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Mythen, CH 03/08/16: Storm Day

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 5:33 am
by jamesdeluxe
Until last summer, I had no idea that the Mythen (pronounced MEE ten) region even existed, but I read several trip reports on Alpinforum that talked it up as an insider tip -- that it was a) way more extensive than you'd ever guess from looking at the trail map, b) like something from your ski childhood: uphill transport was predominantly via t-bars, c) it was cheaper than most places in Switzerland, d) had a total "your own private ski area" vibe, and e) got a fair amount of snow.

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Even through the previous evening, the forecast for overnight snow called for little more than a dusting: 3-5 inches. However, Fraser Wilkin mentioned that this was "one of those annoying (to forecasters) faintly unstable airflows that can swing either way." It certainly did -- we ended up with 12-16 inches. He also pointed out that moist northerly airflows are purged of their moisture by the Mythen range, which gives it comparatively a high seasonal snowfall average: typically 7-9 meters at 1800m compared to 3.5 meters in St Moritz. St Moritz, however, preserves its snow better, hardly gets any mid-winter rain, and does far better with mild spells. It's similar to the difference between the Portes du Soleil (high snowfall/low elevation) and Val d'Isere (less than half the snowfall but excellent preservation).

I booked a room at a small, reasonably-priced hotel right at the base of the ski area, and this morning there were a total of six cars in the parking lot across the street at 9 am... on a powder day! Alta/Snowbird, this ain't.

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First chair, I mean t-bar:
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The next four hours were a blur with snow anywhere from calf- to thigh-deep, no wind, and occasionally tough visual orientation due to the driving snow and intermittent fog. The terrain was mostly double-blue in pitch, like a massive Grand Targhee.

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Here's a guy getting ready to launch off a boulder:
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And landing in a powder cloud as his friends watch:
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By noon, it was getting nuts. Even though the snow could hardly be called champagne powder, I had my first white-room experience in many moons: ten straight turns on a steeper pitch while being completely blinded by spray.

Later in the day: a couple barns, one to sell tickets, the other a lift shack:
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As I approached, there was the unmistakable smell of wood being cut. I dig the pipe, as if it had been staged by the Switzerland Tourism Bureau:
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Re: Mythen, CH 03/08/16: Storm Day

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 12:24 am
by Tony Crocker
James truly leads a charmed life in the Alps. Peak elevation of 1,800 meters are not what most people would recommend for March in the Alps. In this case it favored James because he actually had visibility below tree line on a cold storm day.

jamesdeluxe wrote:He also pointed out that moist northerly airflows are purged of their moisture by the Mythen range, which gives it comparatively a high seasonal snowfall average: typically 7-9 meters at 1800m compared to 3.5 meters in St Moritz.

Somewhat misleading since 1,800 is the top of Mythen but near the base at St. Moritz.

jamesdeluxe wrote:St Moritz, however, preserves its snow better, hardly gets any mid-winter rain, and does far better with mild spells.

The classic "Colorado" profile.

jamesdeluxe wrote:It's similar to the difference between the Portes du Soleil (high snowfall/low elevation) and Val d'Isere (less than half the snowfall but excellent preservation).

Again, Val d'Isere's data is from its 1,850 base with skiing going up to 3,400. Avoriaz at 1,600 is mid-mountain within Portes du Soleil ski terrain.

Re: Mythen, CH 03/08/16: Storm Day

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:58 am
by jamesdeluxe
Tony Crocker wrote:James truly leads a charmed life in the Alps. Peak elevation of 1,800 meters are not what most people would recommend for March in the Alps. In this case it favored James because he actually had visibility below tree line on a cold storm day.

I could've cancelled my hotel reservation up to three days before arrival without penalty and moved my base of operations to higher ski areas 45 minutes south (Andermatt, Obersaxen, etc.). I was carefully monitoring the weather forecast before my departure and it became clear that I'd be getting midwinter temps along with a couple snow events during my stay.

Charmed?

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance 8)

Re: Mythen, CH 03/08/16: Storm Day

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:14 am
by jasoncapecod
For over ten years I have been following James's Euro trips..If memory serves, they have all been perfect. Except the one with the busted leg. Even that looked good..

I wouldn't second guess James's resort choices, domestic or foreign..

Re: Mythen, CH 03/08/16: Storm Day

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:36 am
by Tony Crocker
Flexibility raises one's rate of success considerably. I'm not surprised James had a contingency plan. So I guess the question is: How many times has James had to exercise a contingency plan?

Re: Mythen, CH 03/08/16: Storm Day

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:35 am
by jamesdeluxe
Tony Crocker wrote:How many times has James had to exercise a contingency plan?

The only time in recent memory was the late January visit to Savoie, when it rained one day pretty much everywhere in the Alps except at the highest elevations and had been forecast more than a week in advance. My contingency plan was drinking beer in a Ch√Ętel pub.