The winter of 2022-2023 certainly got real in the Sierra Nevada. Unprecedented snow depths caked the region, and Caltrans crews are still working to clear the major highways that traverse the majestic mountain range as we approach the Memorial Holiday weekend.
The plowing began in late April and as of early last week, Caltrans has given no indication of when Tioga (Highway 120), the eastern entrance to Yosemite, or for that matter Sonora Pass (Highway 108) will be open. Sonora Pass begins (or ends, depending on your perspective) at Bridgeport in the Eastern Sierra while Tioga begins to the south in Lee Vining.
“The snow on the highway … is deep enough to stop a snow blower in its tracks,” Caltrans District 9 wrote on its Instagram account. “To clear the road as efficiently as possible, maintenance crews are utilizing a snowcat with plow attachment to drive on top of the snowpack and push it down to the pavement below. This method reduces the depth of the snow on the highway to a low enough point where our snow blowers can drive through and clear the road.”
As you can see in the video as carried by the Sacramento Bee, above, snow depths are still well over ten feet in some areas and even more in others. Tioga Pass, at nearly 10,000 feet in elevation, is an iconic backcountry skiing and riding location only accessible via snowmobile. It looks as though there’s still plenty of descents to be had in the Sierra backcountry.
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