Flagstaff, Arizona - Backcountry of The San Francisco Peaks and Kachina Peaks Wilderness
Format and Limitations Statement
Finding sufficient coverage for backcountry skiing/snowboarding will be very difficult. Avalanches are unlikely, but may be possible near and above treeline where wind slabs may have developed. It is important to note that our thin snowpack will be subject to zonal metamorphism, based on aspect, elevation and other environmental factors. Thin and cold snowpacks often become weak over time, and may fail during or after a big snowfall - something to think about if we get that big dump that we are all hoping for.
Currently, year to date snowfall is at 29" at 10,800', with a settled base depth of about 20". To contrast, last year on 1-23-17, year to date snowfall topped 200".
Although unlikely to create significant hazard, isolated wind slabs may exist on the highest slopes near ridgelines. On January 21st, strong mid-mountain winds were observed (30-60 mph from the NNW). Coverage may be poor due to wind stripping on windward slopes, with variable wind drifts on leeward features.
Also note that the most recent 11" storm (January 20/21) started with a layer of graupel
snow in many locations. Graupel weak layers commonly stabilize in about a day or two after a storm, depending on temperature.
Coverage is thin to non existent above treeline, except in wind loaded areas. There may be a weak wind crust on the surface, sastrugi features, and hollow dry snow beneath creating highly variable ski conditions.
With ~25" of snow at mid-mountain elevations, coverage is not sufficient for safe skiing/riding. Rocks and logs will be your primary hazard.