Monday, January 5, 2009

TRIP REPORT: First day... finally!

So... after the late start to the snow season, and then all of the weather craziness keeping me at work, I FINALLY got to ski on Sunday (January 4th)!!!!

I went to Mt. Hood Meadows, whereI skied from 9am until 5pm (minus 1 hour for lunch). Yes, it was a long day... and my knees are feeling it today. Overall, it was a really good day.

A few observations:

1) There is plenty of snow. This year has gone from famine to feast in a hurry.

2) There is so much evidence of last week's storminess. It's obvious that ski area crews had significant clean-up work to do. Many trees fell, and there is very thick ice still caked onto many of the lift towers. The storm on New Year's Day was especially brutal, and I understand how and why it took most of the day-after to recover from that storm. The snow itself was pretty good -- some nice dry fluff above some "variable" snow underneath. The groomed snow was sufficiently carvable, yet still fast.

3) Despite the challenging conditions of late, Meadows had all lifts and runs open on Sunday, with the exception of Cascade Express (and the upper mountain runs served by that lift). It was apparent that crews we working up there -- blasting some potential avalanche spots and de-icing the lift tower machinery. They were doing this despite the forecast for increased storminess that surely would undo much of their work.

4) Heather Canyon (and the lift serving it) is now open for the season. The Howitzer is there, and they're using it when necessary. While the weapon may help get the Canyon open earlier each day, its real benefit is to make the avalanche control work safer and more effective for the patrol crew.

It may be several days before I'm able to make it up there again, but if you have a report to share, feel free to leave a comment for me to post.

Briefly turning to the weather... we'll have to survive a couple days of rainy and windy conditions before more pleasant winter weather returns. The snow level will be at or above 8,000 feet through Wednesday. Rain will be light through Tuesday, but Wednesday looks like a soaker. Skip that day. The snow level will dramatically plummet early Thursday, and significant new snow is likely Thursday (but it'll be windy). By Friday, it'll be dry and calm... and Friday will begin an extended stretch of dry and mild weather in the mountains. While the snow may turn spring-like, the break in the storminess will allow mountain crews to get their upper mountains open... for the first time this season!


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