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.

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