Early Season

 I make a lot of runs every year; actually, I make a lot of runs every day.  So, when one particular run stands out in my mind for months to follow sometimes even years it is worth something.  It is that run you tell your friends about, that run you can go back to and feels the joy from , and that run you search for whenever you crank your boots down.


photo by Chris Morin


Today with -9 degrees in the Valley, 20 inches of new blower, and bluebird skies I got that run.  A team of 5 patrollers went out today to do some control work for the guys working on the new gondola so they could safely get the haul line onto the towers.  We also controlled the Frontside under Rex so vehicles could use the road. After that we headed out towards Northway to evaluate hazard and see if it was worth an opening on Thursday or Friday.  And sure enough this is where the memorable run took place.  It was so deep and light that Utah was jealous.  The gods were lightly misting me with snowflakes as others softly supported my skis.

It looks promising (fingers crossed) that this week you too will have a run like mine.  We are trying to open as much terrain as possible so we can get skiers on it.  Selfishly, this helps the mountain more than you know.  This feather light cold snow that fell makes for hero skiing but not a good layer in our snowpack.  When the next storm rolls in and buries our current ground cover it will add too much weight which will lead to a failure and that means avalanches.  The best way to prevent this is to get skiers on the snow now and pack down that cold smoke to make it denser.  With this said, the more terrain we open the more hazards there are.  For an example, the traverse from the top of High Campbell lift toward the throne is all rock.  Not just rocky spots but a skree fields.  Or tower 10 on Northway Chair has an open creek with enough running water to kayak down.  But other than these natural terrain features that demand slow and conservative skiing—yay winter is here!

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