gradient.

Interesting though, thanks for the answer!

I was also wondering if the snow pack surface cools well beyond ambient air temperatures in high-wind times/areas. It certainly seems latent heat loss from evaporation/sublimation could drive a colder snow surface and increase the gradient even further. This makes some sense given that the faceting seems to have occurred in just the past week under warmer temps than those since the storms that deposited the snow in the first place.

And yes, science is pretty damn awesome.
"There is no cheating in climbing, only lying." - Semi-Rad

Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby taylorzs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:03 pm

Dave B wrote:Ah-ha, that's a good explanation. I wasn't really thinking about snow pack depth relative to temperature gradients, despite the fact that the distance over which temperature changes, literally, defines the gradient.

Interesting though, thanks for the answer!

I was also wondering if the snow pack surface cools well beyond ambient air temperatures in high-wind times/areas. It certainly seems latent heat loss from evaporation/sublimation could drive a colder snow surface and increase the gradient even further. This makes some sense given that the faceting seems to have occurred in just the past week under warmer temps than those since the storms that deposited the snow in the first place.

And yes, science is pretty damn awesome.


Interesting question Dave, I would think potentially, yes, but in practice no. I would think that the wind's impact on the surface temp gradient would be fairly minimal here. The crystal morphology at the beginning of a kinetic based change is actually important in how quickly a crystal transitions from a ______ to a facet. This is literally based on the initial molecular shape of each snow crystal. For example a round takes a much greater time period to change morphology to a facet than a stellar dendrite, cap, column, etc does to change to a facet. This is somewhat complicated and if you read a bit, I think there is a chapter in the Avalanche Handbook by the Mountaineers that talks about this. It helps to be looking at diagrams that show where the hydrogen bonds between H2O molecules are in different snow crystal morphologies in order to be able to envision where the hydrogen bonds break and the corresponding morphological changes that result.
My interpretation of the end result would be that the wind would be physically breaking the hydrogen bonds in some places in such a way as to counter the hydrogen bonds that are breaking due to a temperature gradient increase from the wind affected temp change that would drive faceting. Simply put, wind generates slabs (typically comprised of rounds) not facets because the physical force of wind that generates a more rounded crystal structure exceeds the diffusion force of a surface temperature gradient influenced by wind that would drive the diffusion state that drives faceting.
Now in order to answer your question effectively I am going to introduce another concept; A temperature gradient is never spread evenly over the depth of the snowpack. Temperature gradients are concentrated at the basal and surface layers typically. The warmest temperatures are at the ground and the coldest at the surface typically. Basal faceting describes kinetic metamorphism at the ground. Diurnal recrytallization describes faceting that occurs on the surface (not to be confused with surface hoar formation, a totally different process). It then gets buried and becomes the weak layer below a storm slab. Buried crusts also tend to concentrate high temp gradients around them which is why you often see faceted layers near buried crusts.
Now as to why I think the process seems to have sped up over the last 2 weeks goes back to the first paragraph I just wrote. The time that a crystal takes to change from a _____crystal to a facet depends on the initial molecular structure right? To build on this concept a crystal (whatever its shape) takes time to become a full blown facet. There are slow gradual changes as the crystal moves toward becoming a facet that take a couple days to really go into effect on an individual crystal basis. There is an important macro result. As more crystals become facets the easier it is for other adjacent non facet cystals in adjacent layers to facet more quickly. This gets to a point where the faceting processes at a macro (visible, not molecular) basis is exponentiated which is what I think is the main driving factor behind the dramatic increase in visible kinetic metamorphism occuring over the last two weeks in the cameron pass area. This is challenging to explain in a concise, written manner so I apologize if I am not being completely clear. A good analogy for this would be the exponentiating effect caused by metabotropic pathways stimulated by ligands in biological organisms or maybe the difference between a graded electrical potential and an action potential in a biological organism's nervous system or the conducting system of its heart.
If this does not make complete sense PM me your phone number or I will send you mine. I could explain this a lot better in 15-20 minutes of conversation than if I took a couple hours to write more of a diatribe than I already have. It is cool stuff but a full, scientific answer to your question requires a decent bit more background and my ability to ask you questions to know what parts you understand and what you need more of an explanation on in order to get the point across. I do enjoy talking snow science though! Now i must return to studying for genetics and human physiology. If you ever have questions about snow pm me I will try to answer them or find the answer if I do not know it. Zach
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." Edward Abbey
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www.14ersnowboardproject.homestead.com
www.zachtaylorsnowboarding.com

Re: Cameron Pass Snow??

Postby AndYouSeeMe » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:35 pm

I know nothing about snow conditions on or around Cameron Pass. I came in here simply to say that I cannot believe Zach has enough energy to talk snow science AFTER 17 upper level Science credits this semester.

Dude, you are making me look lazy :lol:

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