Anyone know what Liberty is talking about when they say "Looks like our weather is about to change as it usually does. Winter is forecast to return to "normal" in just a few days. That mean colder temperature and lots and lots of snow!" on their website? Is it just a sales pitch or is it supposed to get colder this weekend and I missed it.
Go West !!!
On a positive note, cycling has been fabulous. I took a nice ride on Beach Drive yesterday.
In the meantime, I'm just going to stare at the pictures I took in Utah two weeks ago, and keep hoping that it either snows or that something forces me to move west very soon....
Snowbird Ski Resort:
Brighton Ski Resort:
I always keep both my ski and bike racks on the roof. It makes a lot of sense in this crazy climate.
At Timberline in the Spring, you often see people with skis and whitewater kayaks on the roof...
"By Tuesday, the cold front from the last wave will have swept offshore, and temperatures will be back to seasonable norms, and look for the snow guns to start cranking. The MLK weekend, another critical one in the business of winter sports, will be just a couple weeks away at that point, and bases in the east need some boosting, to be sure. Another short wave, this one a more typical Alberta Clipper, will run through the northeast midweek, and while it will produce a little snow north of Interstate 90, it will be more memorable for it's subsequent shot of cold air. The areas to the lee of lakes Eire and Ontario will be lining up for lake effect snow, and because the recent mild spell has kept the lakes ice free and relatively warm for this time of year, the potential is there for some tremendous amounts of snow...right now it's looking pretty promising. This will be pure arctic stuff, capable of keeping daytime temps in the mountains in single digits. Again, look for the guns to keep on cranking, and trail counts, which have taken a hit during the past ten days of mild weather, will be on the rise once again."
Timberline usually gets a hammered in these lake effect snows, so maybe there is some hope.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 01-02-2004).]
That all said, accuweather.com does show colder temps moving in as early as Tuesday of this coming week for Fairfield, PA (near Liberty). The trend from there appears to be cold temps (below freezing) for daytime highs with lows in the teens at night. This should allow the folks at Snowtime, Inc. to fire up those snow guns AND its early enough in the year that its worth building that base. So keep you fingers crossed!
The upswing for us mid-Atlanticers is that with the moderation in weather out west, perhaps that indicates a longer term change in weather patterns. Utah still needs lots of snow to make up for the five year drought but criminy-- it's five degrees out there and sixty here. One place is too cold to ski (almost) and the other place is too warm to ski (almost). A little moderation in all things would be welcome!
See you all the week of the 12th...
Will keep the temps in mind; the operative word for this trip is "if the sun comes out." Freshies are nice but so is a little bluebird every now and then. Perhaps the next big trip out west will be in March next year. And I think by late Jan this warm spell will be but a depressing memory!
NOW, the big question, even should bother trying it this weekend or bag it!?
I know lot of folks slam east coast skiing but we don't have it so bad. Yes, our runs may not be a long or as steep as we like, the coverage may be skimpy and icy at times, the lifts slow and rickety, and the slopes can be packed on weekends .. but it doesn't cost us a $72 lift ticket. We laugh and share our slopes with friends and neighbors; you would be hard pressed to find any Bogner bunnies on the slopes of Wisp or Whittail. We come for the fun not the fashion. We get EC powder on occasion and enjoy it all the more for its rarity.
I -like- East Coast skiing! It's always different and many times challenging. And if you can ski East Coast you can ski anywhere.
Scheduling a trip the last minute based on snow conditions doesn't hurt either. I didn't buy my Utah tickets until the week before my vacation was planned- and whichever state had the most snow got my business. ($72 a ticket? Not at Brighton or Snowbird! But I guess Utah is cheaper than Colorado...)
It's too bad you guys didn't enjoy the powder. Perhaps this gives you a reason to switch to snowboarding- all that is required to enjoy powder is a slight switch of weight to your rear leg. Or you can buy some of those wide powder skis- something that I'm sure my wife will be looking into before the next westward journey!
I was hoping for an outing this weekend, but I'll do other chores and save my $$ for the approaching winter weather.... :-)
Good luck out west Roger!
Despite some wild temperature swings, it was a above-average December for the East.
5 degrees out West always seems to feel like 20 degrees back East, especially if the sun is out.
Check out Honeycomb Canyon and Headwall Forest at Solitude. Yum!
Yeah, the West has been dumping and they have our cold air! ;-(
Looks like we can enjoy a few nice warm days, and then be back with some cold air and fresh snow.
OR we could all hop on the plane and be in SLC in 5 hrs ...
Overall, the west has better conditions and snowmaking than Europe but Europe has better views, nicer restaurants, and lots of high-speed lifts at the better resorts: St. Anton, Lech, Courchevel, Ischgl, etc.
Europe just received a good dump last weekend and is very cold right now--so the snow should stay good for a while. If you are looking for the best price, book everything ala carte through a resort web site and do not go through a travel agent since travel agents rarely offer accomodations below the 2 star level. A 2 star in Austria is all you need--it's 100 times nicer than Day's Inn.
You can fly to Munich in January for less than $400 RT (non-stop on Lufthansa), stay at a 2 star in STANTON for less than $65 a night, and get a 4 day ski pass for about 131 Euros (which brings your per day lift pass down to the $40 range).
At these rates, a 4 day trip will cost you about $1,000--less if you can share costs with another traveler. Per day costs also go down the longer you stay. In other words, despite the record Euro, Europe is still affordable. You just need to be sure to go when conditions are good.
Finally, beer is still cheap in Europe (usually less than soda), and the cheapest restaurant in St. Anton is the Sparr Markt food market. Buy yourself some nice cheese, bergwurst, bread, yogurt, fruit, chocolat, and salad stuff and eat in your room. I do this all the time and have my big meal at lunch on the mountain. This is what many Euros do to save cash. Also, if you get a group together, appartments with kitchens are faily cheap to rent.
Here are some web sites of use:
Weather and Snow Conditions in Europe:
Lodging at Alta/Snowbird is extremely pricey because they are the two most popular mountains for hard-core skiers and there is very, very little lodging up in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Supply + demand = $$$$$$$$$
On several Utah trips I've stayed down in Salt Lake City or in Ogden and saved a lot of money on lodging. That also enables more convenient access to several areas. Wherever you stay, don't forget the hot tub! More important than a bed.
Colorado can be pretty pricey. If you want to stay in Vail or in Aspen, open up your wallet. Fortunately, you can save a lot of money visiting either resort by staying in Avon or Snowmass, respectively. Larger choice of accomodations = price savings.
As I said earlier, Europe depends heavily on the conditions because they still have not embraced snowmaking on the scale of most North American destination resorts. In the three trips I've made to the Arlberg, I've never had a bad time because the snow usually stays firm above 2000 meters for weeks at a time. Europe does not have the big thaws at altitude that we have here in the NE. But during long, dry spells, lower slopes can get beaten up and so it sometimes pays to download on a gondola or tram for that last run rather than fight the ice on the lower runs. This is more true at St. Anton than Lech and Zuers, which are at a higher elevation. Europe could easily solve this problem with more aggressive snowmaking at lower altitude but they are resisting snowmaking because of the concerns (many of which are false) of environmentalists.
With that being said, grooming, which used to be horrible, is now up to Okemo or Deer Valley standards. Liftlines are not a problem at better resorts because there's been so much investment in high-speed quads, 6-packs, and even 8-packs. Also, mountain restaurants are superb. They offer a great variety of food ranging from restaurant quality meat dishes to huge salad bar offerings to pastry shop quality deserts. Views from these resaurants also tend to be impressive. Its nice to just sit outside and soak in some sun and spectacular mountain views. The Europeans prefer sitting in the sun to skiing and that's why I usually eat lunch early and ski between 12 and 1.
With regard to the white stuff, Europe depends on a handful of big dumps for snow. They had one such dump last weekend. If you can hit a resort like the Arlberg just after a dump, it's beyond spectacular. After a 3 meter dump last year at Lech, I spoke to a Doppelmayeur lift representative on the Ruffi tram at 0800 in the morning. I said, "this sure beats riding the DC metro at rush hour." He said that he had travelled to resorts around the world for his entire career and never experienced snow and skiing like we had been experiencing for past 8 days.
I think your friend would have a blast off-piste in the Arlberg--it's world-famous for off piste. There's lots of incredible couloirs, cornices, cliffs, steep back bowls, etc. Trees, on the other hand, are few and far between--only Lech and Rendl have trees in any great number. Every book store in St. Anton sells an illustrated guide book to off piste in the Arlberg, but you really need to hire guide and rent avi equipment. The avalanche hazards can be extreme and other hazards exist as well such as 1,000 foot cliffs. It's ok to ski off-piste within 10 meters of a marked trail but if you want to really go off-piste, a guide is your best bet.
I guess my point in all this is that if you have never skied Europe and it's the same price as Utah, it's worth a try, especially if you can go just after a dump. I'd limit my destinations to:
Trois Vallees (Courchevel/Mirabel/Val Thorens), France
Espace Killy (Val D'Isere/Tignes), France
Chamonix has some of the best off-piste but lifts are not as advanced as other places so I hesitate to include this destination.
Also, Ischgl (Silvretta Arena) has nearly the extent of terrain as the Arlberg, but the runs are a little less steep than St. Anton. Another good, snowsure resort for intermediates in Austria is Soelden/Obergurgl in the Oeztal alps.