Santa – Where the Bleep is the Snow!?
We knew it would happen! Last winter saw western ski resorts get pummeled with snow and, although winter came late to the east, when it came it didn’t disappoint. This year thus far – not so much! Yes, we know it is very early in the season but we are a tad shocked at the universal paucity of natural snow in North America. We are all used to parts of the country faring better than others or winter long patterns that favor east or west or north or south. But this winter thus far has failed to seriously appear for anyone.
The east started off well. Late November and early December actually saw some mini powder days. But by the time the typical casual skier focused on hitting the slopes, 4-6 inches of rain hammered New England literally wiping out any snow pack – natural or fake. This resulted in many areas closing for multiple days leading up to Christmas week. The holiday week was partially saved through man made snow, but the last couple days have seen the return of immature snow and very warm temperatures. The weather report for Warren VT (home to Sugarbush and Mad River Glen) predicts rain and temperatures above forty degrees until several days after New Years. A quick sampling of ski reports illustrates the dire conditions. Mad River Glen (which relies mostly on God (or whoever is actually in control up there) snow has only their baby practice slope open and is advising using caution due to thin cover. Sugarloaf in Maine is reporting only 36 of 162 trails open entirely on man made snow with continued drizzle for several days.
While the west is reporting better conditions, in many cases it is only because of several early season monster storms. The last half of December has been a big miss. Our home mountains of Alta/Snowbird have a solid base with only the gnarliest chutes closed. But we haven’t seen any serious new snow in several weeks. When we have skied, we remind ourselves that the fast and firm surface we are on would qualify as good east coast skiing. That is a bad sign when we make that comparison.
In looking at reports from other western resorts, we are among the few lucky ones. Colorado has some respectable skiing – Vail is reporting 3/4 of their massive terrain open. But elsewhere – ouch! Taos in New Mexico has 30 out of its 100 trails open and most of those are front side easier trails dependent on man made snow. The US pacific northwest has seen moisture but much of it has been rain. Crystal Mountain in Washington reports 32 of 88 trails open and none of the steeper terrain is open. British Columbia has been particularly dry. Whistler/Blackcomb is reporting about one third of their terrain open and mandatory downloading from mid mountain to the villages due to poor coverage. Interior BC is no better. Red Mountain has delayed its opening several times due to lack of snow and now expects to open December 28th!
We know it has to change for someone soon. We hope it’s where you are!
Be Well: Ski Well