Squaw First Snow, First Cornice

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Updated: Thursday, Oct 5, 2017 12:28 PM
Posted: Thursday, Sep 21, 2017 5:02 PM
Brian Sather*
Report Type:
Snow Conditions
Well I set out to do a trail run and a trail report, but quickly I was trudging through deeper and deeper snow so here is the first snow ob of the year. The drive up to around 5,500' was uneventful aside from dodging a few bow hunters, but right at the "trailhead" for Squaw Creek Trail the first touches of snow were appearing and it was 35 degrees F. Climbing the trail had me quickly in full white status, with snow still stuck on the trees and some nice quality powder on the ground. The snow hit a little earlier last year, but this storm packed more punch then our initial snow last season and may stick around a bit give how much I encountered as I got about 7,000'. It was still cold and snowing when I turned around and headed back.

I've heard reports of some good snow more north in the Blue Mountains too, and Milk Shakes snotel is already getting a head start on its 2+ year reign as the regional king. I wasn't seeing much register on the other snotels like Taylor Green so I was surprised to see 18+ inches up in Squaw. I also saw a cornice up on Squaw Butte, demonstrating some west winds and snow transport already. If this consolidates any and we get another dump I might break out some skis for Burger, but likely (hopefully) we'll get another melt and get some more biking and trail runs in during the magical month of October in NE Oregon.

Backcountry observations provided or vetted by trained avalanche professionals.
The Snow
New Snow
45 cm
Total Snow
45 cm
4° / S

Snow Depths
Location #1: Upper Squaw Basin — 45 cm (map)
The Weather
Overcast (> 7/8)
Snow - S-1 Very light snow
No air motion

Trailhead, still bare ground.

Difficult to see in the picture, but a cornice was forming on the ridge.
Up near the top of Squaw Basin, looking toward High Hat Butte.

A mouse succumbed during the storm.
Cattle enjoying a picnic in the day use area of Catherine Creek State Park.