Report from Park City
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9 users
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Roger Z
January 23, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Okay, so I just got back from a weeklong ski trip to Park City. The plusses? One week of purple skies, sunshine, and spotless grooming. The minuses? One week of purple skies, sunshine, and spotless grooming. The plusses outweighed the minuses in this case, mostly because my girlfriend- from El Salvador- revelled in the weather (even when the high was eight degrees) and didn't dig the one time it snowed at all (a light flurry on Saturday afternoon at Deer Valley). In this case, getting her to like the sport was more important than immaculate powder conditions. But NEXT time I won't be so charitable about the weather...

Okay, let's discuss the weather. There is a blocking high pressure sitting over the Rockies and no indication that this is going to break over the next 7-10 days. Are you planning to get away to do some skiing out in CO or UT over the next 3-4 weeks? Chances are you are going to encounter thin conditions- thin at least compared to the last 2-3 years out west. Here's some words of advice that may or may not be an improvement over what you know, but maybe they're beneficial:

1) Not every powder bowl is actually powder. Do not be fooled by untracked conditions at popular resorts three to five days after a snowstorm. I hit one beautiful, powder run at The Canyons three days after a storm but other than that, my exploration of the bowls above the resort were a bust. One bowl was ice on one side and mixed powder on the other. A second bowl had different conditions literally every turn- from knee deep powder on one turn to breakable crust on the next to windswept hardpack on the third. In dry years it's best to follow the herd and accept packed down snow in the bowls, Scotts Bowl at PCMR is holding quality hardback right now (packed powder by western standards). Hiking 45 minutes can be a waste of breath.

2) If you must try for the untracked, follow the sun. It appears that the sun loosens the crust when it hits (and assuming it's in the 20s), and I had some very, very, very fine sugar powder runs at Deer Valley to prove the point. But as soon as the sun moves off the slope, it turns back to breakable crust, and if the powder is even partially skied out you're in for a world of pain.

3) Know the way the wind and snow has settled. Obviously southern facing slopes in a thin year are questionable until you get to a certain altitude (in the case of Utah, you better be above 9,500 feet or you're gonna be rock hopping). The wind also scours the slopes. McConkey's was blown dry by an 80 mph wind two weeks before. And The Canyons is miserable because of a combination of exposure, grooming, and wind. If you go to The Canyons, stay high and off-piste. If you must ski groomed terrain, don't venture beyond Saddleback. Boa off the old Parkwest is in good shape, as are some of the other groomers up there.

4) Where the snowcover is good, the groomers are awesome. Crowds are kinda light right now because of the lack of snow. At PCMR, you can ski the intermediate runs all day and have quality packed powder to yourself. Watch the Wasatch lift at Deer Valley- kind of groomer-scraped ice out there. Best terrain at DV is in Empire Canyon and Flagstaff Mountain.

5) Eastern skiing skills are at a premium this year. All the time you've spent learning how to hold a carve in ice, rock hop in a mogul field, and skim around bushes is gonna come in handy. My parents shot a video of me coming down West Face at PCMR and it ain't pretty, but it's brush-skimming at it's finest (you just can't see the brush in the video). I found a lot of skills I had honed in natural snow terrain in New England and Blue Knob and elsewhere coming back with a vengeance out west this winter, and I truly enjoyed calling upon those skills. Even one run at the Canyons my step-dad said the locals were watching me in awe. It's not that I'm a particularly good skier... it's that I am an east coast skier and any one of us on this board can burn the a** off a westerner when the snow is thin. Time to head out west and prove it, folks!

Nothing else leaps to mind for any westbounders out there. Oh, wait, one other thing. The El Nino is in full effect and the southern Rockies have been doing well lately. Taos and Wolf Creek are reporting solid conditions. I'll be at both later this winter (or at least at NM and CO). BC is still in good shape, too. Central Rockies are struggling right now, though, so be prepared with all your eastern skills. The snow is still great, so you won't be disappointed, it's just not the waist-deep powder we've gotten the last couple years.
skier219
January 23, 2007
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Awesome, thanks for the report!
JohnL
January 23, 2007
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
Quote:

Okay, let's discuss the weather. There is a blocking high pressure sitting over the Rockies and no indication that this is going to break over the next 7-10 days. Are you planning to get away to do some skiing out in CO or UT over the next 3-4 weeks? Chances are you are going to encounter thin conditions- thin at least compared to the last 2-3 years out west.




Looks like I'll need to remember my New England skillz; my next trip to Crush-land is 2/2-2/6. From your forecast, my cancellation this past weekend may have tossed me from the frying pan to the fire. But in a lame attempt at rationalization, I've probably hit more rocks on powder days out West than in any other condition or location. If you can see 'em, you can avoid 'em. Looks like I'll be taking the 666's, the Devil's own. Show those Mormons whose da boss.
fishnski
January 24, 2007
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Thanks for the representation Homey....East coasters RULE!
Crush
January 24, 2007
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,000 posts
dude! i actually had my edges sharpened and ceramic-disked ! i wuz at pcmr and most stuff off of king con and silverload were pretty darn hard snow conditions, and most bumping involved judicious rock n' branch avoidance skills ha. last run i ducked the rope off mconkey's and skied into deer valley ... that was nice ha ha ... best snow was in between resorts!
kennedy
January 24, 2007
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
I'm out there Feb 3rd thru 10th and I have fingers and toes crossed that it will turn around and just dump on us.
tommo
January 24, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
Just came back from 3 days in CO - Breckenridge and Vail - and RogerZ's report pretty well sums up the situation there as well. Snow is very thin in bowls and chutes, even at high e.g. 11K plus, elevations. Most everything is still skiable, but rocks are a hazard everywhere. At Vail, the backside is, well, the backside, but expect large, hard bumps everywhere with rocks in unanticipated places. On the other hand, bumps in glades are considerably softer, though still very much "packed powder."

Great stuff, but the whole of central CO needs snow badly. Ironically, it's not due to lack of cold - temps were at or below zero every night, but there was not a trace of moisture to be found.

I think I'll have to go to WV or West MD this weekend to find the best powder around
Roger Z
January 24, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Dang Crush, you gotta come back east. I thought the stuff of KingCon and Silverlode- except the blacks- was GREAT. Assessment, PowderKeg, Glory Hole, Fools Gold, all good stuff. You're probably right about the best stuff being in-between the resorts, though I rode the gondolda at The Canyons with one of the "snow farmers" and he said the backcountry was in bad shape too.

Speaking of bad snow, though, I've gotta go get my skis re-p-texed now...

ps- Skiing during the Sundance Festival is not for everyone. Yeah, the slopes are empty but was it just me Crush or did the horn-honking increase about 100-fold in Park City last week? At one point, I was counting horns honking at the intersection of Empire and Park (where we stayed) about once every two minutes (and this was at 10:30 at night!). This doesn't count all the drunk people screaming at three in the morning. Skiers these Sundance attendees certainly aren't...
jimmy
January 24, 2007
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
This season is starting to remind me of 04/05. Count on this, I'll be skiing in utah 3/5 thru 3/9; there will be an epic dump in the alpps that week .

Checked my edges last night and they're really burred up. Time for the an edge job for me as well, don't want to go to VT with dull tewls.
kennedy
January 24, 2007
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
I think my edges are fine but I need to do a little base clean and rewax. I'm running warmer temp wax right now so I imagine I'd better get something suited to colder snow for UT
MadMonk
January 24, 2007
Member since 12/27/2004 🔗
235 posts
Hopefully the snow conditions improve for the first week of March.
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