Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

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Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:00 pm

[-o< that there'll be a topic split.

Tony: according to Fraser Wilkin, Zermatt/Cervinia has three bragging points:
Overall Snow Quality
Snow Sure #3
Late Season #1

Do you have any annual snowfall numbers for the different elevation levels -- or even a guestimate -- or are these stats (that we in the U.S. worship) partially irrelevant? That's to say, Zermatt is another case of how ski regions in the Alps that aren't even close to receiving the most snow can still claim the most reliable conditions (i.e. Val d'Isere/Tignes)?
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Re: Zermatt, Switz., Feb. 9, 2014

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:14 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Do you have any annual snowfall numbers for the different elevation levels -- or even a guestimate -- or are these stats (that we in the U.S. worship) partially irrelevant?

Sorry, I found the answer to my own question on Wilkin's Snow-Quality Equation page.
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Re: Zermatt, Switz., Feb. 9, 2014

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:22 am

Due to the exposed, well above tree line terrain, there is not a lot of snow data from mid-mountain or higher locations representative of ski terrain. With the huge verticals in the Alps, stats from town elevations aren't terribly useful.

Fraser has not yet been willing to exchange complete data sets. But I'm fairly sure his Euro data is much more fragmented and incomplete than what I have for North America.

Frasers' Snow Quality Equation page you cite is an excellent subjective analysis IMHO. I agree with him that snow preservation factors (altitude, exposure, rain incidence) probably have greater relative importance vs. snowfall in the Alps compared to North America.

With regard to specific resort reviews I presume he has skied a lot of places in the Alps, but I don't know which ones. His analyses for North America are not that great because I doubt he has skied much over here. In the Alps even more than here you need to see the place personally to form an accurate opinion.
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Re: Zermatt, Switz., Feb. 9, 2014

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:30 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Fraser has not yet been willing to exchange complete data sets. But I'm fairly sure his Euro data is much more fragmented and incomplete than what I have for North America.

You're offering him a far more comprehensive product, but he's the one playing hard to get? :-k

A friend recently lent me the "Effective Negotiating" CD box set -- the one that's been advertised in airplane magazines for years. I'll have to check and see which negotiation tactic that is.
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Re: Zermatt, Switz., Feb. 9, 2014

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:20 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:You're offering him a far more comprehensive product, but he's the one playing hard to get? :-k

Yes, but this is a hobby for me, only occasionally getting me a few ski comps. Fraser is probably half my age and trying to make a living as a travel consultant. I will say that when I told Fraser I was going to Zermatt, he sent me e-mails practically every day I was over there offering weather updates and other practical advice. I would have tried to do some advance research anyway, but Fraser's advice contributed to Liz and me getting around much more than most of the Diamond Dogs on that trip.

Another point to consider is that both Fraser and I have a certain level of paranoia about misuse of our data. In December I noticed that Chris Steiner, who does the forbes.com "Top Ten Ski Resorts in the U.S." feature and had purchased my data for background info, had rolled out his own website directly using many but not all of my snow stats to calculate a "snow score" for 182 areas. I e-mailed him and informed him that with that much use of my info I needed to have final word on the content of the snow score page and design of the "snow score" formula. Fortunately he agreed to that, and the "best snow" section of the http://zrankings.com/ website now reflects my input. Chris has not yet incorporated the revised snow score into his overall PAF score. He doesn't need to redo that until next fall for the forbes.com feature, and I suspect my revisions to snow score may move the overall PAF's for some resorts in ways that are different from Chris' subjective opinion.

It is possible that Fraser would not want a comparative website about resorts in the Alps to be overly focused on snowfall when he believes that other factors are more important with respect to overall snow reliability. I wrote a North America end of season summary for Fraser's website last summer, and he took some advice from me this season about his in-season reporting for North America.
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Re: Zermatt, Switz., Feb. 9, 2014

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:46 am

Tony Crocker wrote: Yes, but this is a hobby for me, only occasionally getting me a few ski comps. Fraser is probably half my age and trying to make a living as a travel consultant.

Ah, got it.
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Re: Zermatt, Switz., Feb. 9, 2014

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:55 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:the "best snow" section of the http://zrankings.com/ website now reflects my input. Chris has not yet incorporated the revised snow score into his overall PAF score. He doesn't need to redo that until next fall for the forbes.com feature, and I suspect my revisions to snow score may move the overall PAF's for some resorts in ways that are different from Chris' subjective opinion.

LOL, that'll knock Jackson Hole well off the #1 pedestal. His site is well-done and fun to read, but lots of hyperbole.
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Re: Zermatt, Switz., Feb. 9, 2014

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:18 pm

Yes, the status of Jackson will be interesting. The issue here is not necessarily that I hammered Jackson hard for bad snow preservation. It is still the 24th ranked area for snow score. But the snow score used to be based upon rank. That means that since Jackson's snow now ranks #24 out of the 182 areas, its score would be 87 (Steiner's former formula gave Jackson a 95 snow score). I convinced him that was not the right way to compare snow reliability. If Steamboat has the 18th best snow score out of 182, that doesn't means it's snow reliability is 90% that of Alta (which no surprise tops the list and gets a 100 score). Steamboat's actual score (now meaning relative to Alta instead of rank) is 74.1 and Jackson's is 71.1.

For zranking's other factors, I suggested that Chris Steiner change the methodology from rank to percent of maximum across the board (I have no idea whether he will take the suggestion). Assuming for example that Jackson gets the 100 rating for terrain quality, it is likely (in analogy to the snow score) that the 18th ranked area probably won't get a 90 score for terrain quality.

While it's reasonable that Jackson's snow score is 71.1 vs. Alta, I think it's quite safe to say that Alta and Snowbird's terrain quality scores are going to be much higher than 71 relative to Jackson's. I do not know the details of the PAF formula, but since it contains factors for vertical drop and "town ambience," there is wiggle room for Chris to keep Jackson at the top of his list if that's what he really wants.
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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
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Re: Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:26 pm

I have Fraser's snow data now, and the relevant numbers will be published in my upcoming Zermatt feature.

The Swiss are anally secretive about their data. I visited the SLF office (Snow and Avalanche Research) in Davos twice personally in January 2013 and got nada in the way of info.

However this site is useful for several Swiss locations:
http://www.meteoswiss.admin.ch/web/en/c ... tions.html
It is summarized data, not year by year, but it is summarized by month and includes water content as well as snow. Water content at high elevation is in the ballpark with Utah's, which squares with my (and presumably james') personal experience.

The only Zermatt info from that site is from town, which only gets 99 inches per year. Fraser has annual totals for 7-10 years from various elevations in Cervinia. The unknown question is how similar Zermatt snowfall is at those same elevations. Fraser says that area of the Alps has a microclimate that is extremely difficult to forecast.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
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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Re: Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:37 am

Tony Crocker wrote:I have Fraser's snow data now, and the relevant numbers will be published in my upcoming Zermatt feature.

Congratulations on prying the data from his cold fingers. Does he have anything on the Portes du Soleil?

I look forward to this now mythic feature article. :lol:
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Re: Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:51 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:Does he have anything on the Portes du Soleil?

Avoriaz averages 316 inches, based upon 24 years of annual data indexed to 37 years at Val d'Isere, with which Avoriaz is 91% correlated. Neither site has monthly data.

Avoriaz is one of the higher numbers, but it is also 59% of the way up Portes du Soleil's vertical, which is rare in the Alps. Alps data is on average measured only 35% up the mountain vs. 50% in North America.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
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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Re: Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:13 am

During the previous gangbusters year, 2012-13, Fraser mentions that Avoriaz got 463 inches at resort level and 531 inches at 2,200 meters. Scroll halfway down:
http://www.weathertoski.co.uk/weather-s ... w-2012-13/
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Re: Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:01 pm

The 463 inches in 2012-13 is the record high for the 24 years of data.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
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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Re: Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby jasoncapecod » Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:38 pm

Hey I'm going to the Alps in January.
Mr Admin(in my best Reagan voice) post those feature articles I've been hearing about!!! :snowball fight:
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Re: Snow Quality in the Alps vs. North America

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:44 am

jasoncapecod wrote:Mr Admin(in my best Reagan voice) post those feature articles I've been hearing about!!!

According to unnamed sources, we're going to finally learn the truth about Tony's much-discussed off-piste adventure in Zermatt. Did he put himself and others at risk or was the entire narrative cynically manufactured out of whole cloth by Admin as click bait? We'll find out -- as soon as the article is posted. :-"
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