Sunday, January 30, 2011

Arctic again?

i was prepared to talk about the great skiing, and then give an update tonight after a tour off the hill, but instead i sit at home and think about going to the wave for some exercise, and to not subject myself, and a lingering head cold to boot, to our fourth (or is it fifth) blast of arctic air. actually i am not sure if this is coming from the arctic, but it feels as though it is. with the wind and all

yesterday i took the am to go hit the track at stillwater. it was fantastic. when i hear of others carrying on about great groomed skiing, well, i just don't care. but getting onto a fresh groom on skate skis,now that is worthy. the course was beautiful even if the weather was not. just as i pulled into the parking lot, it started to rain. how many times has it rained this winter anyway? as another truck pulled in next to me, and we wondered if we would subject ourselves to the wet, i figured i had aleady driven the 20 minutes, i certainly deal with 30 of being wet. and then the rain stopped. it was fantastic. i kept it under an hour just so i could get in a full afternoon on the hill.

the hill was nearly empty on a saturday, so unusual. sure, we were fogged in, but it was snowing and the skiing was great. i can deal with those conditions way better than negative 300 with the wind chill going up the lift. later i heard the canyon and beyond were skiing great, having held up well thru the later week's warm temps. i was quite excited for today. and although i am sure there were many good turns to be had, i just was not ready to face this weather for a full 4-6 hours, so made the call by 8am.

now we get to wait and see how this wind changes safety.

once again, the proof of an adage an oldtimer told me years ago here, when the skiing is great, you had better go get it, because more than anywhere else,it czn change in a day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

great snow

after that bad rain about a week ago, creating as thick an ice layer you can find in a snowpack, but not as thick as the ice on beaver lake, the addition of new snow accompanied by some wind caused some appreciable avalanche conditions. but ss the snow continued to fall, it has more or less bonded with with ice layer, that has for the most bridged over previous bad layers.

so the skiing is great. avoiding wind deposits and rollovers should keep the traveller safe, and the rest is pure bliss. hopefully the warmish temps of wed and thurs will not too harshly affect this. because we found some very deep, very easy to ski, very fun snow on tuesday, and are looking forward to our next day out, either tomorrow or saturday.

Monday, January 24, 2011


as i sit writing, looking out my window as some new snow starts up here monday afternoon, i can only hope it continues to drop and build up for a nice mid week powder day. unfortunately i am house bound due to a head cold that just will not go away, and really attacked last night. savage.

the new snow seems to have settled well, and i don't really want to say it has bonded onto that super hard rain layer, it seems ok. not sure i will be jumping on top of any big pillows or steep shots, but there is some good powder skiing to be done. just part of a wacky winter.

i heard of a few good adventures, with mostly powder turns and not much movement in the snowpack.

winter carnival is coming up in less than two weeks. that always provides a few laughs, as does the horse pull coming up this weekend. it does not seem like there is really ever a break from some kind of event. just when you might think it is time to relax... but, how does the saying go?, "you can sleep when you are old."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

roller coaster

yep, that is our winter. a huge roller coaster ride. sub zero one day, perhaps rain a day or two later. some clear skis, some deep snow, but nothing has stayed consistent for more than 3 days. probably the most consistent weather has been the cold snaps, that have come often and stayed for about 3 days each.

if any of you read an earlier post, pre-ski season, about the "la nina" forecast and its likely affects, you might be wondering, "why all the rain". Me too. but it is only a forecast of likely conditions. it also discussed how to look at it like a deck of cards. a la nina winter was likely to have more aces come up. and this year, there might have even been more than four aces in the deck. well, so far, we have seen an ace or two, but just when you thought another had been turned up, after closer examination, it was a joker. a joker, for the card player, can be used as any card. but this deck is not actually in our hands, but being played out before us. so the determination of the joker is not up to us. otherwise, all the rain would be snow, we would have three feet in our yards, and not have ice on our driveways. (anyone else skating to their car or work?).

so perhaps the deck still has the extra aces and a few jokers looking our way. it is still early in winter, so no time to panic, just time to search the north sides for powder, be extra aware as new snow falls, and take what the heavens provide, because we can do nothing else.

and as i look out the window, i see some flurries beginning. hopefully the forecast of snow will prevail. sometimes our more sublime forecasts turn out to be our best.

lastly, i have not seen many (okay, none) comments or stories or reports. i hope you folks are still reading and getting out there. i have been out of town quite a bit of late, and sure could use some feedback and info. thanks.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

third time's a charm?

yep, we are entering our third sub zero temps snap of the season. i am sure there are more on the way.

no doubt skiing has been great, but i am glad i did not hear the term "epic" bandied about. the snow came in wet and heavy, and set up quick, making the ten new ski more like four. the beauty is, things are so filled in now, once the snowpack settles with this cold weather, and bonds, the backcountry could be just that, epic. but with high winds, snow loads could also be epic. multiple accidents occured in the snowmobiler's country, with one dead. i guess it is not the time to go jumping on cornices and convex rollovers.

with the mountain one hundred percent open, and the t-bar running, the high crowds of a saturday did not seem too overwhelming, unless you got caught in the 9ish traffic. otherwise, lines were minimal, given a ten inch saturday. and for those that skied into the canyon, snow was deep and seemed to be stable.

still, i have to wonder where the "3 feet in three days" came from. the big mountain website says 30 inches in the last 7 days, and my count from the phone line was 24 inches in three days (wed am to sat am). i do not think you can add the overnight+24 hour+daytime=total. just each 24 hour day added to the next.

personally, i am not sure how i am going to approach this weather. with high winds and cold temps, the skiing could be fantastic, but nervy in the BC, and below frigid on the chair lift. but it is beautiful out, and there sure is a lot of new snow, regardless how one does their accounting.

see you somewhere.

Friday, January 7, 2011

warming, then cooling

i asked for the skies to open up, and they seem to have done so. sure, it is not 10 plus a night, but with 2-6/nite, this is sometimes our best conditions. just keep accumlating a bit every night until there is knee deep everywhere.

okay so it is raining, and pretty hard. with luck, the la nina effect will keep temps just below freezing up in the high country. then, with the cooling trend about to set in, we might get a nice light snow on top of this heavy stuff. perfect!

after nearly a year of not skiing, due to a back injury that finally necessitated surgury, my wife, MA, has finally made it up on the hill again, and is loving it. today will be the third in a row, and if it is not tooooooo heavy, we will have a good afternoon, and go into the weekend feeling great.

i know that nw montana has some pretty wild weather (an old buddy of mine said of all the places he had lived and skied, including Vt. Utah, Wa. Co., this was the only place where the old expression "if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute" was actually true), but this winter seems really inconsistent. and this weekend seems set to continue that trend. temps warming thru the week, with a nice storm cycle, following over two weeks of very dry and mostly cold, here comes some more cold weather. just bouncing all over the place. as i look outside, it is raining and foggy. after a week in colorado, i remember why it became so popular back in the 60's - 90's, and why so many of us here thought it would never get popular or crowded here.

yesterday, while skiing, i noticed another thing that always makes me wonder. people who stop in places that are as likely as any to get them hurt. places that have a lot of traffic with little room to move and get out of each other's way. the worst is the traverse that comes out on top of the face and the beginning of inspiration. another is the end of Russ's St., just above the bottom chair one and four. and is it my imagination, or just my slight prejudice towards boarders, but the majority of these offenders of this dangerous policy seem to be the aforementioned SNOWBOARDERS! and given that quite often when they come to rest,they do so on their butts, taking up more room and making themselves less mobile. come on, fellow boarders, help these unknowing nincompoops a little advice, since certainly they will not listen to a crotchety old time skier like myself. thanks.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

happy new year and new snow

well, apparently the snow gods decided to wait for my wife and i to finish our travels and come home before opening up. i hope they unless the goods over the next several weeks.

we had a great trip to colorado, which has also had a fair amount of new snow, once you get past the front range. i got in a day at Arapahoe Basin, which is still a fantastic place to ski. the rumors before we got there were that it had gotten a bit warm, and perhaps we would be skiing scratchy, ice resurfaced snow. at 11000 +feet, on a mostly north facing slope. i could not believe it. and it was not true. the skiing was great. firm, mid winter snow pack. i think they are a bit spoiled up in their high country and need a blast of some real winter freeze like we often get when we get our annual rain to the top of the hill.

so without much new snow around here, i am guessing it has been pretty safe. i have not gotten any scary avy reports or incidents, so hope all has been a safe and happy holiday.

now come on skies, open up and unleash!!!!!!!!!!