Snow only a mother, I mean Crystal Skier, could love. Chairs only Crystal could mess up so badly. Hordes of people only a good marketing department (and clueless weather watchers) could deliver. To call today’s snow powder was a travesty and an insult to powder snow. Longtime local knowledge and a great gang of ski buds turned it into a day of fun.
Yesterday dumped 10-16 inches (3” at the rainy base) of new very wet, very heavy snow across the mountain. The base mostly rain, the top only a couple hours of rainish precipitation. At its best it was heavy untracked. At its worst, mashed potatoes that would make a Thanksgiving dinner proud. We Crystal Skiers expected this, but there were thousands of people that listened to the TV weather guy and the Crystal marketing report and came up to ski “over a foot of fresh snow this morning and the gettin’ was good!”. Only to wait in the Chinook line and take an hour to get to the top of the mountain. Chinook was running at 1/4 speed and stopping after every second chair load. By the time we got to the mountain top, the people that had waited hours for the first Gondy buckets had tracked up most of the new snow. The gettin’ was good for the first 50 skiers.
But, we sucked up the slow line, slow chair, and frozen butt and dove in. Low expectations were exceeded on Breakover into Sunnyside. Down to about 5500 feet, that is, where you hit the rain line. A couple untracked turns up top then into Door 8 turned into more goodness. LS Trees should have been bypassed. We tried this and that with some winners - Valley Bowl, and some losers - Bear Pits. When we realized we had perfect timing for the Northway opening it was game on. It turns out you can get two awesome untracked runs in before the hordes of shouldn’t-be-out-on-Northway-in-deep-heavy-snow skiers make it to the bottom forming a huge line. Never seen so many newbies stuck in the deep heaviness, climbing out of the creek, or hoping that saying “there’s no place like home” will get them a balloon ride out of the ungroomed backcountry.
Since everyone had gone to slog out of Northway or wait in line on C-6, we lapped Rex and Green Valley until the hard packing wet snow beat us down. Valley Bowl continued to deliver, Grubstake needs hundreds of skier-groomers, and both Iceberg and Luckyshot ground down to last week’s ice and brown spots.
What had started off as a frustrating day of bad mountain operations turned into a fun day. Knowing when and were to go was the key. I had my expected this-ain’t-gonna-be-good spots as well as surprises of secret-spot greatness. Sometimes one or two runs can make your day. Make those runs with your best ski buds and life is really good.
The snow was packing really hard everywhere. Won’t be a pretty sight after tonight’s freeze. Tomorrow freezing levels will rise, softening the snow, but light precip will be rain. Sunday and monday bring really high freezing levels for some deep slop till skier grooming smooths and packs the off-groomed. Tuesday the freezing level drops. Or does it? Really warm temps in the lowlands mean more mountain rain. Mountain forecast say ice. Check the late monday updates.