Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Steamboat ski area reported 3” mid / 1” top Tuesday morning, and the report for this Wednesday morning was 4” mid / 8” top, with almost all of the reported snow today occurring during the day yesterday.
I’d like to point out an inconsistency in the morning report; the 5am report is apparently composed of a measurement around 4:30 am at mid-mountain, while the top measurement is called in by a snow cat driver closer to 3 am, at least based upon the report yesterday morning and the pictures provided by the powdercam located next to the measurement stake.
The end result is that disparities between the 5 am mid and top measurements should be discounted since the top measurement is not taken at the standard time. Indeed, the top did NOT receive 5” of snow between 5 am and 9 am yesterday morning as reported; it received 5” between 3 am and 9 am, and 3” between 5 am and 9 am, similar to what mid-mountain received.
So I headed up yesterday mid-morning for the 6” of snow, and several snow showers during the morning and early afternoon kept the runs skiing fresh as we eventually netted 8” mid / 9” top. Closet into Shadows first thing was generally very good until the crunchy sub-surface was exposed about half way down. Skiing was better and more consistent in the more northern aspects of Closet and Sideburn.
Twilight and both skier’s right and left of that drainage skied great as the pitch was shallow enough and the still-accumulating snows deep enough to separate the skier from crunchies underneath. Same for Rolex, and generally the top half skied better than the bottom half all day.
I had planned for only a couple of hours of skiing, but the conditions kept improving during the day. North St. Pats skied great, as usual, though by then easterly winds had picked up creating a smooth surface of wind-packed snow. As the winds increased for my last run, No Names provided great shelter and snow.
Those easterly winds played havoc with the snow measurement site - check out the drifting at about 3:45 pm yesterday; the location was buried 15 minutes later!
Saturday, February 22, 2014
The winds were picking up when I headed up around 2pm today, but they were less than the last couple of days, at least initially. Shadows was in surprisingly excellent condition as there was soft snow throughout. Perhaps the winds were strong enough to move the snow around but not strong enough to scour it from the surface. I did note some graupel this morning, and that may have played a part in the good skiing as it tends to roll into the existing ski tracks and smooth the surface.
I tried out skier’s left of Twilight, and found that far more inconsistent than Shadows. The same was true for the Rolex trees, so I skied another lap in Shadows to finish the day. I had hoped to visit the Chutes area as that has been excellent as well these last few days, but did not leave enough time for that.
We have more snow tonight, but unfortunately more wind as well. Let’s hope tomorrow is more like today than two days ago.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Yesterday was great and today was better as I measured about 7” around 2pm this afternoon covering my tracks from yesterday. Snow pellets or snow grains, which look like ‘dipping dots’ were falling out of the sky when I was up there, and created a fantastic medium to ski in.
And I mean ski IN as it was very easy to control the depth of the turn by the amount of pressure placed upon the ski. This was high density snowfall again as the temperature at the top was near 20F, but it was supremely consistent and could provide significant resistance if you dug deep. The end result is you could confidently charge very steep and narrow lines in complete control; in fact it often felt like slow-motion skiing as my skis traveled through the snow. And this was accompanied by the sound of the flying snow pellets thrown up by the turn bouncing off my outerwear, which added another dimension to the solitude of powder skiing in the empty trees.
Pretty much the entire Priest Creek area from Shadows over to Rolex had tons of untracked snow and skied similarly. Same goes for the Hurricane trees on my way over to the Why Not trees. The snow there on the lower mountain was heavier than up top, but the untracked snow still skied great.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
It seems I’ve been better at predicting snow amounts than snow quality these last 3 days! Yesterday and the day before most of where I skied was very wind-affected and inconsistent. We received similar snow amounts today as compared to those days, and I guessed the conditions would be similar, but the wind did not do the damage today that it did in the previous two days.
And in the case of the Sundown lifline, the wind burnished the powder into a soft and creamy surface that was a joy to ski. It seemed like lots of people had given up on the skiing today as there were fresh lines in all of the usual places, like Shadows, Lower Shadows, Twilight and the Rolex trees. Not waist-deep snow by any means, but a soft pliable surface that was bouncy and easy to spread. Even the heavier but still untracked snow over in the Why Not trees of the lower mountain skied great.
Today was, by far, the the best day of this storm cycle and it’s still snowing as the penultimate wave moves by. With some cool air moving in for tomorrow, I have high hopes that tomorrow will be even better, my current guesses about snow quality for this storm cycle notwithstanding!
Friday, February 7, 2014
By early this afternoon, winds had impacted both the upper and lower mountains where I skied today. Lifts were running slowly due to the high wind speeds, especially at the top of the mountain where whiteout conditions would briefly appear.
It was clear the open runs were wind-scoured, but I hoped to find some undisturbed snow in the more protected areas. The wind had gotten into the trees and there was drifting which made the skiing a fair bit on the inconsistent side. The snow within the drift was soft and deep, but my skis immediately accelerated when leaving the drift. I found this to be true in Shadows, Sideburn, Twilight trees, Rolex trees and finally Typhoon. The open area just off the Why Not trees skied well, but that is relatively limited vertical.
I expect a fair bit of snow over the next 3 days, but am concerned about the wind, especially tomorrow as it is forecast to stay westerly and increase. This mountain fairs poorly in due westerly flow since a lot of it faces west, so it is difficult to find protected areas. Lift holds and slowdowns are also most common with westerly winds.