We had another big trail opening today. Much of West Zuma is now open for skiing and riding. That is the area below the Zuma Cornice beyond MGD. Today's opening included Schauffler and Jump. I had a nice run in Jump. This Pano function on my iphone is kind of fun. Be sure and enlarge this image to get the full picture.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
As great as the skiing has been the last few days, the temps have been just a wee bit chilly. Chilly enough that some of you have been staying away. Well, the next few days should be about 20 degrees warmer. Today, I enjoyed a very bundled up family ski day. The North Side and MGD were tremendous and we warmed up with food from the Crepe Station at Black Mountain Lodge. Wednesday should be a stellar day with mostly sunny skies and the temps might break out of the teens. Don't miss it.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
It has been snowing lightly most of the day. The forecasts say this might be a halfway decent little storm with somewhere between 4"-12" of new snow the next 2 days. The skiing was superb again today. All the lines I skied, including The Spine, Durrance, and Standard. were in very nice shape. It just keeps getting better.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
The Montezuma Bowl opening was all we hoped for. There were groomers. There were glades. There was even some steep powder. People were having a great time. About noon we opened MGD or more specifically Black Bear, Long Chute, Max, Groswold, and Durrance. That was a planned and hoped for bonus that came through. I think people were having a little fun there. It was a bit chilly to start the morning, but that did not seem to dull the excitement in any way. A whole lot of our staff put significant energy into making this opening happen today. Be sure and give your friendly, neighborhood A-Basin employee a hug. Today was one of those stunningly, brilliant A-Basin kind of days. I live for days like this.
Friday, December 26, 2014
There was a really good winching question a couple of posts ago. Why is the winch at the top? Heads up - this is definitely Snow Nerd stuff. Most of the winching we do involves using a fixed anchor. The winch cat attaches to the anchor then lowers itself down and up below the anchor. We have dozens of fixed anchors scattered about the mountain. Sometime we do this with a mobile anchor which is another snow cat.
What we do establishing Montezuma Bowl is different. Again, a major worry is the snowcat getting stuck down in the soft, loose snow in the Bowl with no way out. Once the snow is packed and firm, the cats can climb out with relative ease. As the cats move downhill, they go down steeper pitches and flatter pitches. So to prevent a cat getting stuck, the winch cat parks at the top of a steeper pitch and lowers a regular cat down that steeper pitch. The regular cat makes several passes on the steeper pitch. Once that is done, at the bottom of the steeper pitch the regular cat disconnects from the winch cat and makes several "FREE" passes on the flatter terrain, usually down to the top of the next steeper pitch. Once that is done the regular cat heads uphill to the end of the winch cable and reconnects. The winch then pulls the regular cat up to the top of the steep pitch. We let that snow firm up for 1/2 a day to a day before returning. Upon return the packed snow is firm and both cats can get down and climb back up the steeper pitch. The cats then move further downhill to the next steep pitch and start the process all over again and again and again.
This is a multi-day process and is why it takes us several days to get the groomed routes in Montezuma Bowl established.
Montezuma Bowl will open Saturday. You can expect extraordinary conditions. One of the most frequent questions I get is "When will Montezuma Open?" My typical answer is when we have a 40ish" base. It does vary from year to year and some years it has taken us to the 45+" range to get open. Today we have a 35" base and this will be one of our best Zuma openings. The way the snow has fallen this year (amount, duration, wind direction) has been absolutely ideal for Montezuma Bowl. As I say that, it has also been ideal for Pali and pretty much the rest of the mountain.
Look to ski Miner's Glade, Independence, Shining Light, Columbine, and the 14ers. The way the snow is I expect our progression of trail openings back there to move along quickly.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
A winch cat is a specially equipped snowcat with a large mounted winch. Snowcats cannot climb every slope and still groom effectively. The winch actually helps pull the snowcat up the hill allowing the operator to move more snow and leave a better skiing surface.
These pictures, taken Wednesday, show a couple of operators winching the Columbine Step in Montezuma Bowl. This effort is the linchpin of getting Columbine (and Montezuma Bowl) open. Once this pitch is packed, it is doubtful the winch will be needed again. Having a groomed top to bottom route in Zuma boosts travel and work efficiency tremendously.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The crew had another big night and day back in Montezuma Bowl. There is plenty of snow back there to get open. We just have to keep working it. The upper portion was winched last night and is ready to go. There is a zone about halfway down that tends to get beat up a bit by the wind. A lot of our snow farming energy goes into capturing snow in those zones. We have numerous snow fences there and caught a lot of snow in each of the big storms. Once we catch the snow, we move the fences and the snowcats pack the snow and move it where we need it. The lower portion going into the lift looks incredible. The snowcat operators need to be extremely careful moving around back there. We often use the winch cat to move down each steeper slope to pack the snow and firm it up. If we don't do that, the snowcat might get stuck in the loose unconsolidated snow. Using the winch cat, we know we can get the operator and the machine back up the hill. A stuck snowcat is no fun. This is a very effective, but time consuming process. Continue to stay tuned.
......And just as a reminder, the skiing and riding on the Front Side is absolutely top notch.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Montezuma Bowl was everything I expected and more. There is an extraordinary amount of snow back there. Getting it open is our top priority. We have a massive amount of work to do. The lift, snowcat, trail maintenance and ski patrol crews are going to be super busy the next few days grooming, dozing, rigging, blasting, packing, shoveling, tying, stringing, padding and more. Stay tuned for more info. When we get there, this will be an exceptional Montezuma opening. I guarantee, as soon as we know the day, you will know the day. It won't be long.
I haven't been skiing yet, but almost everyone I have bumped into is smiling from ear to ear. The lifts opened on time despite the big snow. Reports say the skiing is excellent. I am putting my boots on now. It still has not stopped snowing. Most of the North Side including North Glade is now open. A few people were annoyed that they had to park in High Noon this morning. Every once in a while when a very big storm happens and there is a Professor shoot, the clearing of Early Riser is delayed for the safety of the plow drivers. So when we can't plow Early Riser we get High Noon ready and start parking there. Sorry if that inconvenienced anyone.
I just might be evaluating Montezuma Bowl this afternoon. We have to be close back there.
Oh My God. 19" New. We have already had a big day up here. The snow removal crew has been jamming since 4 AM. The Ski Patrol is all over the hill. CDOT just shot The Professor. This is going to be one of those absolutely incredible days. It may take a while to get everything going. You may not get to park where you want to, but today is going to be THE DAY. Oh yeah, and it is still snowing heavily.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Had just an incredible day of skiing. The storm rolled in as forecast. We reported 3" new overnight and it snowed all day long. I have held off a little bit talking about the North Side. It has been open for limited hours with early season conditions. Well today, the North Side was just outstanding. We skied up The Face, The Spine, The Rock Garden, The Alleys, Standard, 13 Cornices and more. Snow is still falling. I can't wait until tomorrow morning. The skiing is GOOD.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
I took a couple more laps skiing in Montezuma today. I skied Columbine top to bottom and then did a wandering tour of Columbine/Shining Light/Ned's Cache/Miner's Glade/Larkspur. We have had a bit over 4" of snow since my Wednesday tour. The new snow made a difference and the coverage back there keeps improving. The incoming storm still looks really good. Work-wise, getting Montezuma Bowl open is at the top of our list.
And while I was back in Zuma, Tele Santa was ripping up the Front Side.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Uphill Access during operating hours will now be open most of the time. I still encourage you to check the "Runs Open" page of our website for the latest info. As a reminder, Uphill Access during operating hours is limited to the East side of High Noon and uphill travelers can go no higher than Black Mountain Lodge. To make this clearer and easier, we have installed "Uphill Access Route" signs along the East side of High Noon. Follow those signs during operating hours. Please enjoy, please hug the East side of High Noon (during operational hours), please get a FREE Uphill Access Pass, and please be safe and smart while travelling.
In the coming days, we will see some positive changes across the Mountain. We have been making snow in Powerline, Norway, and Lenawee Parks. Norway is open for skiing. It will only get bigger and wider with new snowfall We have made a lot of snow on Powerline and plan on significant dozing and grooming the next few nights. That trail will ski very nicely. We have also had some excellent snowmaking just inside the Lenawee Parks gate. All and all, there will be a lot more and a lot better skiing available off the Summit.
Have you seen the forecast? It looks like Sunday morning we are in the snow again. I anticipate more skiing on the North Side. The fun factor will be high.