Snow in excellent condition

Friday, January 17, 2014

The last new snow that fell was during the day Tuesday, but temperatures in the single digits during the night and twenties during the day have kept the snowpack in peak condition. I was up on Wednesday for the leftovers, which were great, but I brought my narrower boards today since I figured the snow would lend itself to a carve-ier ski.

First run, as usual, was down the upper part of Closet and then a traverse into Shadows. Closet was great with the snow soft and grippy, and there were even patches of unskied powder that was still soft and deep. The sun was starting to make the the snow thicker and heavier in Shadows, so I retreated back to skier’s right to find terrain with less of a southern aspect. The low sun angle this time of year really helps to preserve snow quality. so most things tilted west of due south remain very good.

Then into Lower Shadows where the ridgeline on skier’s left also skied great, especially if you can plan to turn where other’s haven’t!. Next run was a ripper down the Sundown lifline which skied soft and consistent. Short, medium or long radius turns - it didn’t matter as the snow allowed you to ski however you wanted.

Next run was in the 3:30 trees, but I found this to boarded out - by which I mean that several snowboarders have evidently turned in similar places making huge ruts in tight trees that made the skiing inconsistent. So I ambled over the 3 O’Clock and found the right side just off the grooming track to hold more great carveable snow. I then took Duster for another run down Lower Shadows, but noticed Patrol had dropped the rope on the left side of Lower Shadows recently, maybe even today. There were several very steep but short southern aspect lines that held very consistent but deep, heavy untracked powder. I traversed to the right to regain the ridge and the colder snow before getting dumped back into the lifline.

Last run up top was upper Closet and over to Typhoon. Lots of soft snow, and even some untracked in the tighter lines, and that skied great. Then, a couple of runs over in the Why Not trees that skied as well as anything up top.

It looks like we are in a dry spell for at least the next week, and models are struggling mightily with a pattern change advertised for around next weekend, so get the snow now while its at its freshest.

Spring powder skiing in early January

Saturday, January 11, 2014

You could take today and place it in April, except for the low sun angle! The difference between today and yesterday was shocking as base temperatures warmed to almost 40F while the top warmed from 14F yesterday afternoon to 24F this afternoon. I believe the wind last night carried the warm air into the snowpack and made the top several inches or half foot heavy and sluggish. This seemed true everywhere in Shadows as the shady aspects skied very similar to the sunny aspects. Still deep pockets of the storm total from the last few days, but these had to be skied deliberately and powerfully.

The trees off of Rolex skied better, though the evergreens in the upper half skied better than the more open Aspen on the lower half. After popping out of the trees, I enjoyed great soft packed powder on the sides of the trail. In fact, that was so good that my last run up top was down Twister below Four Points, and the left side skied great. The snow got heavier and less skied near the bottom, but still good consistent skiing.

I was thinking the lower mountain powder would be even heavier due to the warmer temperatures, but I was wrong! After skiing a very pleasant soft and carveable Lower Vagabond, I noticed some skiers in the powder under the Thunderhead lift kicking up some powder snow, which was NOT happening up top. I figured a poke into the Why Not trees was worth the effort, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find the heavy layer missing. The snow skied a bit heavy since it was so warm, but deep and consistent through the entire turn depth. I had a few minutes before the bus, so I hopped on Christy and ripped some soft GS turns down Sitz and See Ya that left huge trenches in the packed powder. Really fun skiing on a beautiful sunny day!

We are back to winter sometime around midnight tonight, with snow lasting through Monday and maybe even Tuesday before the sun and another false spring returns starting midweek.

Really good storm skiing this afternoon

Friday, January 10, 2014

It’s been snowing about an inch per hour the entire day, and at 1pm the Steamboat ski area reported 13” had fallen at mid and top in the last 24 hours. It was a bit windy on the hill, and with winds increasing during the afternoon, conditions evolved through the day. In general and as you might expect, any aspect sheltered by the wind skied better as the afternoon progressed, but the wind was even starting to get into the trees and create some drifting there.

An early run down Shadows skied well, especially the lower half, as did the left side of Lower Shadows. The wind was strong enough to buff Sundown liftline so that it skied very consistently, encouraging high speed and bouncy GS turns for a couple of runs. Even the gully just above Duster was skiing great as many (but not all!) of the rocks were covered. Rolex trees also skied very deep if you could find the untracked lines, and the Aspen near the bottom were sublime.

The lower mountain received similar amounts of snow, so that was skiing great too. A quick run down the middle of Concentration had tons of untracked turns. Vertigo is a smaller trail than Concentration and had less untracked snow, but the skiing was still soft and consistent.

Fine skiing this afternoon

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

3” of new snow was reported at mid-mountain at 1pm with temperatures in the upper 20’s, while the upper mountain had a temperature around 10F. I feared dust-on-crust conditions up top, but was very pleasantly surprised to find very soft skiing everywhere.

The snow that fell was comprised of very small rimed snow crystals that formed a dense but buoyant surface. Riming occurs when snow crystals fall through a moist cloud layer comprised of supercooled water droplets. These water droplets then freeze on the snow crystal and obscure its original pristine shape. In fact, when the original shape of the crystal is no longer identifiable, the precipitation is referred to as graupel.

My perfunctory first run down Shadows found soft snow and big patches of the 3” of unskied powder. Next over to the Twilight area, of which the first half pretty much skied the same as Shadows. The lower half was warmer and more tilted to whatever sun we had up there this afternoon, and was getting heavy.

Last run I ripped down Sundown lifline, and the tracked up snow skied soft and bouncy and was extremely carveable. Then, up Elkhead to first catch Concentration, and then the last ride up Thunderhead for Vertigo. Both of these runs also skied soft and bouncy, very similar to Sundown liftline. A quick ride up Bashor lift to access See Me, which also skied great, to end the afternoon.

Outstanding skiing this afternoon

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Well, the storm did end up cooperating as the 1pm 24 hour report was 10” at mid and snowing. Added to the 2” yesterday morning means a foot, and they likely picked up an additional inch or so after 1pm as it snowed till about 3 or so. At that point the sun made an appearance creating stunning vistas!

I passed on pressing glass this morning as there was only 5” overnight, and since we had a period of time with westerly winds, I was thinking the snow would be wind-affected and difficult to ski. However, heavy snow showers started this morning when the wind switched to the northwest and I believe these filled in all of the uneveness.

The first clue was the flat pitch in the trees off the top of Storm Peak Express and Highline which skied soft, powdery and bouncy. Skiing remained that way as the pitch steepened down though Closet and over to Shadows to Lower Shadows. I measured between 14” and 16” of snow in the favored areas, with about the bottom half of that depth showing wind affects.

That was so good I repeated with slightly different lines through Shadows and Lower Shadows. Then over to the Twilight area which also skied great. Then over to the trees around Rolex which also held more of the same.

Last run on the upper hill was a ripping run down most of Sundown lifline. This did not have the depth of new snow, however the surface was burnished by the wind creating a consistent, soft and bouncy surface. Over to the newly opend terrain under the the old Priest Creek chair below Duster to find pockets of deep bottomless turns.

I then took a couple of runs in the trees off of Why Not above BC Skiway on the lower mountain, but there is a lot of downed timber and shrubbery in there and more snow is needed. But I found great deep consistent powder while dodging the obstacles nonetheless.

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15 December 2020

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