Wednesday, November 26, 2014

When CDOT Says Loveland Pass Is Closed

When CDOT closes Loveland Pass, 99+% of the time this means Highway 6 is closed between Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin. 99+% of the time Highway 6 between Keystone and A-Basin is still open and, most importantly, A-BASIN IS OPEN. People driving from the Front Range can almost always still access A-Basin by driving through the tunnel and coming through Keystone. When the road between Keystone and A-Basin is closed, it is due to major newsworthy event like an avalanche, rock slide or significant vehicle accident. Rare - maybe once every few years.

Closing the Pass is an inconvenience for everyone. CDOT does an outstanding job with snow removal and avalanche work, but there are times the road needs to be closed. The most up to date info on road status is on CDOT's website, Unfortunately, re-opening times can be tenuous and hard to pin down.

58 Inches in 16 Days

November has been very good.  In the last 16 days, 58 inches of snow has fallen. This morning I spent a couple of hours out tooling around with the Ski Patrol. They opened up the rest of Lenawee Parks and Upper Exhibition (some fine powder skiing in both places). The storm was delightfully large and we are playing a little bit of catch up right now. Intense avalanche work is occurring on Pali and in Zuma Bowl. We have snowcats working today in closed terrain on the Cornice Run and a few other places. As we look towards the next couple days you can expect to have quite a bit more terrain open.  I anticipate the opening of Wrangler, Humbug, Cornice/ West Wall, and maybe Slalom Slope, Grizzly, and Radical. Starting tomorrow, we should see several days of sunny skies. If you are the kind of person that loves skiing beautiful, blue days or skiing powder on fresh openings, I recommend a visit. It looks like mid winter out there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

And It Keeps Snowing

While snow was expected today, I think Mother Nature exceeded all of our expectations. It snowed a lot. I am very anxious to see the morning report. Yes, Yes, Yes, more terrain will be opening up. Right now, I am not exactly sure what and when, but tomorrow things will be happening. If I was going to pick an early season powder day to go skiing, it would be tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Random East Wall

I just stumbled on this old East Wall photo looking up Willy's Wide with two skiers down low. I am not sure who took it or when. From the clothing, I am guessing, maybe the 60's. Anyway, it is a very cool picture and a reminder that people have been at this powder skiing thing for a while now.

Lenawee Parks was open all day today. It is snowing at the area this evening and we are still expecting more good snow Monday. And it isn't even Thanksgiving yet. Pretty nice November so far.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Foot-packing, Track-packing, and New Snow

After ski cutting, staff will often sidestep down as shown below on Slalom Slope and West Wall (sorry the sky was gray and the pictures are a little flat). This week following the big storm, the staff tried to impact as many places as possible. On lower angle terrain, we had the snowcats track-packing as many areas as they could. We even put up several portable snow fences in Montezuma Bowl. We still have a good looking storm heading our way. Areas that have been packed or impacted will experience good skiing much more quickly than areas that had not seen this work. We are poised and ready for this storm.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Good Looking Forecast

I don't want to get too excited and jinx things, but the forecast into early next week is looking pretty good. Decent snowfall should start sometime Saturday and continue for a few days. Currently, our snowmaking is ahead of schedule. We had 3 feet of snow last week. We have a lot of terrain open and a lot more poised to really benefit from a storm. I see some powder skiing in the near future.

Ski Cutting - What, Why, How?

There are entire chapters of books dedicated to defining ski cutting.Very generally ski cuts are ski tracks typically cutting across areas prone to avalanche. Once multiple ski cuts overlap each other, they often make an argyle pattern. We do a lot of it at The Basin. Here are just a few very basic explanations of why we ski cut.

1.  Ski cutting often follows avalanche explosive work and helps reduce the chance of avalanches occurring. Following ski cutting, staff may sidestep, bootpack, or ski an avalanche path. These combined activities help break up snow slabs that may otherwise slide.

2.  Ski cutting is a method used by patrollers to reduce the chance of staff getting injured. Workers try and move from relatively safe spot to relatively safe spot minimizing their exposure to avalanche zones. Ski Cutting is always done one person at a time, with the appropriate equipment, and never alone. A partner is always watching the skier, prepared to help if needed.

3.  Ski cutting is one of many steps that help create better snow conditions. These activities pack down the snow and break up funky, early season layers. As new snow falls on the impacted snow, outstanding ski conditions develop.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

First Pali Ride Of The Season

Yesterday afternoon I took my first Pali chairlift ride of the season. I think I sound like a broken record, but that last storm was really good to us over there. The Ski Patrol has been all over Slalom Slope and much of the North Side. There have been a couple of small slides on Pali, one naturally on The Face, and one triggered with explosives on Main Street. So............... I know the next question is "When?". Each year conditions are a little different. Most commonly, we first open Cornice West Wall and Slalom Slope from the Summit. Opening Pali Lift tends to follow not too long afterwards. We will be watching this next storm very carefully. One storm? Two storms? Time will tell.