Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ski Week Snow Forecast.

Main Street in Emigrant Basin is still full of gnar.
In short, this coming week one of the best of the season thus far.  You may even say it will be the best.  It just depends on what you prefer.  This current week has been pretty good if you like powder and don't mind a few storms.  Today and Monday both had fresh snow.  Tuesday had some perfect wind buff.  So that is not too bad by my standards.  But let's talk about the coming holiday week.

For starters, resorts have received between 8 inches and two feet of snow since Sunday night.  Finally, it is starting to really look like winter out there.  The forecast for today is cold sun.  Thursday and Friday will see some warming, but it does not look like we will top 40F at 8000 feet.  So, what that means is the north facing slopes that you typically find at resorts will keep the cold, squeaky, wintery snow.  Southerly facing slopes will start to see the snow turn toward a melt/freeze type surface.  But not too bad.  The forecast for this coming weekend is clouds and light, to possibly moderate snow.  Again, not too bad.  We could see a dusting to, with some luck, a foot of snow.  This is another one of those cut off systems that will be hard to forecast.  Slight shifts in its track will significantly alter our potential snow fall.  Still, this year, every single 1/4 inch counts.  Expect clouds for Saturday with snow flurries starting some time through the day.  Things could start to wind up Saturday night and into Sunday.  Then more flurries to start of Washington'e Birthday.  Clearing by evening.

Anyway, we have been getting snow this week already.  So that means it is fresh on top.  And we might get more this weekend.  More fresh.  Say goodbye to the hard park.  At least for now.

Have fun with what is out there.  This rock is usually just part of the snow apron.  

Keep checking the weather forecast to get a better idea of what this weekend has in store.  Even if we only get a few inches, it will keep that surface nice and powdery.  By Tuesday, another high pressure will be setting up over California.  As of right now, it looks like we will see sun through the rest of the week.  Things will start cool, but could get warm as the week progresses.  So, nice and wintery to start, with some spring like conditions possible by week's end.  Some time near the end of the holiday week we could see another series of storms starting to come into the coast.  So, again, watch the weather, and plan your departure accordingly.

The views from Kirkwood are astounding.  Behind the Sisters, and one route from Carson Pass to Kirkwood is Life on the Edge.

Every Tahoe resort is different.  Those with the lower base, you may want to stick a bit more to the upper mountain.  Things are still good below 7000 feet, but it does start to get a little thin and boney.  Some of the low angle hills, like Northstar are skiing well and filled in enough for most of there terrain.  OTOH, technical steeps like the Fingers at Squaw are still super gnar.  Be aware.

Stovepipe or Sally Alley are well filled to Emigrant Lake.
I've been skiing at and near Kirkwood since the January storms hit us.  Just in case you are wondering, coverage is fantastic up there.  If you are a groomer lover, then you never need to worry about hitting rocks or the such.  Off piste, it is still low tide out there, so play smart.  But where the snow has filled in (think chutes, gulies and dips) the coverage is great.  The only concerns are traversing across spines and rock ribs.  And the bigger lines are still huge and best left alone.  But, conversely, slopes that can get pretty boring come regular or deep snow pack coverage are super fun right now.  Lots of bumps and rolls to play around on.  Oh, and the backcountry, if that is your thing, is starting to ski great.

Carson Pass has its spots right now.  Same with other locations around the lake.  The best skiing will be on the mellower lines.  And any spot that naturally captures the snow.  Stability is, and will be, a bit of a concern with the fresh snow and windy conditions.  Slabs are forming on slabs.  Know what you are doing and check out the forecast with SAC.  And know before you go.  As in, carry the correct equipment, have the knowledge to use it properly and make good decisions.  There have already been a ton of avalanche fatalities this year.  The dragon is out there.  But so is a ton of fantastic snow.  So if it your thing, maybe think about venturing out for a few days after that resort snow gets packed into bumps.

This will be a awesome week to get up and get some.  So if you are on the fence, do it.  Enjoy your week, and hope to see your smiling face out there on the slopes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It Snowed!!!! Finally.

Casey jumps into Thunder Saddle.  Doing his part of busting up that crust for you.

Big changes up in the Sierra.  There is snow.  Kirkwood, California.

Hey folks.  It finally snowed a bit in the Sierra Nevada.  OMG, did we need that.  Higher elevations along the crest did best.  Snow levels were high and a heavy does of Sierra Cememnt was poured across the craggy tops.  Things got pretty fun for a few days during the past weekend and the first half of the week.  First is snowed, and snowed.  Up to five feet in some of the better locations.  A few feet down to the base of all the resorts.  Powderhounds were out and powder was had.  Some resorts opened for the first time this winter.  Others expanded terrain.  More powder was had.  Then it rained.  Only in this season could it happen like this.

Busting crust is hard work.  Crust is hard.  This guy wears his full face to stay beautiful.
Before there was crust, there was powder.  And the landings were soft.  Lower Sentinel Bowl, Kirkwood.

Low tide means plenty of billy goat lines.  Casey #2 hippity hops down Dan's.

And before there was snow, Ollie slarved the man made.

But enough talk about before there was snow.  Sunrise Chair has plenty of coverage.  Kirkwood.

But a little rain on snow is not enough to get us bummed.  We finally had some real, nature made, snow.  And it would be a shame to let that go to waste.  And pretty much most of the Bay Area felt the same.  Resorts saw huge crowds for the last weekend in January.  Parking lots were full.  Lines formed.  Even those spots that tend to keep the crowds away saw some waits for the lifts.  Essentially, it was groomer weather.  Fast, grippy and hard.  Off piste, things ranges from rutted boilerplate to sun softened crust on a few inches of some sort of snow that kind of resembled powder.  Some of the best snow was to be found on snow that was not skied before the rain, in the trees, in the shade.  You just needed to bust through an inch of crust to find honest to goodness powder*.  You just sometimes have to work for it.  *Okay, maybe not quite blower, but loose snow none the less.

Patrol always get the best snow before the public.  These guys are working hard getting terrain open.  Say "thank you."

Casey back at it.  Getting ready to break through some of that crust.
Can you believe this is from just two weeks ago.  Thankfully, we got plastered by that storm.  The hill looks good.
Gnar up top.  Cruisers down below.  A perfect run.

The truth of the matter is that on those freshly skied north facing slopes, you will probably be better off next weekend, as opposed to last weekend.  Let the die hards do the hard work of busting down through the crust, and breaking up the snow underneath.  Continued mild temperatures and the low angled January sun will do their part of preserving the snow this week.  By the weekend, you could be skiing on soft powdery bumps instead of fresh crust.  Trust me, that is the better option.  Also, follow that sun.  South east facing slopes will get it first.  Head to Sunrise at Kirkwood or Sherwood at Alpine.  As the sun comes up and cross the sky, the SW and finally west facing slopes will begin to corn.  As long as the sun is shining, the air in the 40s and the wind mellow.  And of course, the groomers will do well.  I prefer the shaded north slope groomers this time of year.  Sure, they don't soften in the sun.  But then again, they don't get glazed once the sun is off of them.

Chair 10 is open.  Be prepared for some firm snow up top.

Sunny slopes are trying to soften up and provide some corn.

The west facing stuff was great around 2pm.  Court slides down the soft serve below Red Cliff.

The backside of the mountain.  Spicy.

No matter what, we now have snow.  And a bomb proof base.  If you are a snow snob, you won't like it.  But it is some of the best stuff we have had all year.  Better than rocks.  We did have a few days of powdery goodness, but for now, we need to wait for the next big storm.  Hopefully we get that before ski week.  And if we do, it could be the best holiday break of the season.  If you have not been out to the snow yet this year, this would be a great time to do it.  Stretch the legs.  Practice how to pack the car, get to the resort, buckle up your boots, adjust your bindings.  Because if you wait until that perfect powder day, you will be starting a bit late and ending your day with lunch and beers by noon.  'Cause it will whip you.

Hollywood Hip is ready for some hits.

The coverage out there is exceptional considering we have had really only one storm.

And with a drive home looking like this, well, who cares about the snow.

And what are the prospects for more snow?  Not much for now.  For regular updates, monitor the real weather. Sure, we mainly are looking at Santa Cruz and the beaches, but when storms and snow are on the way, we start chattering.  For now, expect more sun for the start of February.  And some warming by this weekend.  We could be ripening up some corn.  But at least we got a few inches the other night. Next week there is a chance for a bit more.  Keep tuned, and pray for snow.