Heavy snow continues to fall in the Pacific NW today adding to yesterday’s snow totals. Our home mountain, the Summit at Snoqualmie’s Alpental now boasts the #1 deepest snow base in North America (including Alaska and Canada). Mt. Baker is a very close #2. The other top rankings are dominated by WA and OR resorts. TNT got this nice shot to show us what the deepest snow is looking like at Alpental – he’s on his fat 133mm underfoot AK Master skis (part of Dean Cummings’ H20 Outdoor Gear ski line) and he’s still chest deep. Alpental’s skiing is just like another epic deep day we captured in the video below. However, this week could possibly get even better: The winter storm warning for the West slopes of the central Cascades in WA continues and the National Weather Service is calling for another 15″-28″ at mountain pass levels by end of day tomorrow. Powder to the People! We want to remind you that avalanche danger is HIGH -even below treeline. So backcountry skiing and riding is not recommended. If you haven’t already, check out an avalanche course. Those in our zone, can sign up for Pro Guiding’s Level 1 class being held Mar. 4-9. Stay safe and live to ski another day!
UPDATE (1:30pm): Summit at Snoqualmie’s Alpental ski area just updated their snow totals – after receiving 27″ of new snow in the last 12 hrs up top, 17″ at the base, they are now tied with Mt. Baker for the #1 DEEPEST snow in North America with 146″ (based on top measurements and excluding only Eaglecrest, AK’s top measurements – details below).
Original story: The current Pacific NW storm brought over a foot of snow in just the last 12 hours to several of our ski resorts rocketing them to the top of our N. America ski resort snow depth rankings. As in past years, the King of Snow: Mt. Baker Ski Resort in Washington has the deepest snow in the lower 48 at both their base and top elevations. Eaglecrest in AK is reporting 1″ more at their top elevation; however, Eaglecrest has less than 1/3 the amount of snow at their base (42″ and 147″ at their base and top, respectively). So, Eaglecrest aside, our Washington and Oregon resorts dominate the rankings: with White Pass, WA 2nd after Mt. Baker, followed by Mt. Bachelor, Summit at Snoqualmie’s Alpental and Stevens Pass. Below is how those U.S. resorts with the top deepest snow depths stack up (based on resort’s own snow reports at top elevation – which sits lower than most base elevations in the Rockies).
Another more than 30″ is forecast for our zone by Wednesday (read: WA and OR will have the deepest snow in N. America including AK by the time this storm runs its course). We are definitely back to our normal winter pattern. According to NOAA’s Western Regional Climate Center (“NOAA”), our region: the western Cascade Mountains (which includes the western slope of the Cascade Range from the Columbia River to the Canadian Border and measured at elevations of approximately 1,000 ft – approx. 5,500 ft), receives in an average winter season, snowfall ranging from 400-600 inches at 4,000 to 5,500 feet. NOAA reports that: Some of the greatest seasonal snowfalls and snow depths in the U.S. have been recorded on the slopes of Mt. Rainer and Mt. Baker. The greatest seasonal snowfall recorded at Mt. Rainer-Paradise Ranger Station (elevation 5,500 ft) was 1,000 inches in 1955-56. Mt. Baker ski area beat that with a record breaking 1,140 inches of snowfall in 1998-99! These and other high peaks above 7,000 or 8,000 feet remain snowcapped throughout the summer – which is how we get to ski every month of the year in WA. Our snowline in midwinter varies from 1,500-2,000 feet above sea level – well below the base elevation of all resorts in the Rockies. Although snowfall continues until late spring allowing us to enjoy Cinco de Mayo annually with lift served fun, the maximum depth is usually reached during the first half of March when snow depths above 3,000 feet typically range from 10-25 feet. So there you have it: deep is the norm for us – so learn to enjoy it safely. If you haven’t already, sign up for avalanche awareness classes as the avalanche danger remains High. For those in our zone, check out the classes offered by Pro Guiding Service in N. Bend. Live to ski another day!
UPDATE (2:45pm): i90 was open through Snoqualmie Pass for about 2 hours but now is closed again EASTbound to remove disabled vehicles. WSDOT says this will take a couple of hours. Clearly, it’s going to be a busy day for our WSDOT and traffic will be slow and heavy so be sure to tune into 1610 a.m. for traffic updates.
Original story: HIGH SNOW & high anxiety as Washington States DOT reports that I 90, Snoqualmie Pass is still closed at 9am this morning, eastbound at North Bend and in the westbound direction at Easton Cle Elum and Ellensburg, due to continuing heavy snow, and some of Summit at Snoqualmie’s Alpental and Central lifts are experiencing delayed openings (their other areas are closed today). WSP and WSDOT Crews are in the process of clearing the roadway. Avalanche control work will need to be completed before the road opens. The roadway is not expected to open for SEVERAL hours. Eastbound traffic waiting near Exit 47 will be turned back west, to be able to wait near services. Tune into 1610 a.m. for traffic updates. Weather forecasters were spot on with this storm: Alpental area received 17″ and 20″ of new snow at their base and top, respectively, in just the last 12 hours. ANOTHER 30″ is forecast by tomorrow night and our local news is already suggesting that folks avoid driving the passes today. With the heavy snowfall, avalanche danger in the backcountry remains high. Travel in the backcountry is not recommended. Visit nwac.us for avalanche forecasts. Live to ski another day!
Winter storm warnings and watches are in effect again this weekend for Washington’s Cascade mountains. King5 TV is forecasting over 3ft of mountain snow over the long weekend. Below is Alison Morrow’s report on snow conditions and the high avalanche danger including interviews with John Stimberis of Alpental’s Ski Patrol and WSDOT, Matt Leitzinger and our own TNT. Join us this weekend at Alpental for Vertfest, a mountain festival dedicated to raising the level of snow safety education and stoke for backcountry enthusiasts, and supporting the efforts of avalanches centers everywhere. While there, be sure to check out Pro Guiding Service’s tent and try out some new gear, including Dean Cummings’ H2O skis. Live to ski another day.
We caught up with Roch Horton of Black Diamond Equipment at the Snow Sports Industry demo show in Copper Mountain, CO. Among the products he showed us was the women’s 2014 Shiva Mx AT/Freeride ski boot -it’s the successor to the popular Shiva boot and offers several improved features. Having a small and difficult foot to fit, there are few boots that work for me. Black Diamond’s Shiva has been by far the most comfortable, high performance alpine touring (pin binding compatible) boot for me to date. It has served me (and held up) well through countless long backcountry tours. The fact that I’m still wearing their first generation boot (circa 2009?) is proof of that. But after seeing the latest model, I think it’s time for a new pair! If you’re in our zone, go try them out at Pro Ski and Guiding in N. Bend, WA (logo link to the right).
Pro Guiding Service’s owner and certified mountain guide, Martin Volken, and our own TNT talked to Alison Morrow of NBC’s King5 TV about the snow conditions to help raise awareness of avalanche dangers. If you missed the story, watch it below. With the recent heavy snowfall, the Northwest Avalanche Center raised its forecast for backcountry avalanches to ‘high’, the second highest level (highest being ‘extreme’). In the Pacific NW and Rockies (CO, OR, WA and UT), there have been six avalanche fatalities in the backcountry in just the last five days, bringing this season’s total to 12. Our sympathies to their friends and families. It’s a painful reminder of the importance of snow safety and backcountry education. We encourage those who are interested and in our area to check out Pro Guiding’s large selection of classes (logo link to right). Also, join them and many others at Vertfest this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15 and 16, at Alpental for backcountry clinics and gear demos. Stay safe and Live to ski another day!
Always a pleasure to ski and film with Kastle’s two-time World Champion athlete, Chris Davenport, whether it’s deep in the backcountry off a volcano or just ripping some freshly loaded groomers (which is what we had this past week at the SIA “On the Snow” Demo show at Copper Mountain, CO). At last year’s show, we had “high pressure” hard packed groomers so we were able to see how Kastle skis perform in bad/sketchy conditions – essential seeing as we’ve all had that boney run out on occasion, even on an epic powder run. You want a ski that has you remembering the bliss and not a sketchy near miss. Knowing that Kastle skis passed the hard packed test at last year’s demo, I was stoked to get to rip them with Chris and company on some really sweet cold groomers this time around. Chris took out next season’s big mountain Kastle MX98 (seen in the video below) while I was on the Kastle FX104 freeride skis (the numbers represent the ski width underfoot). Bingo!! These skis are so legit -which I knew last year but this time we got to feel them react on the fluff and through the occasional patch of hard pack without experiencing any wash out at all. These skis handle variable conditions so impressively. So if you would like to be a more dynamic skier like Chris Davenport, well, keep on skiing every chance you get, get lessons, work on technique, and demo some of Kastle’s MX & FX line up. Over the years, we’ve demo’ed nearly all of the Kastle skis so we can say these are superb, gold standard skis deserving of their premium brand status. Go try some and keep up with Chris’ latest adventures at chrisdavenport.com.
Squaw Valley is CLOSED today. Alpine Meadows’ lower mountain is open with 7 lifts running (upper is closed). Squaw Valley reports that high camp located at 8200 ft. picked up 38 more inches of snow between yesterday and this morning bringing the 4 day total to 5 FEET. In the next 24 hrs., there’s the possibility of another 1-2 feet above 7000 ft. and another 2-3 feet above 8000 feet, all by Monday morning. That would bring storm totals into the 7+ foot range up top. Very stoked for our friends in Tahoe to get much needed snow. Squaw’s base depth is now at 20″ and 70″ at 6200′ and 8200′, respectively. Live to ski another day!
Based on recent trip reports Paradise seemed like the place to be. Carl & Tara Simpson, Zack & Stephanie Jessel, and David O’Donnell headed up to Muir on Feb 4, 2014. With up to another 12″ of new snow in the forecast by Sunday, Paradise is going to be, well, Paradise. Here’s what Carl reports: We made it to 10k but couldn’t find Muir so we skied down along our skin track in a white out. At the base of Pan Face we decided to go check out the Mazama area. We found our best powder turns of the season so far. After our second lap we were out of time but decided to return the following day for more face shots. With talk of thigh deep blower we managed to round up a good sized crew who were willing to face the wind and the cold. The crew included Carl & Tara Simpson, Zack Jessel, Rory Robison, Kyle Miller, David O’Donnell, James Fletcher, and Alicia Brannan. The increasing wind affected many of the slopes and slabs were forming. Caution to people traveling in the coming days especially when we get new snow. We managed to find mostly unaffected snow, that flew up into your face, woooooo! Another amazing day in Paradise with good friends!
Much of Colorado is under a wind chill warning as an arctic airmass continues to sit overhead. Up at Loveland Basin, ski patrol closed access to the summit and the free cat skiing terrain as temps hit a wind chilled -37. With the possibility of frost bite with just 10 minutes of exposure, I made sure to cover up well. My usual routine would involve a neck gaiter pulled up and over my nose and tucked under my goggles = inevitably leading to fogged goggles. So I was very much hoping a new product called SnowzNoze would work. SnowzNoze is a fleece lined neoprene piece that velcros to the bottom of your goggles and hangs over and covers your nose (pictured in pink). By end of day, fingers and toes were frozen but not my nose or face (which I could cover without blocking my nose – thus, goggles remained fog-free). Awesome! That such a simple product could work so well. Very happy since, temps aside, the skiing was great: coldest smoke ever. With more snow on the way and temps remaining in the single digits and dropping below zero, be sure to add this to your list of essential cold weather gear. Live to ski another day!