Snow conditions update 1st January 2020

A very brief update on snow and trail conditions based on my hike to San Jacinto Peak from home in Idyllwild today. Information in the Report from 30th December 2019 is largely still applicable, except as described below. Snow depths measured today were not significantly changed from the previous Report, although drifting has been dramatic in places.

Strong NE winds yesterday resulted in heavy drifting above 8000′ elevation. I was dismayed to find that my tracks from Monday above Saddle Junction had been largely obliterated, so I had to break trail between Saddle Junction and San Jacinto Peak for the third time in six days.

Snow conditions above 8000′ were very poor, with relatively warm temperatures resulting in moist, heavy, clumping snow which made for grim snowshoeing. Unfortunately this is unlikely to improve over the next few days, with a marked warming trend into early next week.

There is now also good trail between the Tram and Wellman Divide. Note however that Tram hikers have put through various confusing and steep trails directly from Round/Tamarack valleys toward San Jacinto Peak.

No one ascended San Jacinto Peak from the west side today, and my track to Little Round Valley and on to upper Deer Springs Trail no longer exists.

Devil’s Slide Trail remains in excellent condition, with icy snow that is ideal for microspikes.

Ernie Maxwell Trail was also firm and largely snow-covered before dawn today. I did not use microspikes ascending, but they are useful at least for descending. Snow cover is 90% near Humber Park, decreasing to 60% near Tahquitz View Drive.

Weather At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, Wednesday 1st January 2020 at 1155 the air temperature was 37.1°F (3°C), with a windchill of 26.2°F (-4°C), 51% relative humidity, and a fresh due North wind sustained at 15 mph gusting to 19.7 mph.

For those readers interested in my brief end-of-2019 summary and thank you to donors message posted yesterday, it is available here.

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