Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

High Country Conservation Center (HC3)

The festival for HC3 was a big hit. People demo'd a lot of different skis. There was some serious social activity going on in the village. Smokey the Bear was a hit. We raised a bunch of money for the High Country Conservation Center. Thanks to everyone that chipped in.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Snorkel Door

Snorkelnose is open. After a long, steep, brutal hike up the Willy's Wide staircase skiers can pop on their skis, traverse North and slide through the Snorkel Door into Snorkelnose, maybe the coolest place at A-Basin (and that is saying something). It was my first journey up there this season. It just opened Thursday afternoon. I was expecting it to be kind of rough. I was totally wrong, the skiing was beautiful.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Save Our Snow Celebration

Saturday, come join us for the Save Our Snow Celebrations.The event is a day of environmental education and awareness and all proceeds go to the High Country Conservation Center. The Big Onions will be providing the music from 11 AM - 2 PM. There will be a prize drawing and silent auction with goods from Patagonia, Unity Snowboards, Skilogik, Albritton Skis, Meier Skis, Faction, and Never Summer. Join us for some good fun and a good time.

North Pole Staircase

Here is one you don't see too often. To access the North Pole region, we typically open the hiking gate near the Summit. Skiers and riders hike up the ridge line to Little Lenawee Peak and traverse East dropping into 1st Notch, 2nd Notch, East and West Vertical Cornice, Narrow North Pole and North Pole. The wind can affect the upper reaches of these lines. When the skiing gets too bony at the top, we will close that gate and, if conditions allows, set a staircase right up North Pole.So for the last couple of days, people have been hiking and skiing the North Pole staircase. You will, almost certainly, see the North Pole gate open again.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Just Had To Ski It

We ended up getting 11 inches out of this storm. Let's call it a foot. While the daily totals were reported over the last three mornings, most of the snow actually fell in the 36 hours between 1 AM Tuesday and mid-day Wednesday. This storm was very, very kind to the East Wall. The Ski Patrol kept up with the storm running hand routes, ski cutting, and firing the avalauncher. This morning they opened the Wall and the Willy's and North Pole staircases. I just took a spin out on the traverse. After getting below Snorkelnose, I stopped, took a good look and I just had to ski it. Absolutely, A+ fantastic. Thanks to the Patrol for making it happen today.

East Wall Tip - Skiing out the traverse, a skier will cross small ridges and micro-gullies. The deepest snow is found in the gullies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All In One Day

A little sun, a little snow, a lot of good skiing.

More Snow

2" new at 5 AM. report time.  Still snowing at 8 AM. We may see an additional 2-3 inches by the time the storm tapers mid-day. Yesterday morning the skiing was excellent. I expect more of the same today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Snow Overnight

While not a total surprise, the 5 inches of new snow we reported this morning was certainly a treat. Perhaps the flat tire on our Bobcat guaranteed plenty of new snow. The skiing should be top notch this morning. The clouds have broken up a bit, but later in the day we could see more activity rolling in. Don't be surprised to see the same amount of new snow again by mid-day tomorrow. Good, good, good.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ski Touring The Beavers

Whitney and I had a nice afternoon ski touring in The Beavers. We found some decent corn to ski, enjoyed some nice time in the woods, and had a good skin back uphill. Topped it off with a late lunch in The 6th Alley and we called it a day. Back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


You know, the views around this place, especially near the top of Pali, aren't too bad.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Alpenglow Ascents Rando Challenge

This afternoon is the first of two Saturday afternoon Uphill / Downhill spring randonee races. As can be expected, Patio designed an exciting and very challenging and ridiculously gritty event. He has them winding all over the mountain from Lower International to the top of Pali to The East Wall and more.  Of course, these racers love it. 47 of them are on the hill right now. The race started adjacent to The 6th Alley deck and one hundred people stood outside cheering them. These athletes never cease to amaze me. Very impressive.

If this event intrigues you (as a racer or a 6th Alley deck spectator), come on out to the next event April 18. Details can be found at arapahoebasin.com.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Good Freeze

Much better. We had a good freeze last night with the temperature getting down to 15 F. The next few days look much more like March with lows in the teens or twenties and highs in the mid thirties to low forties. During an afternoon ski I found all kinds of good snow on Larkspur, The East Wall, Slalom Slope, and Sundance. An after work skin to the top of Zuma Lift capped off a beautiful day. I love the long afternoons of Spring and Daylight Savings Time.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Amazing Employees

This evening we threw a little employee shindig in The 6th Alley. A few times during the season each manager recognizes the "Amazing Employees" in his/her department. Some of the comments are serious. Some are quite fun. Lift Ops Manager, Ben Morton, even writes a Haiku about each of his Amazing Employees. The F and B crew puts some food together for everyone. As you can imagine, it is quite fun. As I was leaving, I took a peak up at The East Wall just as the late day light was making it shine. 

No doubt this unseasonably warm weather has curtailed the hiking up there a bit. Tonight temperatures should drop into the teens and get us back to a more recognizable rhythm. Top that with a little snow and we should be back to normal soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What Determines An East Wall Opening?

"A tribunal of wizards go into a tent for four days, meditate, debate and look to the spiritual world for guidance. After four days, if white smoke emerges from the tent, the East Wall shall open."    -anonymous, March 18, 2015

That was the best blog comment ever.

The answer is snow. We need enough snow to make the skiing good. Most of The Wall is a big talus field and it takes a lot of snow to cover the rocks. Usually when the base gets in the high 40's to mid 50's inch range, we open it. Additionally, we have to do enough avalanche mitigation work to substantially reduce the chance of avalanches occurring. That involves a lot of explosives work, ski scutting, ski packing, and other activities. 

Sometimes continued warm weather, like the last few days, may cause a closure. As we get excessive water moving through the snowpack, wet slides are possible and we want The Wall closed when that happens.

Enjoy the photo I took on Little Lenawee Sunday afternoon.

Monday, March 16, 2015

East Wall Opening History

I did a little digging into our records for the East Wall opening. Going back the last 21 seasons, I found some interesting info about East Wall opening dates. During this period, the East Wall opened 6 times in January, 6 times in February, and 7 times in March. There were two dry years that the Wall did not open. This season the Wall opened March 7.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Really Good Skiing In Willy's

I found myself enjoying a day off by climbing up the Willy's Wide staircase this afternoon. After a warm hike, Kay and I and a couple of friends enjoyed skiing the left side of the chute. While springtime has made it to the mountains, we still found soft winter snow up high. The skiing was the highlight of a very good ski day. We topped off the afternoon on The 6th Alley Bar and Grill deck with apres' ski food, a cold one, and lots of laughs.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring Snow In Jump

Today was, again, another stellar bluebird Arapahoe Basin kind of day. I would describe conditions on the Front Side as good packed winter snow and in Montezuma Bowl as early spring conditions. Zuma was soft, but not the deep slushy stuff. I had a particularly good run in Jump, steep with nice, soft snow. Sunday and Monday look to offer more of the same with the possibility of a storm rolling through mid-week. The Beach is rumbling to life.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Snow And Sun

The snow did come through for us last night. We reported 5" new and the snow kept falling for a few more hours. The morning was fairly socked in. The middle of the day, when I went skiing, the clouds were kind of broken with a few snowflakes still falling. The ski day finished with the sun making a fairly good presence. I found great skiing on Slalom Slope, Black Bear, and Powerline. We just might have a few terrain park surprises soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Just Started Snowing

The afternoon snow is a nice treat. Both Opensnow.com and NOAA are forecasting a bit of snow by Saturday. The weekend should be sunny with blue skies and great skiing. Let's hope we score on the high side of this one. My morning tour riding Pali, Lenawee Mountain, Black Mountain Express, and Zuma Lifts found good snow all around.