The big snows of the winter of 2010-11 prevented snowcat access to Barcroft, even at the end of April. In order to check on conditions, and in particular to add water to the station battery system which was running all winter, WMRS staff John Smiley and Daniel Pritchett decided to hike in via the Moulas Mine road on the west slopes of Piute Mountain. We were prepared to spend the night at the station if the snow proved difficult. Click on photos to enlarge.
We left the truck at about 7am, parked near the Moulas Mine at about 9,600' elevation. Above: looking down on the "Valley View" climate monitoring station on the west slopes of Piute Mountain at an elevation of about 10,500' (3200m). 4-28-11
We carried snowshoes for the approximately 8 miles of snow-covered terrain, but thankfully did not need to use them. The snow was still hard enough to walk on with boots. 4-28-11
A long climb up to the Piute Bench, but solid, easy footing.
Approaching the top. It was steep in places. 4-28-11
After climbing 2 miles and about 2500 feet of elevation we topped out on the wide bench on the west side of Piute Mountain. There was a freezing wind as we trekked north toward Mt. Barcroft...or was it the south pole? 4-28-11
A truly beautiful route.
After gently descending two miles to the pass between Piute and Barcroft, we climbed up two more miles to the Barcroft plateau. The Barcroft well generator housing may be seen in the center of the photo. 4-28-11
Approaching Barcroft Field Station, which may be seen to the center right. 4-28-11
We arrived at the station at about 1:30 pm. As usual, the Pace lab yard was mostly free of snow. 4-28-11
The Pace lab was intact, including all the solar panels.
The UCSB astrophysics facility ws also intact, though snow blocked access to all doors except the white dome. 4-28-11
Giant drifts surrounded the west end of the Pace lab. 4-28-11
The east end of the Pace lab was drifted in, of course, as were the sheep pens.
The propane tanks are completely buried.
After adding about 8 gallons of water to the batteries (2/12/ cups per cell) and checking to see that all was in good condtion, we headed home at about 2 pm..
The wind gave a nice push on the way back. We arrived at the truck at about 7 pm. A 12-hour hike, covering about 12 miles and about 3500' of climbing. 4-28-11