Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

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Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:25 pm

After 9 ski days in LCC and obvious heavy crowds expected Sunday, Liz was eager to try someplace new and Powder Mt. was first on her list. Powder Mt. had received only 2 inches Friday night and admin had the impression the Saturday storm was headed south. But I thought Saturday’s storm was so strong that it might be more widespread, so I checked the Powder Mt. website which claimed 11 inches fell during the day. Admin called a passholder friend Eddie, who confirmed the report and encouraged us to come. The clincher was a bulletin that the LCC road would be closed for avy control at 6AM, requiring admin to get up at 5AM to beat it.

So admin arranged for all of us to meet Eddie at the top of Hidden Lake by 9AM Sunday and get his local’s tour. The upper half of Powder Mt. was in thick fog much of the day, but most of the skiing was in or near the trees. And in March it’s a big plus to keep the sun off the new snow with the predominant east and west exposures.

We first took the Poma and skied scattered trees into Cobabe Canyon where we met the new Raintree snowcat. The snow was of course excellent and nearly untouched but not exactly photogenic.
IMG_4312.JPG


Later in the day during a partial clearing I took a picture from the Paradise lift.
IMG_4338a.JPG

Raintree is at distance upper right.

After Raintree we rode the Paradise and Hidden Lake lifts. South facing Powder County was closed so we had to ski to the Timberline base, then take a short bus shuttle to Sunset. From the top of Sunset we skied to the Lightning Ridge snowcat which I had done before in 2007 and 2012. We first took a lap back to Sunset. Liz there:
IMG_4317.JPG


On our next lap we traversed south to get a longer run as in 2012.
IMG_4321.JPG


Here’s the view from the same spot to more Lightning Ridge and north side Paradise terrain.
IMG_4320.JPG


And here are the goods in Candyland. Admin:
IMG_4325a.JPG


Eddie:
IMG_4326.JPG


Admin at the bottom:
IMG_4331.JPG


We rode the 2 lifts to Hidden Lake Lodge and had lunch about 2:20PM. When we came out it was snowing. We took two Poma runs, one back to Hidden Lake and one skier’s left in Cobabe Canyon to Paradise. By the time we got back up top it was just past 4PM so we called it a day. We skied 15,400 vertical, about 10K of it mellow and no pressure powder. This was exactly what we needed after the past 3 high energy days in LCC.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:43 pm

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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby EMSC » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:06 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Press about the new owners:


Can't quite explain why, but I found the Guardian article rather hilarious to read with all the pretend altruism and "we're so enlightened" BS.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby jojo_obrien » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:15 pm

one of the best kept secrets and hidden gems in the country is about to change, not for the better IMO

powmow doesn't offer the thrill of the cirque but the no "powder pressure" that TC highlights makes up for it. love the new terrain as of last year but fearful of paradise/eden lost....
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby baldyskier » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:46 pm

EMSC wrote:
jamesdeluxe wrote:Press about the new owners:


Can't quite explain why, but I found the Guardian article rather hilarious to read with all the pretend altruism and "we're so enlightened" BS.

"exclusive, socially conscious community"... Isn't that a little oxymoronic?
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby kingslug » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:12 am

Got my popcorn..will be interesting to see what this all becomes.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby Marc_C » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:16 pm

jojo_obrien wrote:one of the best kept secrets and hidden gems in the country is about to change, not for the better IMO

powmow doesn't offer the thrill of the cirque but the no "powder pressure" that TC highlights makes up for it. love the new terrain as of last year but fearful of paradise/eden lost....

Maybe, maybe not. One of the reasons it's such a "hidden gem" is that a ton of people in the SL valley don't go there due to the distance. One of the other reasons is an almost total lack of advertising. While the latter can change, and change things, the former will always be the case.
I'm with kingsluggy in the pop-corn department.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:59 pm

"MarcC wrote: One of the reasons it's such a "hidden gem" is that a ton of people in the SL valley don't go there due to the distance.

Utah locals are really spoiled. 2 hours one way is routine for daytripping in a lot of regions, like Big Bear from most of SoCal. I get the impression that a lot of Ogden locals have passes at Snowbasin for the same convenience reason.

Bu there are other issues at Powder Mt. I've skied 4 days there and all have been cherry picked for current or very recent powder and usually on a day when LCC would be crowd impacted.

In season reported snowfall Dec.-Mar. since 2007 is 115% of Snowbasin's, which translates to ~360 inches per season. That shares the dubious honor of largest discrepancy to "brochure quote" (PowMow claims 500) with Big Sky of any area in North America. In low snow years with no snowmaking it takes awhile to get a lot of terrain open. Paradise chair did not open in 2017-18 until nearly the end of February.

As noted elevation range of 6,900 - 8,900 is on the low side for Utah and exposures are mostly east and west. The Powder Country bus runs, some of the best fall lines, face south and are still not open this season.

So yes Powder Mt. has unique attributes and it's always on my radar for that optimal combination of factors listed above, but the reality is that combination doesn't materialize all that often.

baldyskier wrote:"exclusive, socially conscious community"... Isn't that a little oxymoronic?

Yes, and it's easy to take the view of the Guardian article that EMSC did. However, while the new owners may want their exclusive little real estate enclave, I don't see that they want to massively increase skier visits. I get the impression they like the Powder Mt. ski experience the way it is.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby kingslug » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:43 am

A new lift to open up some of that vast acreage would be nice. Never had a bad time there but found the lift served to be a bit flat.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby EMSC » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:55 am

Tony Crocker wrote:That shares the dubious honor of largest discrepancy to "brochure quote" (PowMow claims 500) with Big Sky of any area in North America.


That now makes me curious what the claim vs reality snowfall #'s are at Big Sky... realizing of course that I was just there in an above average season for them.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:16 pm

Hah, Tony's been complaining about Big Sky's brochure quote for years.

In a similar vein, It seems anecdotally like most of the main offenders in the Alps Pistegate scandal from a few years ago have downgraded their marketing claims -- and Americans don't care because we know that piste length is a red herring.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11415
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:37 pm

It was easy for someone in Europe to measure piste length (Google Earth, etc.?), so that was kind of a dumb thing for resorts to exaggerate.

I saved the Epic thread which shed some historical perspective upon Big Sky:

Tony Crocker, 8/30/2016 wrote:Quote = drewguy:
Is that at the Peak?

No. It's impossible to measure snowfall accurately in an exposed location like that. Every ski area with high alpine terrain has this issue and has to measure in a more sheltered location. Given Big Sky's ski elevation range of 6,970 - 11,145, the patrol plot at 8,903 is a good representative altitude to measure the snow.

Originally Posted by sibhusky:
I'm sure it's annual, including any freak storms after they close for the season.

Originally Posted by drewguy
I have a hard time believing that they get 10 feet of snow before/after ski season to get to 400", if the data show 288" average at the Lobo measuring point (I think that's the one Tony's referring to).


No, the 288" may not include snow after closing but it includes all of October, which I almost never count for other ski areas (some of you may recall I used to quote 260 for Big Sky starting Nov. 1). Given that caveat, I doubt the annual average is much over 300. Nobody gets appreciable snow in September. Only Front Range Colorado and the Cottonwoods average much more than a foot in May.

Quote = drewguy:
Tony - where do they come up with the 400" number?


Somebody made it up, a very long time ago. How do I know this? As a newbie skier I bought a couple of resort guides in the late 1970's. The Miles/Jaffe book on North America's top 50 resorts, published in 1978, includes the 400 inch snowfall claim for Big Sky, which opened in 1973. The authors bought the claim hook, line and sinker and rated Big Sky's snow along with Alta, Snowbird and Targhee as best in North America. This was long before the Lone Peak tram was installed in 1995, so any claim that the 400 is a "top of the mountain estimate" lacks credibility because top of the ski area then was 9,800 feet.

IMHO the fault here lies with the credulous ski media, which publishes whatever they are spoonfed about annual snowfall with not the tiniest effort at fact checking. You look at magazine resort guides, ski websites, that 400 inch claim is everywhere and has been since the 1970's.

I have sympathy for the current Big Sky marketing/patrol people. I've had some informal communications, they know the number is way off, say they might raise the issue with higher management. They would prefer to emphasize the positives that can be verified, like the snowfall consistency I mentioned, but what are they to do? The 400 inch claim has been out there for 40 years and I doubt anyone there now has any more idea that we do where it came from. I'm probably the only ski journalist who has questioned it. Are they really going to call all these magazines/websites and tell them to change the number from 400 to 300?


This elicited the following response from a longtime Montana local.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Studebaker Hawk

I had the chance to ask Jim Kanzler that question before he checked out.

Jim was the 1st Patrol Director and went on to fame if not fortune at JHMR as Rathole. He helped create the original Mtn Ops plan at Big Sky in the early 70s.

His response was that they had a couple of real good years those first few and extrapolated that number. In other words it was a WAG.


Tony Crocker, 8/31/2016 wrote:This is plausible. Big Sky's opening season 1973-74 was a spectacular one in the northern Rockies. It was Bridger's record high December-March at 145%, so may well have been Big Sky's only season over 400 inches. The 18 months I have for Bridger during the 5 seasons 1973-74 through 1977-78 average 120% of normal. Same is true for Big Sky's own 3 years of data through 1975-76 (most of 1976-77 and 1977-78 are missing at Big Sky). 120% supports a WAG of 350 but not 400.

Obviously I would welcome the implementation of drewguy's suggestion [Lower the brochure quote to 300 and blame it on changing weather patterns, global warming, etc.]. They can plausibly say the 400 inch claim was based upon the first few years of operation, but after 40 years it's now clear those were unusually high snow years.

Big Sky is not the only operation to make this kind of mistake. Consider the allocations of Colorado River water based upon an anomalously wet period in the early 20th century.


As far as Powder Mt. is concerned, many Utah areas seem to think that since they are in the same state as LCC they get to make snowfall claims in the same ballpark. Powder Mt. is the most extreme but not the only offender.
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:50 am

Tony Crocker wrote:many Utah areas seem to think that since they are in the same state as LCC they get to make snowfall claims in the same ballpark. Powder Mt. is the most extreme but not the only offender.

Could you provide a link to specific Utah snowfall reality-checks that you've posted in the past?
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby EMSC » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:24 pm

That's a fascinating history for Big Sky. And definitively an above average example of snowfall inflation. There are certainly many 50-75" examples in the western US though (my home ski area included).
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Re: Powder Mt., Utah, March 18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:45 pm

https://www.skiutah.com/resorts/compare ... Menu%20Bar

I don't systematically collect "brochure quotes" but those on the Ski Utah site above aren't too bad aside from Powder Mt.

I'm fairly sure Brian Head used to claim 400 and Eagle Point 450 but those have been toned down to more reasonable levels.

Park City's 360 is at the top of Jupiter Bowl. 90% of PCMR and Canyons get under 300 and the base gets 150. Deer Valley claims 300, which is in line with EMSC's comments about Colorado areas.

Alta claims 551, which was actually true for a 20 year period starting in 1992. But the full 37 years of Alta Collins average 521. The 551 could include October which I usually leave out.

The other Cottonwood areas claim 500. That's in the ballpark at 9,500 feet, which is the middle of Snowbird and Brighton altitude range but 3/4 of the way up Solitude.

I think Big Sky and Powder Mt. are the outliers in snowfall exaggeration. The Park City situation of measuring actual snowfall at a location much snowier than most of the ski terrain is more common. "Rounding up" like EMSC mentions in Colorado is also common.
http://bestsnow.net
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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