Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

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Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby EMSC » Mon Mar 15, 2021 2:38 pm

Finally a day at Eldora truly worth writing about as it's own TR.

Deep snow, White room for much of the day, etc... We only had ~8 of the heaviest slop ever at my house from the well hyped storm by Sunday morning and Eldora was only reporting 11", but it was snowing nicely and I decided to head up and take my chances with the roads. Which were in pretty decent shape really. It helps that I have snow rated tires though. A decent number of folks did show up, but with parking reservations needed and some people deciding to not brave the road conditions it was only a moderate sized crowd at best. Easily the least number of folks for a big powder day in many years though.

Freshies in some places lasted till after lunch hour, and of course secret places shall remain so. My son occasionally skied with me or stayed on trails while I went for untouched areas. Knee deep was the order of the day. Not quite blower pow, but certainly on the lighter side of things. Eldora had already reported 10" during the middle of the prior week. Despite all the snow there were actually a couple of random turns on steep moguled pitches where I hit a refrozen patch or two from the early spring warmth over a week ago (but literally only like twice and later in the day). Eventually with the White room slowing to more squalls and lighter snowfall in the afternoon.

We ate some food we brought at the bottom of Corona chair for our 15 minute lunch. Then went back up for more. At one point there was a bit of a 'uh oh' moment when the chair stopped. Turns out the entire resort lost power for a few minutes and it took 15 or so minutes to get the lifts running again. We finished up ~3:30p and headed back down to the flatlands on still well plowed roads until about 5 miles from my house where it had also been snowing heavily all day. I barely made it into my neighborhood roads that had over 20" and virtually no prior vehicle tracks (I was probably one of only ~3 vehicles to have driven anywhere on Sunday from my couple hundred residence neighborhood).

The past week should set Eldora up well for actually being able to make their late April closing date, though they are still behind where they should be in terms of snowfall YTD.

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I'm going with a solid knee deep on a 6 foot tall person.


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Hard to see in a pic, but a series of open spots in the woods with 2-4 turns each and then a 20 foot duck through trees between each for this particular stash run.


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Jr learns powder


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How to have the pow look even deeper? Use a five foot tall model of course.


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Jr goes for the face shot


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Late day patch hunting


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Hey, its your turn to clean off the car


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Finally have to bring out the big guns on shelf road (though it was pretty slow following him down)
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Mar 15, 2021 6:03 pm

This storm had a lot of hype but many places underperformed per Joel's post this morning. Eldora is particularly favored by this pattern and I'd say you got just the right amount. If you got the 4+ feet predicted, the roads might not have been open.

Only one foot for Loveland and A-Basin is shockingly low for this type of storm pulling moisture off the Great Plains. The outperformers were Aspen, Telluride and Wolf Creek with 2+ feet.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby EMSC » Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:51 pm

https://twitter.com/i/status/1371229220140158981

I should write up a quick summary of the huge 2003 storm when Eldora got 6 feet of snow as that was a very different outcome just as you suspected Tony.

If you look at the Twitter timelapse video of the snowstake I still cannot reconcile the official snow reports from Eldora. They only claimed 18" storm total. But they had 2" on the stake, cleared it4pm sat, it went over the 18inches tall stake as seen in the video, then they had another 2" after Sundays 4pm clearing of the stake. So probably at least 24" or more but....
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby tseeb » Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:14 pm

My son has been in Lafayette, CO since late on Friday. He was lucky that storm was delayed as he drove from South Lake Tahoe that day. He left not much after 5 AM after having dinner with us and spending night at cabin Thursday and I'm not sure when he arrived. He needs to be in Park City Wed. evening for Bachelor party and has pre-purchased 3-day lift ticket. Will he be able to go West on I-80 by then or will I-70 or I-70 to US-40 be a better choice?
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby EMSC » Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:11 pm

Well your son has been staying in my town then.

I would think that while I80 will be cleaned up from this storm, the next one tues afternoon through wed noonish might interfere, though much smaller. I80 through Wyoming is always a crap shoot in the winter due to severe winds and blowing snow. It is shorter to Park City if viable. I always make a day-of call on that vs I70 to Green River and up through Salt Lake (yes its an hour longer). But way less wind impacts and way more snow plows on most of I70. If I80 isn't viable its usually not worth trying to go up us40 to re-join it part way along.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Mar 16, 2021 4:08 am

It must've been odd for EMSC to have Eldora be the big winner, along with Telluride, of the Sunday storm given how it often misses out on big dumps.

Tony Crocker wrote:The outperformers were Aspen, Telluride and Wolf Creek with 2+ feet.

Also, Monarch was only supposed to get eight inches and ended up with two feet.

Northern Mountains
24" (12+12) Eldora (estimate, could be more based on the snow stake)
22" (8+14) Winter Park
12" (10+2) Cooper
12" (8+4) Copper
12" (6+6) Loveland
11" (7+4) Beaver Creek
11" (5+6) Keystone
11" (6+5) Vail (Blue Sky Basin)
10" (4+6) Arapahoe Basin
10" (8+2) Breckenridge
8" (5+3) Steamboat
6" (3+3) Vail (mid-mountain)

Central Mountains
24" (11+13) Monarch
21" (10+11) Aspen Highlands
18" (12+6) Aspen Mountain
18" (8+10) Irwin
18" (8+10) Snowmass
12" (9+3) Buttermilk
12" (5+7) Sunlight
9" (6+3) Powderhorn (might be higher, conflicting reports)
5" (4+1) Crested Butte

Southern Mountains
27" (16+11) Telluride
24" (15+9) Wolf Creek
4" (1+3) Silverton
3" (2+1) Purgatory
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 16, 2021 3:43 pm

EMSC wrote:I should write up a quick summary of the huge 2003 storm when Eldora got 6 feet of snow as that was a very different outcome just as you suspected Tony.

I remember that storm well. I was in Quebec City for the NASJA annual meeting and only 12 of the 24 western members who signed up made it. None of the Colorado people could get out of Denver, and the people farther west who had plane changes in Denver were the ones who really got screwed. I was unaffected because I had flown to Montreal early to ski Stowe, Mad River Glen and Jay Peak.

It was because of that storm, and the long term pattern of areas on the Continental Divide having a snowfall peak in March with April being second highest month, that I made the negative comments this time about Loveland and A-Basin. Monarch is on the Divide so I'd call the two feet there in the expected range.

Eldora's stake looks like the infamous Mt. Mansfield bucket in terms of not being able to measure more than 2 feet of new snow at a time. I'd guess from that video that Eldora got 3 feet minimum.

March 2003 Snowfall:

Northern Mountains:
124" Loveland
114" Winter Park
111" Berthoud Pass
102" Arapahoe Basin
90" Breckenridge
83" Copper
77" Vail
74" Beaver Creek
66" Keystone
51" Steamboat

Central Mountains:
92" Monarch
69" Snowmass
59" Aspen Mountain
43" Gothic
40" Crested Butte

Southern Mountains:
55" Wolf Creek
55" Taos
53" Telluride
41" Purgatory

2003 was clearly a Continental Divide phenomenon, as noted by the rank of the northern mountains, with long term overall region leader Steamboat dead last. And note Monarch's conspicuous edge over the other central and southern mountains, all of which are west of the Divide.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby EMSC » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:01 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:It must've been odd for EMSC to have Eldora be the big winner, along with Telluride, of the Sunday storm given how it often misses out on big dumps.


Not too much. Eldora is always in the top tier of results for an upslope storm. The other primary snow generator for Eldora is "NW Flow" events. Everything else storm wise Eldora gets leftovers at best.

Tony Crocker wrote:It was because of that storm, and the long term pattern of areas on the Continental Divide having a snowfall peak in March with April being second highest month, that I made the negative comments this time about Loveland and A-Basin. Monarch is on the Divide so I'd call the two feet there in the expected range.

Eldora's stake looks like the infamous Mt. Mansfield bucket in terms of not being able to measure more than 2 feet of new snow at a time. I'd guess from that video that Eldora got 3 feet minimum.


Too much of the storm moisture went further north than expected is my take. Cheyenne, Casper had bigger snows than expected for example. As to the Eldora stake, that is of course not the official measurement; and only a couple times per season with any storms bringing more than 12-15" or so that there would be any concern.

I'll separate out 2003 recap into it's own reply so it's easier to find/read.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby EMSC » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:36 pm

Comparison/story of 2003 Upslope blizzard as it pertains to Eldora:

Another spring cut-off low storm that ran from March 17-19, 2003 with the most impact the evening of the 18th through morning of the 19th. Similarly there was some snow but not a ton to start. The race team at Eldora has run race training at night for decades. Back in 2003 that would be Tues-Friday nights. During a several year stretch in there Eldora also lighted up their half pipe/terrain park and the public could come up (yes they had a half pipe back then, but not now).

The snow came down at huge rates starting during the training/night session after having had some (half foot+) during the day. As cars were starting to leave, so much new snow had fallen that a natural avalanche came down onto shelf road burying it and blocking in ~250 skiers and resort personnel. Everyone was stranded in the base area for the next 2 days as the steep terrain along all the mountain roads including Boulder Canyon, I-70, etc.. all were shut down due to avalanches. The steep terrain is as bad or worse than say LCC in Utah, but eastern side of the divide in CO rarely gets enough snow to cause avalanche danger.

For two nights everyone slept very uncomfortably on the floors with table linens for sheets, no change of clothes, no toothbrushes.... nothing to do during the day except try to dig out cars (no smart phones to stare at back then). The resort deemed the snow too dangerous to open up any lifts for country club skiing, plus the patrol was using the limited TNT supply to trek along above the shelf road and try to avi control it (yes Eldora has just enough steep terrain and they use small quantities of explosives for control work).

The state did fly in a helicopter to bring in medicines on the 19th. There were a couple of folks with backcountry gear that disobeyed orders and skied down to Nederland, though they took a circuitous route (up the small ridge then down to base of IP lift and down the heavily treed and mellower terrain there). Part of the fun was that being owned by Bill Killebrew at the time, the only food available was of course resort food; and yes they charged everyone for all food consumed. That is not a typo. Just one of the many fun Bill stories I can tell if you want some fun ones.

The end result was the area was closed Wed-Fri and reopened on Saturday after getting 60" of snow. By the time it reopened the sun had hit the top layer for a zipper crust and it had settled making for dense heavy turns when you could actually make them. 60" was too much for the groomers as they were only able to groom 2 trails (Jolly Jug and Hornblower to Around the horn) since the cats kept having to be dug out themselves. You've never seen so many people falling all over themselves trying to ski that stuff. At least until the initial tracking out of it by noon-ish.

I had ~36" at my condo at the time and didn't own a snow shovel (I used the lid from a hibatchi grill - really). DIA was closed for several days as Tony already indicated too.

Pictures were a bit different back then too. Here's a few small ones.

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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:56 am

EMSC wrote:DIA was closed for several days as Tony already indicated too.

I was living in Denver/Boulder during the long and arduous public discussion about building DIA and one of the big selling points from then-mayor Federico Peña to replace far more convenient Stapleton was: its cutting-edge runway design and snow mitigation equipment/procedures absolutely positively ruled out airport shutdowns due to big dumps. That and the storied automated baggage system (you can google numerous case studies about it, here's a short summary) are two of DIA's legendary fails that have been forgotten over the years.

EMSC wrote:the only food available was of course resort food; and yes they charged everyone for all food consumed.

Clearly the days before social-media shaming.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby EMSC » Wed Mar 17, 2021 10:17 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:the storied automated baggage system


That system is still sitting in a field over at DIA rusting away in the weeds believe it or not.

jamesdeluxe wrote:Clearly the days before social-media shaming.


True, though plenty of word-of-mouth shaming occurred at the time.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Mar 18, 2021 4:52 am

EMSC wrote:That system is still sitting in a field over at DIA rusting away in the weeds believe it or not.

I tried to find a pic of that image on Google Images but no dice -- do you have one? Instead, I stumbled upon this downbeat quasi post mortem from January 1995, before DIA had opened (I dig the hand-drawn map and graph at the top). 26 years later, it'd be interesting to see how much or how little of the article turned out to be accurate. Funny to see all these names from the past: USAir, Frontier (the original full-service version), Continental, Eastern, PanAm, Braniff, America West.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Mar 18, 2021 10:01 am

Perhaps EMSC can tell us what percentage of capacity DIA is operating at now. Here's the most prescient quote:
The air-travel industry in a nutshell: Most people fly by choice rather than out of urgency. When an airline inches up a fare, customers vanish. Controllable costs have to do with buying and maintaining a fleet of jets. On the uncontrollable end, any Saddam Hussein around the world can jack up fuel costs overnight. A crash begets nightmarish publicity and probably lawsuits. Deregulation replaced any shred of certainty with awesome swings in profit/loss and tactics. It's hard to imagine an industry that's less stable.

This was of course written before 9/11 or COVID-19.

The article was wrong about Southwest though. They do fly to DIA now and both Richard and James have enjoyed dirt cheap fares to DIA this ski season.
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Re: Eldora, CO - March 14, 2021

Postby EMSC » Thu Mar 18, 2021 2:53 pm

Interesting read. Lots of stuff in that article hasn't really aged all that well for predictions or major concerns. DIA had a rough-ish time of it for about the first 10 years of its existence, but then has only grown stronger and stronger per say (regionally, nationally and internationally). Pre-pandemic view was tons of people and airlines wanting to go through DIA. It slowly regained triple hubs status with United, Southwest and the new version Frontier all hubbed there by the late 00's.

The original 1995 build of the airport was supposed to handle up to 50M passengers per year, but by 2019 DIA handled 69M passengers. That plummeted to 35M passengers last year of course. Not sure what the current "% of normal" it is seeing lately, but have heard that it is enough that it actually jumped from #5 busiest to #3 busiest in the US during the pandemic due to the huge amounts of domestic flights and connections it had/has.

Due to the huge increase in passengers past and anticipated, it's spent or is spending many billions on: a 6th runway (and recently announced initial design planning for a 7th), a huge hotel attached to the terminal, a commuter train connection to downtown Denver, expansion of all 3 concourses such that by late this year it should be up to 150 gates (from 112 previously), a major terminal re-model in-process, etc...

However the first 10 years were rough for DIA for exactly the primary reason the article says: landing/passenger fees way too high. For example, Southwest only came to Denver ~2 years after the initial 10 year bonds were paid off and DIA lowered the passenger fees. That meant that United controlled it for 10+ years and flights were not very competitively priced during that stretch.

jamesdeluxe wrote:I tried to find a pic of that image on Google Images but no dice

I don't. I just remember one of the local tv news stations about ~6-8 years ago showing some of the equipment sitting in a field of 6 foot tall weeds somewhere out there as they did a follow-up story on DIA talking about how it had grown in spite of it's initial problems such as the automated baggage system.
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