Green Lakes Valley Snow Survey

The snow survey is a unique community science opportunity to ski (or split-board, or snowshoe) in the City of Boulder Watershed’s Green Lakes Valley while helping contribute to a data set of yearly snowpack the Niwot Ridge LTER has been collecting for 25+ years.It’s also a great way to check out some of the science we do on Niwot Ridge,  spend some quality time in the mountains, and meet with friends, old and new.

The snow survey itinerary is modified a bit to accommodate COVID-19 concerns, so please read on if you are interested in joining the survey this year. Also note that if you want to attend just one, or both field days (Thursday or Friday or both) all options are welcomed and encouraged! Meals will be provided, as well as humble accommodation at the Tundra Lab (for those who wish). 

*Note there may be updates to this itinerary should CDC, University, or Boulder County COVID-19 guidance change.*


Wednesday May 11th: Virtual safety and planning meeting from 6pm to 7:15pm (*note this time is tentative and can change based on participants availability or requests). We will cover trip planning, how to snow survey, avalanche hazard and other safety concerns, and any other questions you may have.

Thursday May 12th: Meet at the Mountain Research Station at 6:30 a.m. Break into groups and take snow vehicles (snowcat/snowmobile/tracked UTV) to the Tundra Lab. From the Tundra Lab, we will ski/split board/snowshoe another two miles out to the Green Lakes Valley to begin snow surveying (this includes snow depth measuring, snow pit digging and—hopefully—some nice turns)!  Those who want to spend the night at the Tundra Lab may do so. Those who do not feel comfortable sleeping at the Tundra Lab (it is a large but shared space) can ski back to the MRS as a group.

Friday May 13th: Another early morning! Meet again at the MRS at 6:30am for those who need a ride up to the Tundra Lab. From Tundra Lab we will re-group to ski back into the Green Lakes Valley for another day of snow surveying. We will end by early afternoon Friday to give everyone a chance to pack up at the Tundra Lab before heading home. Friday early evening, we will pick a place (TBD) to enjoy some après snow survey social time for those who wish to join!


To get the most out of the snow survey, strong skiing, snowboarding, or other winter-time alpine travel experience, including avalanche experience, is recommended. However, if you have some knowledge or experience, are willing to do a little pre-survey prep and practice, and are excited to learn more, you are encouraged to join! If you have any questions about your experience, gear, or what to expect—please just send me an email and I’m happy to connect with you (

You must have an avalanche beacon/shovel/probe and know how to use them to participate in the snow survey (training provided for those who need it). We have a limited number of set ups to borrow on a first come first served basis, so if you need one let me know when you RSVP. These are also available to rent from several locations in Boulder, including REI or BCA.

Hope you can join us!

Friday, May 13, 2022 at 6:30am to 5:00pm

Wed eve online, Thurs and Fri in person at Mountain Research Station



Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
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