Tag Archives: Snow

I’m a Sucker for a Snowstorm

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Not a bad lunch spot.

Not a bad lunch spot.

I’m like a moth to the flame. When it snows, I can’t help myself. I have to go towards those flakes like my life depends on it.

I woke this morning to a fresh snowfall. This time I debated on whether or not to bring my skis. From my apartment at the base of Crystal, the peaks looked pretty salt and peppery this morning, pretty chocolate-chippy (to quote Tom Winter). So I decided not to bring my skis.

Maybe I made the wrong decision, because I could have made about ten legitimate turns today. They’d have been hop turns, trying-to-stay-light-on-my-feet turns, praying that I didn’t hook a tip under something awful and immovable. But I brought my camera instead. Which was nice since the sun was out. With all that fresh snow (a compacted 7-9″ inches at the top of Green Valley) it was legit bluebird.

Possible Crystal Mountain Opening Tomorrow

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This is good news. Really good news.

It's dumping

It’s dumping

Crystal might open tomorrow. There’s almost enough snow in Green Valley to spin the lifts, and if we get the forecasted snow (fingers crossed) then we can do it.

I spent the day in Green Valley today, setting up bamboo ropelines and watching the skies carefully. It has now started to snow heavily–snowflakes the size of ten-year-olds. The old crust is supportive, and the turns were actually quite good. A little bit more and it will be like Rocktoberfest–the earlier “Valley Only” opening we did in October. If you were there, or if you heard about it, you know how good it was.

Tomorrow morning at 5am we will make the call. John and I plan to ride the gondola at 4:30am with our headlamps, take a lap into the valley and go from there. I, for one, am hoping for good things.

If you have plans tomorrow, you might want to put them on hold. Once we make that 5am decision, it will go out on the website and Facebook.

So stay tuned and think snow.

Snow in the Forecast

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I’m not one to obsess about the forecast¹. So when I just happened to check out the latest forecast discussion on NOAA, I was pleasantly surprised. I especially liked this part:

  A MUCH STRONGER SYSTEM WILL IMPACT THE REGION ON FRIDAY FOR 
  THE POTENTIAL FOR HEAVY SNOW IN THE MOUNTAINS AS WELL AS 
  COLDER WEATHER AND LOCALLY WINDY CONDITIONS.
Winter Forecast

7 Day Forecast for Crystal Mountain

Friday looks like our best chance for snow, with the forecast calling for 6-10″ up high and about 4-6″ down low. With strong west winds, we could pick up a little more than that in places like Green Valley Bowl. Saturday will bring some leftovers and orographic showers with Sunday now offering cold enough temperatures to add a little man made snow to the mix.

Already we have a 8-12″ base on the upper mountain, but need quite a bit more to open. It rained lightly yesterday, but not enough to melt what’s already in place. However, the rain hopefully helped to rid the growing snowpack of early season facets that could cause avalanche problems down the road.

24 Hour precipitation amounts ending Saturday

24 Hour precipitation amounts ending Saturday

People always ask John, “how much snow do you need to open?” The answer is always, “it depends.”

We always welcome a big November storm that deposits two feet of wet snow that compacts into a nice, smooth base. (Miles Clark over a snowbrains.com put out a nice post this week about why the PNW gets so much snow. The pattern mentioned in the article would be very welcome right about now.)

But this year we’ve had an accumulation of smaller amounts of snow that could add up to enough. Some of the long-term models are showing a low in the Gulf of Alaska, which could usher in those classic November storms we all like to see.

With “summer grooming” and strategic rock picking at Crystal, we try to set ourselves up for needing the least amount of snow possible to open. This could be one of those years where we get enough to open Green Valley, but have to wait for more snow to open the rest of the mountain. Only time will tell.

So start doing your snow dances and rubbing your Ullr pendants. Book that non-refundable trip to Mexico for Thanksgiving and stop washing your socks. We could use all the help we can get up here.

¹ Actually this is a complete lie.

First Snowfall at Big Sky

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You doesn’t love the first snow of the year? Raise your hand if you’re already jonesing for those first turns. I know I am.

Just Snowboarding at Night

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Want to hit the slopes in the dark? No need for a headlamp, just light your whole body. Not only is this short video stylish and beautiful, it’s pretty amazing. At first I figured the snowboarder, Will Hughes, must have memorized the slope, knowing he wouldn’t hit anything on a perfectly groomed slope. Then he heads towards the trees. And the powder. You have to check this out.

LED Snowboarder

Click to go to Jacob Sutton’s site and watch the video

The Return of Winter

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snow_forecast_weather

Snow for the foreseeable at Crystal

Several feet of snow forecast by next week

Several feet of snow forecast by next week

Winter is back. After over a month of spring-like weather in the Cascades, it looks like we are about to return to a cold, snowy forecast, and I, for one, am excited. Don’t get me wrong, a little sun and high pressure in the middle of the season can be a nice break. But now I’m ready for deep snow, light fluff and powder turns. Without this change in the weather, I might just continue to poke my fingers in other people’s eyes, and that’s not good for anybody.

Here’s the forecast:

Friday should be a pow storm day, with wind and sideways snow filling in tracks between laps. High wind could also shut down upper lifts, but with a little luck and a lot of snow, it could be stellar. Snow levels could go up to 4,000 feet, but that shouldn’t be a problem at Crystal. Fingers crossed on that.

Saturday will offer a brief break in the action, with another storm arriving Sunday. Beyond that, the NOAA forecast discussion is calling for continued stormy, cold weather with mountain snow. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

For more information on how to read the forecast and watch the telemetry check out How To Predict Good Snow Conditions.

The Best Part of Travel

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I love to travel. New sights, exotic foods, interesting conversations with strangers all stretch me a little.

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Niseko with Mt. Yotei in the background

Travel takes me out of my comfort zone, turns me upside down and gives me a shake until quarters (or perhaps yen coins) drop from my pockets.

I’m in Niseko on the Japanese island of Hokkaido in search of new experiences, legendary powder and the famous japanese powder trees. Excellent sushi, apres ski onsens (the japanese version of hot tubbing) and a lively little ski town doesn’t hurt either. We’ve been here for a week–hence the lack of new blog posts the past few days–and return today. Or tomorrow rather. We leave tomorrow and get back today. Or something like that. All I know is that we leave Sapporo at 2pm on Tuesday and arrive in Seattle at 8am the same day. It’s like a time machine. I’ve been playing Back to the Future in my head like an earworm, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads!”

Yesterday we skied at a tiny area with one lift used by the military for training. It is surrounded by easy access backcountry peaks carved against the backdrop of the Sea of Japan. After a short skin above the lift, we carved down a protected face of fresh snow, the stellar crystals glinting in the sunlight layering itself across the slope like curtains of light.

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Hot spring at the base of Chisenupuri

Lap after lap we found untracked turns, until we skied down to the onsen and lowered ourselves into the steamy, sulfurous water. Our Japanese friend Kenji claims the sulfur warms you to your bones and soothes sore muscles. He might be right about that.

Sometimes, though, the best part of travel is returning home. Seeing new places can offer fresh perspective, it can scrub away the jaded edges that form around familiar viewpoints. Maybe flying 4,000 miles to ski powder makes you that much happier to know its piling up at home, filling in the jibbed-out lines and

Chisenupuri

Chisenupuri with the Sea of Japan behind

resetting itself for your return. I appreciate more now the familiarity of skiing at home, knowing to ski Appliances when the wind blows from the south, how the sun and temperature affect particular lines, that the trees will protect the snow in Paradise when Exterminator, with a similar aspect, is burned to coral. That Powder Bowl stays dry and chalky even in the midst of record breaking inversion. That you can almost always find untracked lines beyond Boxcar.

I return now to yesterday, to the snow storm that’s blowing in Monday evening, even though its Tuesday morning here in Niseko. The sun is out here and it looks like a leftover kind of day. But yesterday it’s snowing at home.

Now all I need to do is channel some lighting into that flux capacitator and just maybe I can bring some of this japowder home with me.