[pct-l] Weather watch now, Class of '17

ned at mountaineducation.org ned at mountaineducation.org
Fri Sep 16 11:42:38 CDT 2016

Thanks, Reinhold, for all your support and encouragement over the years!

I stretch the time frame to mid-November because most of the storms that hit
the Sierra early, September thru November, are usually less than a foot in
quantity and melt off within a day or so of the sun coming out. This is not
based on any statistics, but rather my own on-trail experience during those
months. However, you'll see below, that I have revised my recommended time
frames. [Dittli, would you concur?]

Let's look at the SoBo thru hike time window respective of powder snow

At the Pacific Northwest end...

Light Winter:  consider a mid-June start
Average Winter:  consider a July 4th start (based on the recommendations by
Heavy Winter:  consider an August 1st start

At the Sierra end...
(again, these dates are based on living in the Sierra for the past 30 years.
A statistician can refine this...)

Early Winter:  ski areas open on Thanksgiving
Average Winter:  ski areas open for Christmas
Late Winter:  ski areas make snow for Christmas and pray for snow in January

People need to realize that storms track three ways on the coast, 
- hit to the north, Portland and Seattle, and miss the Sierra
- hit both the north and south, tracking down the coast on its way east
- hit the south and miss the north.

Therefore, one end is usually hit harder than the other. So, it becomes a
gamble what you'll get when doing your planning months ahead of a hike!
Start dates SoBo have to be flexible and hikers have to be patient for safe
trail conditions. The longer you wait to start, the more consolidated will
be the snow and with wisdom, the safer you may be.

So, let's put together the 9 possibilities:
(Premise: 1 month for Washington, 1 month for Oregon, 1 month for NorCal,
and then they are in the Sierra at Donner)

1. PNW post-average winter to Sierra average winter start:
- July 4th to November 1st  (5 months of trail time)
- Meaning:  hikers start on steep, slippery, consolidated snow and go
through the Sierra under a moderate threat of light snow.

2. PNW post-average winter to Sierra late winter start:
- July 4th to mid-November (4.5 months)
- Meaning: hikers start on steep, slippery, consolidated snow and go through
the Sierra under a light-moderate threat of light snow.

3. PNW post-average winter to Sierra early winter start:
- July 4th to mid-October (3.5 months)
- Meaning: hikers start on steep, slippery, consolidated snow and go through
the Sierra under a moderate threat of light/heavy snow.

4. PNW post-light winter to Sierra late winter start:
- Mid-June to mid-November (5 months)
- Meaning: hikers will start on a thinner snowpack of steep, slippery snow
and go through the Sierra under a mild threat of light snow.

5 & 6

7. PNW post-heavy winter to Sierra early winter start:
- August 1st to mid-October (2.5 months)
- Meaning: hikers will start on steep, slippery consolidated snow and have a
moderate threat of snow in the northern Sierra and a pretty good chance of
deeper powder snow in the higher Sierra that may stop them in their tracks.

8 & 9

I'm not going to extrapolate all of them. You can see where I'm going. SoBo
hikers will have to do their best with the hiking season they get, being
aware of what can happen weather-wise in fall season Sierra.

Ned Tibbits, Director
Mountain Education, Inc.
ned at mountaineducation.org 

-----Original Message-----
From: Pct-L [mailto:pct-l-bounces at backcountry.net] On Behalf Of Reinhold
Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 7:25 PM
To: PCT <pct-l at backcountry.net>
Subject: [pct-l] Weather watch now, Class of '17

Listen to what Ned is saying gang,....Ned knows what he is talking about.

He is the expert when it comes to hiking in snow.

The only thing I would like to point out is that I always prefer and

recommend getting through the Sierra by the end of September.

The Sierra, because of its elevation, is a different kind of a beast.

It can snow in the Sierra at any time of the year, even in the middle

of summer...I have gotten snowed on in the Sierra in the middle of

the summer on more than one occasion.

However, after September, the chance of new snow in the Sierra

increases drastically, changes the whole equation, and you better be

prepared for serious snow hiking.

Scott Williamson, with 14 PCT thru-hikes (16 counting section hikes),

including 2 PCT yo-yo thru-hikes, and 3 prior PCT speed records, the

undeniable, unquestionable, indisputable "KING" of the PCT had to

bail out and abandon 2 other yo-yo attempts, in prior years, because

he got back  to the Sierra to late, after it already started snowing, on

his way back to the Mexican border.

Like I said, the equation changes dramatically ones it starts snowing

in the Sierra....that is why I prefer to get through the Sierra before


JMT Reinhold


  [pct-l] Weather watch now, Class of '17

*ned at mountaineducation.org*ned at
/Wed Sep 14 12:08:32 CDT 2016/

Class of '17!

I want you to pay attention to the weather this September-November because,
for the majority of you, these are the months in which you'll be ending your
thru hikes next year. Watch, now, to be ready, then.

Doesn't matter whether you are planning on going NoBo or SoBo, watch how the
weather comes in this fall and how the high country along the PCT
transitions to winter. What you see this year, you may experience next year.
(Of course, this is not always true, but be aware, nonetheless, to help make
your planning decisions).

The points are,
- NoBo: Get to Manning by mid-September and
- SoBo: Get through the Sierra by mid-November

to avoid cold, wet, and maybe deep powder snow keeping you from your dream
of completing a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The premise is this,
- Fall and winter weather bring cold, lots of damp, and maybe freezing rain
or powder snow. The human body does not do well in this environment without
help and that needs to be anticipated by having an awareness of it. If you
spend too much time while NoBo along the trail in the south and find
yourself way behind schedule, these conditions can and have stopped many a
thru hiker just shy of their goal after working towards it for months.

If you want a fun and successful thru hike, among many things, know what
you're up against and prepare for them, know your self and why you're there,
practice the skills required to overcome expected adversity and challenge
(personal/internal and environmental/external), and take lots of
progressively longer hikes, ending with one that is as exposed as the PCT
and long enough to require a resupply (3 weeks).

You will be hearing more advice from me as your start dates get nearer, as I
want all of you to have the fun and safe life-changing wilderness journeys
you hope for, but those come with planning grounded in reality! I will be
talking more about the "Realities of the Trail" over the next few months.



Ned Tibbits, Director

Mountain Education, Inc.

ned at mountaineducation.org
<http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/pct-l>  <mailto:ned at

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