Snowpack 2019 and Details

Trail Tip Tuesday Blog Post – SNOWPACK and DETAILS – June 18, 2019.

Segs 1-5 PASSABLE (tiny snow remains)
Seg 6-10 not passable (lengthy & deep snow up high)
Seg 11 PASSABLE
Segs 12-13 not passable (snow up high still)
Seg 14 PASSABLE (no snow left)
Seg 15-17 not passable (lengthy and deep snow in places)
Segs 18-19 PASSABLE (swollen creek ford in Seg 19)
Segs 20-28 not passable (lengthy and deep snow; among last to melt)
Segs CW01-CW05 not passable (lengthy and deep snow; among last to melt)

Deep snow remains at higher elevations on The Colorado Trail. This taken June 14, 2019 above Silverton at the top of Molas Pass, CT Segment 25.

Deep snow remains at higher elevations on The Colorado Trail. This taken June 14, 2019 above Silverton at the top of Molas Pass, CT Segment 25.

“Passable” indicates whether ‘snow passable,’ to us passable means not overly arduous or hazardous, and limited navigation challenges.

Guesses (does not cover every segment)
Guessing Segs 6-9 passable ~ mid July
Guessing Segs 22-28 passable ~ late July
Guessing Collegiate West passable ~ late July

Snow-line is around 10,500 feet elevation. (Of course, it will be lower on north- and northeast-facing slopes that melt more slowly, and higher on south- and southwest-facing slopes that melt more quickly. And, “snow-line” is not anything like a line but much more like a rough guide of patches, drifts and variability.) With this 10,500-foot information along with elevation profiles and data such as appears in the CT Databook, someone planning a CT trip could guess how lengthy the snowy sections might still be. Using Segment 6, a rough snow-line of 10,500 feet, and the Databook, looking at the elevation profiles one could guess there might be 7 miles of snow straddling Georgia Pass, the first high-point in the segment, and maybe 2 more miles of snow draped across the second high-point. It would be a good, though rough guess, that there might still be 9 miles of snow travel in Segment 6.

Rotten snowpack is becoming the norm, having been transformed by warm and variable temperatures. The snow is no longer as supportive. Snowshoes don’t support you as well and post-holing is becoming more common.

Melting; great news it is melting and, several weeks from now, most of this year’s snowpack will be history.