Powder snow becoming scarce
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Heading up for my afternoon ski around 2pm, it was obvious that Steamboat’s visitors have arrived as Heavenly Daze was crowded. Lift lines on the upper mountain have pretty much disappeared by then, so I went looking for soft snow in Shadows. Lots of places of great packed powder skiing, but I only found a few areas that had the one or two untracked turns. The snow in Lower Shadows warmed up nicely yesterday, and since it was cooler today with less sun, I opted for a cruiser down Moonlight to access Sundown.
The Sundown lifline was skiing very good, albeit it a bit stiff with our cool temperatures. I cut over to 3 O’Clock near the bottom to avoid the sparse snow just above Duster, and found soft snow first on the left side of the groomer track down 3 O’Clock and then the right side near the bottom.
My last run on the upper hill was Closet, which also had pockets of cut up powder as well as the odd hidden stash of untracked. I cut over to Hurricane and then down to Vagabond to ski some interesting snow in the trees over by Why Not and above BC Skiway. Lots of downed trees in there and we only have 41” mid mountain base, so the skiing was slow, careful and deliberate. Still, it was nice to ski some difficult-to-reach powder on the lower mountain.
After a bit of snow tonight, the storm forecast for Tuesday into Wednesday is uncertain as one model predicts substantial snow while another predicts far less. It seems we have had so many New Years Day powder days over the years I would lean toward the more optimistic forecast until more details emerge in subsequent model runs.
A bit more certain is that the pattern change forecast by the American model for several weeks now is likely to occur in about a weeks time, or perhaps just after next weekend. The European model has for the last two model runs agreed that another arctic outbreak is likely, similar to the one a few weeks ago, as the polar vortex over Hudson Bay moves westward.
More wind and more wind affected snow
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Temperatures rose through last night until they finally began to fall with frontal passage around 4am. We had a nice burst of snow from around 9am - 10am which dropped a quick 2”, and with that added to this mornings 3” report, the mountain had about 5” of snow from this storm.
The wind picked up during the day, forcing temporary lift closures for Storm Peak and Morningside. By the time I got up there for my afternoon of skiing, the wind had died down and the sun even made an appearance for my last couple of runs. The snow in the upper half of the Priest Creek area was very wind affected and more difficult skiing than the day before, but areas at lower elevation like parts of Lower Shadows and the Rolex trees did not see as much wind and skied very well. There are even pockets of deep untracked snow hiding about.
Good skiing on the lower mountain as well as it wasn’t as windy down there. Generally soft snow everywhere on the hill, with wind affected powder on the firm side. I took Lower Vagabond down for a ride up Thunderhead at the end of the day, and that groomer was skiing great. Even Heavenly Daze had soft carveable snow.
Far more sun than snow looks to be on tap for the remainder of the year, but the skiing is great right now!
Kinda unbelievable day!
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I didn’t press glass based on this morning’s 8” report since only 2” of that fell overnight. I had about 2” of snow on my deck this morning and it was snowing. Satellite loop showed an enhancement over our area, and I was optimistic Steamboat Magic would yield some good snow between the 5am report time and 9am. Well, on that first run, I measured THIRTEEN INCHES in the favored areas of Shadows. The snow was very light and fluffy, probably around 4%, which unfortunately meant you could feel the hard surface underneath.
But the snow was falling steadily at around 3/4”/hour for most of then time I was up there, and the runs kept getting better. Not only was the snow deeper, but it was skied-in a little bit which removed the former hard surface from the bottom of the turn. Shadows, Closet, Twilight and the trees around Rolex all skied great. Most of my skiing is usually a couple of hours in the afternoon, so I tired enough around 1:30pm to call it a day. But my last run was up Morningside to a short hike to the top of Mt. Werner to access the East Face.
At the top is a snow stake that read 63”, which is really a 57” base since the ruler starts at 6”! Probably close to 18” of snow near the top with some areas measuring 2 feet! Complete over-the-head immersion once the pitch steepened. Another short sidestep up to the Second Pitch which also hid some more over-the-head turns.
Still snowing lightly down here this afternoon, but I expect persistent snow on the hill through the night. We could be looking at a number around 2 feet in the morning report!
Good skiing becoming progressively better
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Well, another great afternoon of skiing! Friday afternoon was good as well, with about 6” of fresh snow in the favored areas of the hill, and about another 3” was added by this afternoon in the Priest Creek drainage. The upper half of Shadows skied soft and flowy, but the lower half had some crunchies underneath from the warm spell a few days ago. Skiing the northwest aspects minimized the crunchiness to some extent, but even the shaded areas of Lower Shadows was difficult skiing in the sparsely tracked snow.
The 3 O’Clock trees to the skier’s right of the trail was sparsely skied and in great condition. Be careful above Duster as there are still rocks sticking through in the southern aspects, and they are easily avoided by traversing left back to the open trail.
The Sundown lifline was tons of fun as well. Still sparsely skied, but soft and bouncy rhythmic turns were easy to execute in the forgiving snow. Same for Kuus’s Cruise underneath the old Priest Creek chair. It was snowing as the lifts closed down for the afternoon, so be sure to check the ski report in the morning for the likely powder day tomorrow.
A stellar day for skiing
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Today was seasonably warm and sunny, with warmer temperatures on the hill than in the valley due to our cold mornings created by temperature inversions. The snow is still great! Usual first run down Closets into Shadows had soft snow that was a bit set up. Same for Lower Shadows below Duster in the northwest aspects, but found the best skiing in aspects tilted more to the south as the sun warmed the snow nicely.
The Sundown liftline and Kuus Cruise underneath the old Priest Creek double chair skied well, but again, the best skiing was in the sun softened snow of 3 O’Clock. Up the Elkhead lift and to Ted’s Ridge, which I also found to be a bit stiff as it got colder at lower elevations. A quick ride up Thunderhead brought me to the top of Heavenly Daze overlooking the South Valley and the setting sun, and the right side of the trail was in remarkably good condition. The lower mountain has good skiing as well, though the snow was colder and harder than the warmer higher elevations.