CT Conditions 2019 July 16

Tuesday Blog Post – CONDITIONS 2019 – July 16.

SNOWPACK
Backcountry guesswork continues below, thanks to user and volunteer reports including some with detail. “PASSABLE” indicates that, in our view, it has become it easily snow-passable, that enough has melted to no longer be overly arduous or hazardous, and without snow-related navigation challenges.

Segs 1-5 passable (no snow left)
Seg 6 passable
Seg 7 mostly-passable (~1 mile of steep-hillside snow Breck side; hikers succeeding)
Seg 8 mostly-passable (~3 miles of patchy snow fields on hills gentler than Seg 7; many hikers succeeding)
Seg 9 passable (limited and trampled snow in the shade of trees)
Segs 10-14 passable
Seg 15 passable (travelers succeeding with short sections of cornice snow)
Segs 16-19 passable
Segs 20-21 impassable (many steep, snow filled chutes)
Segs 22-23 impassable (challenging snow sections)
Seg 24 impassable (see below for avalanche and stream crossing conditions)
Segs 25-27 impassable (lengthy patches of snow; strong hikers have begun to succeed)
Seg 28 passable
Seg CW01 passable (snow mostly gone)
Seg CW02 impassable (north face of Lake Ann Pass very steep snow, but some folks succeeding)
Segs CW03-CW05 impassable (snow fields are shrinking but some are steep)

Approaching Cottonwood Pass in CW02, some snowpack remains. Photo thanks to Jim Collins.

Approaching Cottonwood Pass in CW02, some snowpack remains. Photo thanks to Jim Collins.

Some hikers have pushed through all sections deemed impassable, succeeding by expending more energy than normal, drawing on snow skills, and using snow-related equipment. They’re reporting that some snowpack is hard and slippery while some is soft and results in post-holing. Snow conditions will vary a lot. We’d want trekking poles, knee-high waterproof gaiters for their abrasion protection in the soft, crystalline snow and (maybe) micro-spikes for traction where the snow is hard, especially on steeper hills.

Guesses (does not cover every segment)
Guessing Segs 20-27 passable ~ late-July
Guessing Collegiate West passable ~ late-July

Snow-line is irregular, probably around 12,000 feet elevation, lower on north- and northeast-facing slopes that melt more slowly, especially in the shade of trees, and higher on south- and southwest-facing slopes that melt more quickly. Using 12,000 feet, you can use the CT Databook or Guidebook and guess how lengthy the snowy sections might still be.

CREEKS AND BRIDGES
Seg 8 Cataract Creek ford flow has diminished
Seg CW02 Texas Creek ford flow now diminished
Seg 19 Cochetopa Creek ford relatively easy now
https://coloradotrail.org/snowpack-2019-and-segment-19-creek-ford/
Seg 24 Elk Creek where it overtopped the trail was reportedly raging but we’re guessing flow has diminished (we lack recent reports)

AVALANCHE RELATED
Seg 7 avalanche debris zones cleared or improved (okay for foot travel; challenging for stock)
Seg 13 avalanche debris sections cleared (okay for all including stock)
Seg CW02 avalanche debris sections easy for hikers and bicyclists (maybe hard for stock)
Seg 24 serious avalanche debris, passable by careful hikers (not for stock animals)
https://coloradotrail.org/snowpack-2019-and-avalanche-news-feature/

CLOSURES
Copper Mountain area: two-mile, trail-season detour affecting parts of CT Segments 7 and 8
https://coloradotrail.org/ct-detour-at-copper-mountain/