A-Basin, CO 4-5-21

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A-Basin, CO 4-5-21

Postby EMSC » Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:07 pm

Decent, but not as good as expected.

Why? Too many AM clouds and a moderate, but cool-ish breeze. I had planned for this day for a bit, way back when reservations were all the rage and A Basin showed exactly zero availability on weekends into May. But of course ABasin literally just stopped requiring Ikon reservations as of yesterday anyway. To boot my son's schooling has been essentially close to zero n Mondays and in-person the other 4 days of the week so I took the day off and took him for his first ever time at the Basin.

We arrived ~10:30a as I was hoping things would re-soften ~11a given the super warm temps of the past several days in Colo. However it was mostly overcast and with a wind from the south. The first lap down the lowest black mtn express lift was very hard packed and fairly scratchy with only the literal area around the lift having softened. Being my son's first time he still wanted to explore all the lift and areas so next we hit Pali to Slalom slope which had actually softened (being E facing into the AM sun) and would be nearly the only part of the resort to soften prior to 1p. Next we did a couple of firm laps on the S facing Zuma bowl (just the two groomers) directly into a 20mph wind. Both West Zuma (all the good steep stuff) and the Steep Gullies on the front side were flat out closed all day. I talked my son into heading back to slalom slope for a couple more soft snow laps before we broke for lunch at the mid-mountain BML.

Finally the clouds disappeared during lunch. heading back out ~1p we tried Zuma again just as it was softening for some excellent corn turns. after a couple of those laps my son wanted to try the East Wall which was very firm with an odd mix of re-frozen, bits of chalky in random N facing spots, etc... In general I didn't see any clear way to find chalky. Nearly everything even at the highest altitudes seems to have been just barely softened at some point making for a odd not quite fully re-frozen Ice, but not quite chalky experience in a number of places. Either way we hit Zuma one more time before trying the "new" Beavers lift somewhere after 2p (I had wanted the softest possible conditions for new unknown terrain). It is terrain which I've never skied even though it is a couple years old now. The trail map doesn't really do it much justice. There are way more folds and dips and rolls and etc.. in the terrain pod over there than the map even remotely indicates. The two listed blue trails have to easily be the steepest blues at the Basin. More like the double-blue's of Jackson Hole or so IMO. The skiing was a mix of refrozen/icy (esp up top) a tiny bit of N facing chalky at one point, and some nicely softened turns on more N-Westerly facing stuff and lower altitudes.

My son was getting a bit tired and thirsty after a couple laps over there and I needed to find water. So we ended up at the base to get water with just enough time to hit Pali lift one more time, but this time coming down Main Street. The run was a wild mix of the not icy/not chalk for 1/3, then actually icier turns for a few turns and eventually soft spring snow by ~1/2 the way down (though only on the W facing portion of the gully).

All the good lifts were closed by then so we supplemented with 2 final soft laps on the Black Mtn Express ending ~4:15p.

So yes Colorado has gotten skunked with way too high temps (~80F for 3-4 days in a row in Denver area). That is about 20F above normal for early April and just in time for several cooler fronts to come through which will really only leave the groomers and low elevation stuff for a while (last I looked temps might trend below normal in 4-5 more days and then stay that way). Hopefully those colder days also bring a LOT of snow to cover the ice. ANd Also because I though the snowpack looked a lot more like early May than Early April at ABasin. If temps stay on the warmer side I would think they will be lucky to make it only to Mid-May this year (vs goal of early June for them).

All said It turned out OK, but it took a very long time with only ~a 2 hr window of mostly soft conditions.

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Top of Slalom Slope early


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View to East Wall


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Overcast spent much time planted firmly over only ABasin. With Keystone and breck in the background from top of Zuma


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East Wall. Note the firmness under foot.


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In Land of Giants in the East Wall
20210405_134328.jpg (76.46 KiB) Viewed 8798 times


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One portion of the upper part of the Beavers terrain. You can get to the lifft even from where you see the fence line on the next ridgeline back (to the left). It's got a lot of single diamond acres. View from top of Beaver Bowl.


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Looking a bit further left from the same spot at top of Beaver Bowl.


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EMSC
 
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Re: A-Basin, CO 4-5-21

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:26 pm

EMSC wrote:So yes Colorado has gotten skunked with way too high temps (~80F for 3-4 days in a row in Denver area). That is about 20F above normal for early April and just in time for several cooler fronts to come through which will really only leave the groomers and low elevation stuff for a while (last I looked temps might trend below normal in 4-5 more days and then stay that way).

Sometime Mammoth suffers this same issue with a premature warm spell. The north facing that normally retains winter snow gets a partial melt freeze. Then when temps revert to normal they won't soften at all until another big warmup or stronger sun in mid to late April.

The wind also becomes your enemy instead of your friend following the premature warmup. This was true during Iron Blosam week this year for the west facing steeps at both Alta and Snowbird.

I'll soon report on how Mammoth fared this time, though Staley's report from Sunday was quite favorable.
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Re: A-Basin, CO 4-5-21

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:30 am

EMSC wrote:Too many AM clouds and a moderate, but cool-ish breeze (...) with an odd mix of re-frozen, bits of chalky in random N facing spots, etc... In general I didn't see any clear way to find chalky.

Yep, that's the movie I saw at Loveland.
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