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Fog.....

Sometimes, it’s hard to see that you NEED to go skiing. Like when there’s a ton of life issues that need to be taken care of, I forget that skiing is the great stress reliever, good for your health both physically and mentally, and although non-skiers don’t get it, something your brain needs. The motivation is tough for me to go solo. One of the life events the last week was Amigoette having foot surgery nipping the rest of her ski season and hopefully ending her pain, once rehab is over, of a recalcitrant foot bone. Said bone is now resting in the hospital medical waste bin - good riddance.

So I popped onto the New Short Commute this morning only to be greeted by a very large piece of earth moving equipment heading flatbed bound up 410 at 20 mph. When they finally pulled off, likely to do some clear cut logging road improvement, the rest of my unaffiliated Crystal commuters couldn’t find the GO pedal and took the next 20 miles to get up to speed. I almost made it to first chair…

Into the Mist

Into the Mist

But…. It was still hard to see that I needed to ski - literally. A thick, no very thick, fog obscured everything above 5,5,00’. Even Memorial’s trees weren’t enough to shed visibility. Doors One, Two, and 3.5 had a little vis. Even Door Three was too wide for the trees to improve my vision. The snow was nice packed powder interspersed with some styrosnow and pockets of loose fluff. BUT, a 3-day weekend of people in over their heads in thick fog had claimed the whole Frontside with continuous traverse lines. Made for a very choppy ride when you could see. And when you couldn’t.

View of Powder Bowl

View of Powder Bowl

Oh well, maybe Bear Pits. After a blind traverse, Bear Pits was steep enough, narrow enough, and treed enough that the hordes either stayed away or were locked out of traversing. Wohoo! So, I alternated Bear Pits and Outer Ferk’s for the rest of the day. I wanted to head north, maybe Exterminator, maybe Northway…. The fog actually grew thicker by the hour so I stuck to the snow and vis of BP and OF.

Never a lift wait, it was fly into the rope area at 20mph and right onto the next chair. Only rode with one other person all day, another Bear Pitter. Only saw a few other off-pisters, no other repeaters. Most of the crowd was families with youngsters out of school for the week. By late morning, they were all getting pizza and beer - the adults that is. Kids seem to be more into fries and coke.

So, I counted the Rex rides till I got to 15 and the fog got foggier, the weather got snowier, and the brain got lonelier. I’d done what needed to be done, turn the week’s stress into concentration on steep soft bumps, shove the worries aside so you don’t dig a tip or hit a tree, and for me anyway, use a large shot of adrenaline to calm the soul. A very quick drive home didn’t hurt either.

Ken

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POW!

I was marginally excited to go today. Reports of wind-scoured ice sunday and only 4-5 “ new were blown away by the 10” new reported this morning. And speaking of blown away, those in the know knew where all the snow that was on the ice went. Game on.

Three warm up laps on Memorial found excellent snow, but over a hard icy base. Hitting bottom a lot, I wished I had enough of a ski brain to this morning to throw the wider boards in the car. Then I realized my Aftershocks used to be my wide ski. Compensating with speed gave me the float I needed to start having fun.

Trying to stay one step ahead of the powder seekers I took an early trip to Exterminator. Hide and seek with yesterday’s wind blown away snow was over. Deeper and softer underneath and taking last year’s newly found stash area gave me mostly untracked to Lower E.

Then the Northway light turned green and….. It’s gotten harder and harder to keep ahead of the crowd. Best advice - when tracks head left, or right, or straight ahead, take the other route and see what you find. I found my normal haunts deep and untracked. Northway snow was deeper and over a very skiable crunch. The crunch didn’t matter much, the new-plus-blown-in was deep enough I rarely hit bottom. Being sneaky, making sure no one was watching, I took my lefts, rights, and straights through my favorite line - linking bowls, trees, chutes, and bumps (OK, the bumps are the bottom Chairline bumps). It took me 5 laps to track it up. With no lift line it was ski right onto the chair for the next lap. But the hordes were coming north losing skis in the pow, getting stuck, falling down, and hooting in the now tracked powder. So, a good time was had by all.

Bliss on the other side of the rollover. Entry to Sphincterville

Bliss on the other side of the rollover. Entry to Sphincterville

And then Employee Housing iced the pow-cake. The new snow made I-5 a little slow, but not as slow and the snowboarders post holing back.

The drive up was snow the whole way. Unfortunately there were some drivers that missed snow-driving class and thought the best plan was to just go slow, really slow. And never pull over to let the mile of cars behind you go by. The passing lane hadn’t been plowed so the Turboru got it’s own face shoots as puffs of snow would billow over the hood. Luckily got by everyone before The Boulevard. A huge pack of cars came up behind, getting stuck, slipping around, and not knowing where to park. Hmmm. Sounds like the late arrivers to Northway.

Snow all the way down to The Claw were it was raining with no snow on the road. It’ll be a nice sheet of black ice tomorrow. Even more snow on the way tonight and tomorrow. Oh, based on the number of people digging for skis, powder cords would be a good idea.

Ken

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What you get

I had very low hopes for today. With temps at 7 degrees this morning I bundled up expecting to rattle down some icy groomers for a few hours and head home. It was a cold and horizon to horizon to horizon to horizon clear morning. The snow was firm, but a Valley Bowl showed some promise of maybe some north-facing fun. Iceberg was kinda capable and showed the promise of overly fast skidding fun. Well, maybe fun. WIth freezing faces and noses, we completed the first round of runs enjoying unexpected bundled-up warm and glad the wind was from the west.

With no rhyme or reason, some north facing aspects were slightly rugged packed pow with some light stuff on top with only the occasional hit of skidded ice. Some were wind-crust, rain-crust, and gnarly shaped moguls of doom. In the good category were Valley Bowl, Upper Powder Bowl, Paradise Bowl, Bruces Bowl, Snorting Elk Bowl, and… Guess The Bowls win. On the hard kinda-carvable groomer end of the scale were Iceberg, Luckyshot, Lower Valley, Lower Bull Run. And we found some one-run-and-out stay-away zones - Bear Pits, Grubstake, Frontside, Northway Chairline Bumps.

A little skier grooming would have improved a lot of places - I wasn’t the one to spend my day smoothing out the chunks for tomorrow. By mid-day, it had warmed enough, 12°, to not freeze my face off on the tucks - which was nice. Knowing it was a day and forecast where you would have to just make the best of it, I was pleasantly surprised. Glad I listened to my ski buds and took a chance.

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Continued cold, very cold, for the next few days, at least. Light moisture, maybe a little more at Crystal. Deteriorating weather will not be good as the visibility suffers and limits the options.

Ken

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Frontside!

Nothing beats a spring day in january. 52°, WTF. After hitting the cycle exactly wrong the last couple times, I finally nailed.

If you’re reading this for conditions report for the next few days, spoiler alert, it will suck, capital S, Suck.

I got the last day of this weird warm pattern and today was the warmest. Fooled by the cold east wind before, I was a little worried by the forecast. Happily, it was warm from the get-go with soft groomers for the first run. Valley Bowl was hard, but seek out the middle line, and stay there, and it was quite skiable. AND THEN, the Frontside went off. Started with Gully-Gully, then Sunnyside, Breakover, Breakover Gully, and Showtime. Took off the coat, heavy gloves, at 10:00. Sunglasses required.

It was a mental game. Unfortunately, the rest of the ski gang was offline today and I was on my own. There’s been a lot of entries on the Snowind calendar the last 3 months and my brain has been more into Do Lists and .... other things than looking for a fast smooth line down a steep mogul face. The moguls were big, firm, and didn’t move. But, there was a nice 3-4 inches of soft slush on top for your downhill pleasure. Might have just been my pleasure as there weren’t many takers on the Frontside, and fewer repeaters. I loved it. After the first few runs, the need to focus on grabbing the next gravity-slowing bump, keep in the zipper line, and suck up the next mogul face cleansed the mind of interfering thoughts and let the skis run free. It was all good and The Zone felt great.

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The future looks grim. Everything that got sun or was out of the wind turned to slush today. The rest was an icy mess. Tomorrow’s warm temps and precip translate to light rain and the dropping temps late friday mean nasty ice and frozen coral heads off piste. Groomers will be ice rinks. It will take a lot of new snow to erase the effects of this week of warm weather. Maybe see you in a week?

Ken

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No Heat

I wanted to believe the most optimistic of the weather forecasts that today would be mild winds and warm. Although the weather was beautiful for sight seeing, it was not what the snow needed. Temps had dropped overnight and everything was a frozen wasteland, or an ice rink. A moderate east wind and slight haze over the sun kept it that way. A few groomers were mildly carvable for awhile, but even the very small group of participants quickly scoured it down.

So, we raced/skidded/rattled down the few groomers for awhile. There was one small section of Green Valley in the shade that was loose enough to be fun. Mostly, cold with loud scrapping sounds. I thought the one area, out of the wind and low on the mountain where it was warmer, would be worth a try. Sluiceway and Berry Patch were horrible. Lower E unsociable frozen moguls. That did in Amigoette’s sore foot and uninspired my less than enthused mindset for icy groomers and we called it a day.

If the heat comes back tomorrow as forecasted and the wind stays light, it should be a completely different mountain. Only snow of lots of sun fixes this kinds of snow.

Ken

New Commute

A day late on the report ‘cause conditions didn’t matter with today’s rain event kicking in.

Amigoette and I have finally moved into the new Snowind North location (north compared to the Summer Playground) One of the reasons for moving was to be closer to Crystal Mountain. I now have a much nicer, 35 minute shorter each way ski drive. And now that remodeling, talking to banks, moving furniture, hucking boxes is over, we can actually take advantage of the shorter commute and go skiing.

After spending the last 3 months in constant motion working down the Do-List, it took awhile to get my head back in the ski game. I didn’t forget any equipment which was my first worry. The legs felt OK. I guess hauling boxes up and down stairs is a pretty good ski workout. Averaged 5-6 miles and 40 flights of stairs a day over a week of loading and unloading trucks. What I lacked was mental focus. Thoughts of the choir list kept intruding. The snow was pretty funky. Soft and heavy in places. Almost slushy feeling just before an icy patch. And ruts that were now firmer than when people laid them down. I found ducking into steeper and narrower terrain brought things in focus as I rattled through the ruts. It only took a couple near high-side edge catches to jog my brain back into the ski routines. Pretty soon I found I’d smoothed some nice lines down Memorial, Bear Pits, and Valley Bowl. Groomers were smooth and carved nicely, but easy enough my mind would wander.

Freezing goggle-fog up top, poor visibility, and deteriorating weather drove me off the slopes. I’d done what needed to be done - got back in ski mode. I had to spin a celebratory doughnut in the empty F-Lot on the way down. Crystal should add a rally car course.

Rain today almost to the top. Lowering temps tonight and sun for the next days. Not sure how it will pan out. I’ll be back soon and hopefully often

Ken

Take What You Can Get

After a stressful week of hour-long drives to sign papers, life finally paused long enough for Amigoette and I to grab a quick trip to the mountain. With clear morning skies and a forecast of a sunny day, we thought we had lucked out with a beautiful day to grab the holiday crowd’s leftovers. Not so fast said god as he rolled back the weather into one of the weirdest dark cloud patterns I’ve seen.

The New Year’s Day crowd musta really partied for New Year’ Eve as the slopes (and drive up) was barely inhabited for our morning runs. But later…… What we thought would be a sunny day looked like a really bad bruise. Deep, dark blue/black and cold. We couldn’t read the Frontside snow from the chair, so opted for a Valley-Berg starter. Nice packed pow bumps in the Valley led to a smooth, firm, but carvable Iceberg. Each turn wiped the carvable stuff off The Berg exposing the ever popular rain-ice Iceberg is known for. There was a fine line between smooth packed pow bumps and crispy not-skied-enough junk. We learned that lesson on Memorial. Luckyshot remained fast and carvable till late morning as the party night crowd finally arrived to clog up its skidded crust.

Actually, this is a color image

Actually, this is a color image

Valley Bowl delivered all day on the north facing bumps. Grubstake was a hoot and was the only run that really got the blood pumping. C-3 Chairline remained soft and malleable to a firmly controlled ski. One T2B out The Gap alternated soft packed-powder bumps - Green Valley, crunchy lumps - Sluiceway, soft bumps - Berry Patch, smooth very icy bumps - Lower E. So, Valley Bowl, C-3 Chairline, Grubstake, interspersed with some who-know-where-they’re-going bogey dodging on Luckyshot.

After dawn to dusk prep days for buying a new house, remodeling the old, and paperwork, we knew today would be a short interlude. Although, with nobody on the hill and 10 minute Rex round trips, we did pile in some runs in our short window. By late morning the hordes had arrived and the lodges were packed. As we drove away, there was a line of cars looking for parking spots and a thousand cars coming up 410 for a… What? 2:00 ski start? A tourist Gondola ride into the black fog? Who are these people?

The Moral of the Story -

When life gets busy, take every opportunity to get some fun, some exercise, and some focused steep, mind-altering snow. Sometimes the details can wait, sometimes they can’t and you need to take care of business, but sometimes they can. Getting out into the mountains, even in weirdly dark bruised skies, was a refreshing mind cleansing. Get it when you can and take what you get. It’ll be good for your brain.

Unfortunately, snow levels rise tomorrow as precipitation moves in thursday. Timing will tell whether it’s rain up the mountain or a big wet dump of base-building snow. Keep an eye on the weather, timing, and the january weekend crowds.

Ken

Eve Special

Christmas came a day early. The first surprise was clear sunny skies. Under my favorite blue, the snow was soft cut boot-top powder over a surprisingly easy skiing foot of crunch leftovers. Frost the whole mountain with 4” of new and it skied about 100 times better than it looked.

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Our first turns were flying onto Sunnyside, living up to its name, where the turns were so easy no slowing down required. The Doors, Memorial, and Breakover the same. After a long summer and a self-imposed late start to the winter season, it felt wonderful to be in the groove. Steep, soft, go-for-it snow. Legs that where at full power (for now), and of course, full on sun never hurts.

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Powder Main Chute was untracked onto deep pillows of cut new. The rock lined edges made the early-season narrowness extra exciting. The payback for precision was huge grins that lasted to the bottom of Bear Pits. I had heard good things about Employee Housing. They weren’t lying. Soft and fluffy up high, packed pow in the middle, no heaviness down low. Only a smattering of spindly bush tops at the bottom. I5 was I5ish… I’ve skied it when it was worse. Top of Chair 6 is very rocky. Sideslippers exposed most of the entries. 

Bummer of the day was a 30 minute ride up Rex which included a 25 minute stop. As we sat, a cool fog started blowing in from the east filtering the sun. Thinking Luckyshot would loosen the stiff, cold joints from the long sit was wrong. After all the steep soft runs, it just felt firm, skidded, and…. it was time to go.

The groomed snow was packing and firming. The cats will freshen it tonight some. The off-piste was skiing out, but will be some nice packed pow for awhile. Santa will be a day late, not bringing new snow till wednesday.

Ken

Finally

Wondering where I’ve been? Me too. It’s been a hectic time of remodeling to sell our house, banks, builders, and of course, christmas. Long story very short, today was my opening day skiing. And a good day it was.

It’s been like have a “real” job again and made me wonder, the annual wonder, if I was up to the ski-task, questioning my mental and physical abilities to do this sport. This unplanned late entry into the ski season worked out great. Best coverage and conditions for a first day in memory. Thanks to all that came up when only the bunny hill (do they still call it that) was open. And those that dinged rocks and weird snow till all, almost all, the chair where opened. My first run of the year was untracked new snow down Sunnyside. Yes, I can do this.

I took my rock skis, rock coat, rock helmet, rock pants, and rock long underwear. Mostly to go old school as only one slight rock hit - no damage - entering Powder Bowl was it. The snow was nice where untracked, a little chunky when slightly tracked out, and then nice again when more tracked out. You could definitely feel the heaviness below 6K feet and from Rex down it packed very firm by days end. Best runs of the day were Grubstake, Valley Bowl, and Powder Bowl. Although the line on Chair 6, the official new name now, deterred us from a second PB run.

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With the storm coming in tomorrow everything will change. The snow level looks to rise putting down some significant base building snow up high, some ice producing rain down low. Take your chances on friday, I hope to. Disclaimer - evaluate the snow level thursday as the huge snow level drop friday may just bring icy weirdness.

More in depth reporting upcoming.

Ken

Spring?

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It looks like we may have skied the last day of spring. Finally, a sunny, warm day to soften the snow. Unfortunately, yesterday’s heavy pow day meant off-piste went quickly from frozen junk to chunky glop. But not before we perfectly timed a few Frontside blast in surprisingly skiable weirdness. Until…. Showtime went over to the Dark Side of thick, unconsolidated gunk.

In the morning ice, we searched for smooth grooming. Not to be found up high as Iceberg and Luckyshot had not been groomed. Forest Queen was smoothly groomed and softening early in a lower altitude, low slope angle way. In a Crystal Mountain saving money kinda way, the Campbell Lodge was closed up tight - even the bathrooms. So, after a couple fast low excitement runs, we went back up top.

Got a few Valley Bowl runs in during the Goldilocks soft period (it got weird thereafter) as the now full-on sun made us dump our coats, vests, gloves, goggles, and don Hawaii shirt that has not got much play time this year. We then found out where the groomers had been. Snorting Elk Bowl, Sluiceway, Berry Patch, and re-building the Kelly’s Gap Road after Rockface’s coating of wet new snow slide massively. And we found, again, the savior Run-of-the-day.

Soft and carvable, we turned the smooth grooming into ditches and bumps. Lower E was, again, the high point for the big soft mogul crowd. “The Crowd” was 3 of us. Over and over. The same crowd that was on the Frontside earlier. Where was everyone? Iceberg it turned out. The Berg was soft, in between ice patches, and like a game of Frogger dodging scared left/right skiers as we tried to go down. It’s called Downhill Skiing….  Back to Our Run (no claims of ownership involved), we ran out the day.

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This will likely end my ski season, a great ending it will be, as the next 7-day forecast doesn’t look good. I’m hanging it up. Amigoette and I are packing for a month of hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and snorkeling in Peru, Galapagos, and Ecuador. 

Kkz

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Forecast

The next 7 days are forecast to be warm and wet. If it cools off, Crystal will be ugly frozen junk. If it stays warm, rain. Maybe next week some dryer, soft days will happen. New snow will not be your friend and just turn to wet glob like today. Rain may smooth things out and consolidate the junky off-piste. Grab the next warmish sunny day and pretend it’s spring.

Rat Wheel

Rats don’t run in their wheel because they think it’s fun. They do it because that’s all that’s available in their cage. We were caged in by horrible frozen junk off-piste and hard icy groomers in every direction. After some quick poking around we found all the groomers: Iceberg, Luckyshot, Downhill, were hard ice covered in acres of ice balls. Ice so hard, the groomers didn’t even leave a mark on Iceberg (Not So Lucky Shot wasn’t groomed). It only took one ski length off the groomed to cross off any hope of skiing off piste.

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Full on sun and blue sky on our first upload gave, falsely, promise of maybe some Frontside softening we could beat into skiable submission. Not to happen, however, as a high haze and an unfortunate cloud blocked the sun and put us in no-softening mode. Our first lucky run call was a very IcyBerg to Lower Bull Run. Lower Bull was one of only two runs that softened. A couple low level runs down Bull got the ski ball rolling (that doesn’t even make sense…. ) and oddly, the next-door ungroomed Deerfly was horrible crunch. Then we decided to get on the wheel in the corner of our rat cage as it’s proven to be a good spin when the conditions are dicey.

We dove into Snorting Elk Bowl, it had been groomed, and the part that everyone wasn’t skiing, was 2” of softness for our carving pleasure over the firm base. Sluiceway was the skidded ice we left on thursday, but skiable. Berry Patch had the one line we’d smoothed out before - and one was all we needed. Lower E was the second of today’s Soft-Run awards. Huge nicely shaped bumps soft enough to go full on old-school bump skiing. Fun enough that we exited the rat wheel and rode up for another.

Run of the day

Run of the day

At noon, we grabbed our packs and were ready to head for home, as it was obvious that nothing was going to get softer. That did the trick and the sun came back out. Berry Patch was just soft enough to get us off the one line we’d been skiing, and Lower E went off. We re-stashed the packs and kept going. They added a bunch of slalom gates, maybe people frozen in place scared of the ice, on S-Elk Bowl. Sluiceway softened enough to get into the bumps and off the ice-line. Berry Patch loosened just enough to match Amigoette’s fast line without jittering my back to complaining. Lower E became more of a hoot. An hour and a half later, after our 13th Top-to-Bottom, we called it good and stepped off the rat wheel and exited the cage. What had started as mundane T2B cycles ended with two wide smiles. More people need to learn how to ski bumps, big bumps.

Kkz

Forecast

Bad news. No dry warm weather for…… awhile. The cool down will not be pleasant for the next couple days, maybe a week. There might be a few inches of new snow by monday, but feet are needed to cover the frozen junk. There’s a lot of NWS “models disagree” going on so it’s a day-to-day check in. Only sunny and warm will work.  

One Trick

Lucky I had some good Ski Amigos today. One, I could follow them and get a slight idea of what I was approaching in some of the worst fog ever skied. Two, they made me not want to be the one who gives up and goes home, so I stayed for the 3 hours it took for the weather to clear enough to find that one good run.

Horribly foggy from midway up, it was a gray day. Gray as in pitch fucking gray. Gray as in I can’t see the edge of the cat track. Gray as in I’ve haven’t seen so many spots in my vision before. Gray as in was that ice, or did my ski fall off. Gray as in Auntie Em, there’s no place like home. Ever wonder on the way down if infrared night vision goggles worked for skiing? I could probably get some on eBay. Was that a person or a tree? Where am I? I’ll ask my buds what run we just skied, maybe they know.

From the start, it was obvious that anything off piste was a no-go danger zone of frozen breakable crust and frozen junk. (spoiler, later some of it turned into thick, gloppy mashed potatoey…. stuff.) But, maybe I make it sound worse than it was. We did have some fun trying to figure out which way the runs went and where the edge of the grooming was, and when it was safe to “tuck it” for the bottom (actually no tucking involved - usually just point in the direction you thought the lift was and hope). Since the fog was up-side-down and clearer air was on the lower mountain, we skied Lower Bull, Deerfly, and CMAC more times than in recent memory. Or long term memory.

Approaching noon, wait…. It’s a little brighter. Hey, I can see Iceberg - that’s what it looks like?. Pretty hard snow. Then….. Let’s try Snorting Elk-Sluiceway-BerryPatch-Lower E. Random clearing, some sun, quickly softened snow, and Run Of The Day. No Gondola line made for a quick return. Finally someplace that supported aggressive skiing. Two hours of late-in-the-day T2Bs saved the day. And my sanity. Especially Lower E’s bump run. Best of a weird day. Best ski buds for keeping the dream alive. Wohooo?

Kkz

PS - went with the best intentions of getting some pictures today. Picture a gray wall. There, that’s it.

Forecast

There’s gonna be warmth, cooling, rain, light snow, clouds, sun, and maybe Sharknado. That last one’s unlikely, but the rest will happen and no one seems to know when, where, or why. Look the night before, get up early, and take your chances. The perfect plan would be for some light rain over a day, a solid freeze, or two, and some sunny days. New snow will not be our friend right now.

Recovery

Took a week off to battle back from some ailments that caused me to have a horrible ski day last monday. But taking things in small bites helped work both Amigoette and me back into the game, and by the end of the day our recovery was working well.

We took a chance on a weekend crowd to get better weather today. Full on blue sky and sun greeted us as we arrived early. But, even an early chair loading found a persistent fog already starting to play hide-n-seek with the sun. The sunday crowd showed up at the base and on Luckyshot, but never built a line.

To take advantage of the good vis in the sun, we ripped a trial run down Valley-Berg, then 3 quick Sunnysides. That was the first time we’ve been on The Frontside in how many weeks? It’s skiing OK and ready for the next warm sunny day, but Valley Bowl showed once again that north facers would be the place to be. So with an early Northway opening we headed out with the good visibility in tow.

The place to be was on Northway. Best soft snow, minimal crunch in the trees, and nice smooth/soft bumps on the lower angle portions. Chairline Bumps, however, were huge and down to skidded ice from the weekend warriors. I would have been happy to ski Northway all day except that a blinding fog moved in and sank into the nooks and crannies. 

And so the game of hide and seek started. Whatever wasn’t foggy, we seeked until the next time the fog hid it - then we moved along. Bear Pits was so icy it was one and out. Same with the Doors. All the sunny aspects are finally consolidated, maybe a little too much, and in perfect condition for the next warm sunny day. Berry Patch right was good, then we paid our dues on Lower E where the bumps got too much rain - perfectly smooth, unperfectly icy.

Grubstake and C3 Chairline again showed the Jekyll and Hyde character of the sunny aspects versus the shady. My body was playing a game of ski strong and then stop to get the queasiness under control. By the end of the day, the strong part was winning. I’ll call it an excellent recovery day

Kkz

Forecast

As of now, looks like cloudy and precipitation bordering on rain at the base monday. In an hour, the forecast might change. Which way? All signs say monday night and tuesday will be stormy with lots of precip, again really wet at the base. Wednesday is a lull in the action, at least dry, maybe some broken clouds.

What's Next?

It was a day of poking around trying to find some OK snow. Most aspects didn’t even require a ski to be placed on them to put them in the No Go category. Any aspect that received sun last weekend was ugly frozen junk over hard icy bumps - disaster you could see from across the mountain. So we hunted for shady leftover packed powder.

Even the shaded snow had firmed up overnight, but our intrepid threesome left no snow unskied in our search. The Valley Bowl had thickened in the overnight cold and we put it on hold for more skier grooming. Iceberg was firm, groomed nicely, but deteriorated down to the months old rain layer in short order. Luckyshot would soon follow, but we got our groomers out of the way as morning sun that felt so good changed to thickening patches of dark clouds. Hmmm…. Any hopes of sun-softened snow fell by The Wayside.

I made my buds wait at the bottom while I tried an ill-fated-knew-it-unlikely-to-be-good run down Grubstake that proved to be…. sun-crusted junk. Elk Snort was deep and soft and the groomer to C-3 was carvable. When Six and Northway opened, a cloud hung on the top of Powder Bowl so Northway was the call. Only parts of Paradise Bowl that never see the sun were on my good side. It appears the Cat that grooms Northway is broke, and not in an out-of-money way. This has allowed the normally groomed lower run to stay small soft bumps, some of the best skiing of the day.  Bruce’s Bowl, Bruce’s Trees, and the tree bumps below the Nose were soft, energetic fun. My run of the day.

From Northway we fought our way across the frozen wasteland to Campbell Basin. You have to go all the way to the end of the Campbell Traverse for the good turns. Powder Bowl was… OK. Powder Bowl has succumbed to the fate much of the mountain has. There was a lot of snow a few weeks ago and a lot of skiers that couldn’t handle it. That’s left the cut-up underpinnings in a state of crossing constant traverse lines and bumps cut left to right - not down the hill. We did our best to straighten things out, alternating from Wohooos to Who Did THAT!

The good snow was at opposite ends of Crystal today. Campbell’s far skier’s right, Powder Bowl, and Northway Central. Back and forth using a now scraped ice Luckyshot and Iceberg for transportation. Ended the day somewhat satisfied and glad I didn’t ski Bear Pits.

Kkz

Forecast

The weekend looks to keep things frozen, a few flurries of new that will just hide the underlying pain, and maybe, just maybe, a little sun and warming on monday. It’s that time of year when skier grooming (there’s not much of that going on) a

Warm

It’s that time of year. When new snow may not be your friend and mountain temperature swings can really mess things up. It’s also that time of year when above freezing temperatures are the only thing that saves the day.

The previous day’s sun baked the slopes and we found the overnight temps had frozen it in place. And frozen in place was no place you wanted to be. There were some really ugly shapes out there. But it was already in the mid-30s and the sun was out; we expected redemption soon. A high cloudy haze quickly formed and delayed redemption. So we paid our dues by scouting around trying to find some goodness. It was a long search.

The Valley was chopped stiff junk, Iceberg was pretty good for a groomer, Luckyshot was smooth ice, Snorting Elk was OK packed pow that led to some low angle fun in the Berry Patch and Lower E. Lower E is still smooth, hard, huge bumps with here-and-there piles of soft stuff to push around. Can’t figure out why it’s so much fun. Chair Six opened early and we headed to Powder Bowl only to have our expectations of packed pow in the shade ruined by crunchy leftovers on top of firm choppy bumps. Expectations that weren’t ruined as bad as Bear Pits ruined my ability to enjoy a run. BP was a disaster of 1/3 lumpy pow over hip-high pyramidal bumps, 1/3 smooth skidded steep ice, and 1/3 frozen glop over hard oddly arranged bumps.

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Headed North sweating like an overdressed pig even after dropping a layer. Paradise Bowl had 6-12” of untracked new (closed for 2 days) that hid some surprises but skied well. In the chairline bumps the new was still untracked, very heavy, and one of the best pitches of the day. Booted up to Northway Peak for the view-of-the-day before skiing smooth new snow hiding hard bumps. Lower down the bumps were melting and more fun. As the sun came back out, we had to shed the coats and tried Valley Bowl again.

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Finally the temperature, sun, and snow hit the Goldilocks Zone. Big bumps of frozen lumps melted to just the right temperature. Tip-to-tail, Amigoette and I traded the lead lapping Valley-Bergs as fast as we could while The Zone lasted. 5-6 runs that made our day. Until the next storm moved closer, the sky darkened, and it was time to T2B it for home. A fast run that ended in scary stickiness at the bottom of Lower Bull Run.

Kkz

Forecast

Another freeze up tonight will not be kind to any of today’s snow. Tomorrow’s temperatures are unlikely to thaw things much but may be too high as the expected precip may be rain to mid-mountain. And windy. Friday looks frozen glop cold. Warm snow over frozen glop saturday, and sunny and melting glop on sunday. Lots of skier grooming is needed.

Gray

Gray sky, gray fog - even the snow looked gray. There was some nice new snow, 4-12”, covering everything. The problem was the everything.

Any aspect that got sun on friday and saturday was new snow over now-frozen sun-baked mank. Unfortunately, once committed to Memorial, we had to ski the whole run. We couldn’t see most of the run as it was foggy as shit. A wall of fog from Green Valley south obliterated all vision. North of G-Valley, it was a horizontal layer of fog that turned the world a swirling grayness down to the lower level of the GV chair.

Trying to add a little color to a very gray day.

Trying to add a little color to a very gray day.

Blinded by the fog, we poked around trying to find a place with enough trees so you could see, and with snow that wasn’t just a disguise for icy bumps. The crunchy/icy layer was a surprise. We’d left some really nice packed pow friday, but over the weekend, between the sun and crowd, all that was left below the new snow was crunchy ice and hard bumps.

So we vertigo skied from place to place finding a few turns here and there. The new snow was really nice, it was just the underlying snow that tripped you up. Or, the whiteout fog disorientated you. We anticipated Bear Pits, nice packed pow on friday, as being a good place with trees for vis and steep for fun. Once through the no-see-um traverse, things looked promising. A soft fast entry, then….. Whoever’s been there in the last couple day has carved the whole area into big swoopy side-to-side hard bumps. Try to ski the fall line and it was banging over walls of ice. Same for Outer Ferks.

We found the best line, after much that-wasn’t-good exploration, to be long T2Bs down Snorting Elk-Sluiceway-Berry Patch-Lower E and ride the Gondola back up.

Maybe Powder Bowl held the elusive leftover packed powder under the new, but we could never see more that a few feet up the hill. People coming out of the mist said vis was non-existent. So, we took an early departure and chalked one up as An Exploration Day.

Kkz

Forecast

Tomorrow will start a clearing trend with increasing visibility, but the warming trend will be wednesday. Clear and warm on wednesday will soften the crunch and heavy-up the leftover new. I expect a transition from too frozen, to perfect, to too soft. Then re-freeze it all later in the week. Spring is coming.

One Awesome Run

I must be living right, finally. Second day in a row that a foggy, snowy morning turned to clear blue skies. 

What a difference visibility makes. The leftover snow was as expected. Thick, lumpy, and the overnight cold had increased both while firming up the underlayment. Add in the fog and snow flurry induced poor visibility and it was a tough go. From yesterday, we knew where the good snow would be, if only you could see. A test run into Bear Pits Big Chute confirmed expectations that it would be perfect packed pow.

When we got back to Rex, suddenly, the sun was out, angels were singing, and Powder Bowl glistened and beckoned. (disclaimer, actually no angels were involved, just my mental soundtrack) And, they’d opened C-6, early. So off we went to the one area we knew would be the best snow today. It was. Our new run down the blaster tube and JD’s Chute were 4” of new untracked over soft cut powder. Fast, smooth, soft, steep, and a bunch of other adjectives only skiers enjoy. Bear Pits, a little different in a perfect packed and loose pow kinda way continued the adrenalin thrills. Found our one awesome run so what else you gonna do but repeat, repeat, repeat…… Till the clouds moved back in just as fast as they had cleared.

The incoming fog and snow shower made it easier to hide our big shit-eating grins. It also hid the unfortunate multitude of traverse lines in Green Valley. Don’t do that, it’s called DOWN hill skiing. C-3 chairline was steep and deep shady stuff, but short. Elk Snort had it moments, but the rest was “meh” after the PB-BP runs. Kelly’s gap also has some good - and some tough sections - while Lower E was great if you knew which side to be on.

We tried a couple Valley Bergs in the decreasing vis and increasing firmness and pulled the plug. Closing out the best 4-day “work week” I’ve had in a long time.

Kkz

Forecast

Very slight refreshment over the next few days. Cool mornings with warming base temps and cool top temps. Most of the mountain needs some skier grooming to turn the thick lumpy got-too-much-sun areas into good packed powder. That’s the weekender crowd’s assignment. See ya monday for some sun, I hope.

Sun vs Shade

Expectations, disappointments, and surprises - sums up the day. 14” of new snow had powder expectations running high as a large opening crowd of hungry skiers waited for the lift to open. Spoiled by sunday/monday’s light new snow, I dove into Memorial and quickly lowered my expectations to windblown ice on the crest and heavy windpack the rest of the way. Memorial, along with any other open east to southeast facing runs, skied ok for the first few people through, but quickly turned to thick and cut lumps. Switched to north facers and my mood quickly improved.

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Suddenly I noticed that the sun was out and we were bathed in that perfect blue winter sky. Surprise, I don’t know of a better ski attitude improver. Expected a huge line at C-6 when its light went green. Nope, surprise. Campbell was a smooth fast ride over untracked wind crust. Powder Bowl JD’s Chute was as good as it gets.

I didn’t sleep well last night and my brain wasn’t working so good on run decisions. Luckily, my ski wingman (or am I his wingman?), threw out suggestions that sounded questionable but turned out awesome. A forgotten line on Exterminator, a gnarly entrance to Eagles Drop, and around the nose to secret trees demanded repeats. Banana Chute always makes me a little woozy when it’s suggested. But I tightened my sphincter and headed over. An easy entry if you thread the line through the rocks and then it was the best snow of the day.

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Ended the day, a little early, with a couple Powder Bowl - Bear Pits. PB’s Main Chute is skiing great and BP’s Big Chute the same. Probably where you’ll find me tomorrow.

Kkz

Forecast

Likely some light snow overnight and cooling temps lining up for scattered light snow, scattered light sun, and cool temps tomorrow. Today’s snow will turn into perfect packed pow with just a little skier grooming. A good chunk of Northway will be blocked off for Extremo Nationals tomorrow (Southback on saturday). Long term looks similar till more snow comes in monday.

Visibility

Very blue sky and tremendous visibility that put yesterday’s black and whiteout world to shame. Minimal post-closing snow gave a little refreshment to today’s cut pow pillows and we did our best to finish it off. Mission accomplished. What we couldn’t ski out, the sun turned to thick, lumpy crud after noon.

It was a fun day with a couple Amigos back from sickness reserve, and another few reappearing while Amigoette had to sit this one out.

Early morning Frontsides were fast and furious. Our stashes in Exterminator Extremities had filled in and demanded recutting. And the special side of EH was the smoothest and deepest of the morning. Chair Six had a good sized line so it was PB and out. A line I haven’t skied it for awhile in PB proved to be the run-of-the-day. Maybe the best ever upper Powder Bowl run. The lower half was top 10. 

I’ll keep it short in a “you should have been there today”… and yesterday kinda way. By noon, everything in the sun was cut clumps of heavy crud. As the sun descended, it started to turn crispy. I’m hoping for a big crowd tuesday to chop it up and smooth the crunch. (It will not happen with the light crowds.) We’ll see what wednesday brings.

Kkz

Forecast

There will be very minimal new snow til late wednesday afternoon. I don’t expect the light post-press-holiday crew to do much skier grooming. So some new for thursday, leftovers friday. Warming and sunny saturday and on. Hopefully turning into some spring skiing.

White Out

Today was all about trees and wind. Between the thick fog, dumping snow (all day), and blasting wind gusts, if you were in the open it was complete blindness. One run, we had to stop 6 times for 30-60 seconds as the wind blew tons of snow out of the trees. To avoid the face scouring snow blast I put my face down. I couldn’t see my knees. Other than that, it was one of the best snow days of the year.

Anything in the open was not on the list. Trees were a requirement, although we had to take some open traverses to get around. Memorial started the day as Forest is in its name. Very good. Six and Northway opened early. There was a Junior Extremo contest on Six/The King so we headed north. The goods lay waiting in our favorite places. Two blind traverses, two long knee deep tree runs of special new snow. As the NW line was forming, it was time for Employee Housing. Another No-See-Um tuck to gate 7 then a special entry to Amigoette’s favorite tree line. We had to stop at the end of the trees and wait for the air to clear before heading to the next set of trees. I-5 was not bad - sorry to the snowboarders that have to walk the whole way out.

Another blind traverse to Exterminator, then E-Trees and my version of CD’s stash. Amigoette liked it so much we did it over, and over. As it was snowing about 2” per hour, tracks filled in fast. Finally succumbing to the face scouring wind-blown snow, we called it a day when our coats were encrusted in ice from too many face shots. I mean, no officer, I didn’t have too many face shots. This smile is just frozen in place.

Now we have a basement full of wet drying gear. Hoping it dries by morning for a repeat session tomorrow.

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I usually avoid weekends from the first week in january, and 8 plus presidents day weekends later. But sometimes duty calls and it’s necessary to take a crowded weekend for the team. Which team, I don’t know, but I’m taking a hit for someone I think. Expecting crowds, we left home really early. I didn’t expect how many others would be early as well. And, I didn’t expect how many early people don’t have snow cars or know how to drive in the snow. A slow uphill commute. BUT, not as slow as the downward drive. 15mph, come on. On the flat 30, maybe 25? 100 cars behind you but you can’t pull over? Amazing that some people want to try skiing, that’s great but haven’t thought out the Maybe we’ll have to drive in the snow question. Hope the people in the minivan with bald tires stuck in the family load zone made it down….

Kkz

Forecast

It’s still dumping snow for a while and will taper off overnight. Temps are dropping and it’ll be cold, around 10° in the morning. The cut up pow and tracks will be covered. But don’t worry, I’ll go inspect so you can sleep in. Oh, looks like sun also.