12 days ago I wrote:
Anyone want to give a best guess forecast for the snow surface conditions we will find from the Valley floor to Tuolumne Meadows on Thursday-Friday?
I'm guessing we'll cruise through patchy snow up the Snow Cr. Trail, and then, when we meet the road (@ ~8,400') around Olmstead Point, we will be breaking trail to a depth of 6-10", with never an inch of glide, cursing and suffering all the rest of the way to T. Meadows. I think we will barely make it to the hut (~22 miles) on the third day!
Just returned (Thursday 12/19), after 8 wonderful days on skis. We saw the change in the NOAA weather forecast, which moved the potential stormy weather forward to Thursday-Friday (12/11-12), so we raced off Wednesday late morning to get a jump on it. We just did sort of beat the storm, arriving at the Tuolumne Ski Hut in cold blowing snow late Friday. There were no ski tracks anywhere, but the trail-breaking was better than my dismal prediction above- just an average of 3-4" sinking in, but with zero glide, it was pretty hard work getting there. My fear of sinking really deep, pushing and carrying 6-10 inches of snow might have been a reality had we chosen to leave on our original entry day of Monday the 8th- too soon after the heavy snowfall that ended early Sunday the 7th.
Our first day in Tuolumne Meadows- Saturday- dawned absolutely clear, though it had snowed at least 5" overnight. It was 0º F that morning, and later on, the winter rangers told us that the next night- Sunday the 14th- got down to -8º F! We were in bunks over the woodstove by then, and very glad that we hadn't taken our other option- to wait out the brief storm, and head in on Saturday- which would have had us camping in the cold sink of Tenaya Lake on the coldest night yet!
Snowline began at 7,000', but on the way out, the level had lowered 500', and I was able to ski (barely!) down the hill from Snow Creek Hut, all the way to the top of the Snow Creek Trail switchbacks. It was a fun first ski trip, and I re-experienced the great challenge of regaining ones skis after falling into deep snow with a full pack on! I'll cobble together a Trip Report soon.