I can’t quite figure out how to categorize today, how to make my impressions of the mountain fit into a neat little package — something I normally prize myself on doing. It was just a goofy but awesome Monday morning ski!
To start, when I arrived at the base area at 8:15, the only chair scheduled to open was Christie. Even Thunderhead was on a wind hold. By 8:30, however, the entire hill was on tap to open as regularly scheduled. Everyone on the gondola with me was wondering where to ski, what the wind had done to the 3″ of new and the piles of leftover freshies from yesterday. Rumor was that the top of the mountain was totally still but that mid-mountain had borne the brunt of the wind.
I headed back toward the Daze to see. Sure enough, weirdness! The mist was thick, and I couldn’t see a thing. The wind seemed to have come out of the Northwest and (true to rumor) was most evident at the top of Heavenly Daze. I ducked into Vertigo to get my *#$* kicked by powdery bumps. The top few were challenging to say the least, as I bounced in between pockets of wind-blown deep and packed-out fast bumps. But as I continued, the wind effect mellowed, the visibility improved, and the skiing got really fun —a good confidence booster compared to the beginning of my run.
I decided to head back up into the clouds to see what happened up top, so I took a fun Rudy’s groomer to Storm Peak. I tried out the trees in Sideburns, and after the first few turns threw me for a whirl, the wind effect mellowed and lots of deep soft snow remained from yesterday. The lower I got toward Duster, the better the skiing. To add to the puzzle of my morning, the sun seemed to be trying to break through, clearing the fog for most of my run.
Itching to catch a few more before calling it a day, I raced over to Lower Rainbow. It was groomed last night but had a few inches of fresh wind buff and pretty much no tracks around, making for a fast and furious carving session. Thinking I might get sun, I took one last ride up Storm Peak, but it is called Storm Peak for a reason. It was dumping up top. When I need a run to ease my way, be predictable and ski well, I head to One O’Clock. Sure enough, there was soft snow, hidden from the wind no matter what direction it came from, freshies in the trees, and it was soft all the way down through High Noon.
To round out my confusion, after riding up Elkhead for my last run (still snowing hard), I skied Valley View and See Me. My best, softest deepest turns of the day? See Me. What is usally a fast hard packed groomer was 6″ – 12″ deep with soft bumps. Much of that was left over from yesterday, and the middle didn’t have the soft bumps as it was groomed yesterday as well, but the right side was straight up deep powder. Go figure.
Moral of the story, just go ski. I can’t quite tell the story of this storm, as all my expectations were tossed on their heads. But the skiing is great, as it has been all season. If I wanted to make a prediction it would be: powder afternoon. It’s snowing hard, and very few folks are out on the mountain. Get your chores done and get up there. And let me know if you figure it all out!
Happy Monday skiers and riders!
Ali Givnish, Alpine skier