Tag Archives: Snow

Opening Day


3″ of new snow overnight

Crystal opens today. Overnight we picked up another 3″ of snow, and it is currently snowing hard. Green Valley skied very well yesterday with plenty of coverage. About 7″ of snow now covers over the crust from Monday’s warmup, and yesterday afternoon the skiing was good. According to Martin Rand, the valley was “fabulous”. The lower mountain is pretty thin, however.

The plan for the rest of the mountain is to get it open as soon as possible. I imagine the coverage in Northway is plenty deep, and I hope to be on the crew of evaluating the terrain later today.

Yesterday my mom called me to ask if, “it would be worth it to come up for opening day.” I answered her with an emphatic, “yes”. The upper mountain came through very well in these storms. The warmer temperatures deposited some heavy, wet glop that has covered over the rocks and grass nicely. Now, with the snow from yesterday and last night, we should be in for a great first day.

See you all on the slopes.


Crystal Opens Wednesday


After a nail biting night, I woke to mixed rain and snow at the base of Crystal this morning. When he got in a snowcat this morning, John wasn’t sure what he’d find in the higher elevations. The telemetry in Green Valley showed a little over a foot of snow in the past 24 hours. Not quite enough to open. You can imagine his surprise when he got up higher and had a hard time keeping the tiller above the snow level.

John Kircher buried up to his waist

At midmountain, John jumped out to test the depth of the snow and was buried to his waist.

Needless to say, he was pretty stoked. He called me not very long after to say, “You wouldn’t believe it. Somehow it snowed five feet up here!”

Sometimes I love it when the telemetry is wrong. Most likely the high winds last night blew the snow around, but not onto, the stake. There is probably a huge drift a few feet away while the snow stake is relatively free of snow.

So the 2012-13 season begins at Crystal. See you all up here on Wednesday. Check the website for details.

A word about Avalanche Hazard. Today and tomorrow there will be no avalanche mitigation. The avalanche hazard is high.  Uphill travel on or under steep slopes is not recommended. In addition, consider that this is great “base building” snow. It is very thick and heavy: perfect for making a solid base; not so perfect for powder turns. Be careful out there.

I’m Not Going to Jinx It


I’ve been knocking on so much wood the past few days that my knuckles are raw. The weather forecast looks extremely promising for snow starting this weekend. If all the forecast wishes come true, we could pick up plenty of snow to open by Thanksgiving. But then again, the snow level could be too high. Crystal could get blocked. It could rain on Tuesday. The GFS model is especially keen on this probability. Doesn’t the GFS know we are trying to open a ski area here? Sheesh.

Still, my hopes are up. Tuesday is a million years away in forecast terms. Instead, I’m banking on the Sunday-night-into-Monday-morning resolution shown in the graph below. Purples and reds mean 8-12 inches. That orangish color around Paradise? That’s 16 inches for the 24 hour period.

24 Hour Snowfall Prediction for Monday Morning

Skiing by Thanksgiving just might be in the cards. I’m not an especially superstitious person. But if I thought that not changing my socks or never stepping on the threshold of the door while exiting the house or even washing my hands five times before doing anything would make it snow, I would happily become OCD just for the cause. I just haven’t found a reliable ritual yet. This is the Pacific Northwest after all. The weather is a crapshoot. Temperatures fluctuate like the nozzle of an unattended firehouse.

But when it is good, it is very very good. If we get the goods this weekend with no gully washers in sight, my prediction is we’ll be skiing soon (and by soon, I mean next week. And by next week, I mean Wednesday or Thursday). Hope to see you all on the slopes. Fingers crossed.

The Waiting Game


Around my house, we are playing a waiting game. We are waiting for the ski season to start. Specifically, we are waiting to see if the storms will line up in the Pacific and bring enough snow to open the slopes. The forecast models show some promise. The snow currently on the ground is encouraging. We have six inches of solid base material up high–a mix of styrofoam and crust layers. It’s the kind of snow you wouldn’t want to ski, but nicely covers over the rocks and stumps and creek beds. Currently (as of 8 am Tuesday morning) it is starting to snow lightly–just a little chicken dandruff to tease me.

I’m not going to obsess over this.

Really. I’m not.

I want to believe

But waiting is hard. If all goes according to the forecast, we could get a few storms starting this weekend. The question remains to be the snow level. Luckily, we have the gondola. That means if we get enough snow in Green Valley, we could open the upper mountain. Granted, we’d rather open it all up at once.

So for now it’s a waiting game. On the other hand, Winter Storm Brutus dumped a few feet of snow at Brighton and it opens today. Cypress Mountain opens tomorrow. Maybe time for a road trip.

Who’s Ready For Winter?


Ready for snow

Ski Patrol training week starts tomorrow, and yesterday a patroller friend of mine told me she wasn’t ready for the season to start. Not ready? I was dumbfounded. Granted, she just returned from her “summer” job fighting wildland fires. It was a long season for her. Usually she has a quiet shoulder season to prepare for winter. But still. A part of me wonders if Ullr was listening. I certainly hope not.

Perhaps it was our early season snow that kindled my enthusiasm. The ski season was in our grasp. Just a few more inches (well, more like 15″, I’m exaggerating) and we’d be open.

Crystal Avi Dogs, Ari and Kayla, are ready for ski season

In case we forgot, this is what “significant snowfall” looks like

Now, after some warm rain all that snow has melted. It’s a bummer, but I tell myself that it’s still early. Thanksgiving is still weeks away. Besides, I have a book proposal to work on and several articles to write. I’m busy, for God’s sake. I should be using this time to frantically finish all these projects.

This morning, in the NOAA forecast discussion, the meteorologists mentioned some magical words in the long-term forecast:  “significant snowfall in the mountains.” Can there be any words sweeter than these? I love the way the words

A girl can dream



“significant snowfall” feel in my mouth–the alliteration is poetic, the image is pure bliss. Significant snowfall means large flakes the size of ten-year-olds falling from a steel gray sky. It means a white duvet covering the browning grass and jagged rocks. It means pointing skis downhill, picking up speed and leaning into the turns, one after the next until your smile freezes in place.

Next week could be the week folks. I know its a long ways out. Long-term forecasts are more about hope than facts. But right now, that’s all we’ve got.

Early Season Snow


We have received our first snow at Crystal Mountain. So often, we call snow “a blanket”. But it is more like frosting on an amateur’s cake–at times very thick and at others paper thin. This first layer of snow covered over the stumps and lumpy bits of ground. Skiing is just around the corner.

(Still) The Last Bits of Summer


Late summer sun gets a (skier’s) thumbs up!

I’ve been telling my husband that the PNW is known for its “Indian Summers”. Sure, June can come in like a bag of cats. And go out like a bag of cats that’s been closed for 30 days, but woo boy. Just you wait until September. Late summer, skipping the hump over the equinox into shorter days, sunsets like neopolitan ice cream, these all wait for us. If only we are patient.

This is my story, and I’m sticking with it. Up until this year, however, my husband thought I was crazy. Up until the 2012 end-of-summer-beginning-of-autumn, I didn’t have much of an argument. But he’s admitted it now. I was right. Sometimes September can rock. Every once in a while, the air stays warm, a high pressure sets up, and we feel vindicated for foggy June.

Best of all, this post-summer warmth staves off the early winter blues. It makes the wait for winter easier. Because there is nothing worse than rain in Seattle when we know it is not snowing in the mountains. The mountains, and their plentiful snowfall, is what make winters here tolerable. I’m not sure how regular people (the one’s that don’t ski or ride and don’t think a surprise snowfall in the city is awesome, because they actually have to go to work anyways) survive the winter. If I didn’t ski, the rain and the incessant storms would be pointless.

How do you like September now?

And in other news, its started snowing in Montana. Specifically Big Sky, Montana. Check out the tramcam to see for yourself. These first snowfalls of the year (already hit Utah and Colorado last month) are what bring the “stoke”.

(This is a far over-used word, and should now only be used by industry marketing departments. Or maybe not even them. Presumably it means that these photos stoke the fire of last season’s enthusiasm. That the embers have continued smoldering over the summer, and now are being blown back into a conflagration.)

This isn’t a bad metaphor. But it’s become a cliche. Free copy of my book to anyone who can come up with a better metaphor/incantation for building enthusiasm. I’m all ears. Let’s replace this one before it gets really old.

Also, winter forecasters are calling it a Maybe-Not-So-El-Nino season. Some are leaning towards a weak El Nino or possibly a neutral year. Neutral is usually good for us. Very weak El Nino’s tend to be decent as well. Our biggest storm events have happened on neutral years.

So we have that going for us. Which is nice.