Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

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Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby ChrisC » Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:04 pm

Not a great start for the year:

CA - not good
Utah - ditto
CO - meh, not enough coverage for anything steep (outside of Wolf Creek)
NW - was good until this last tropical wave hit - WA, OR rain top to bottom. Inland - looks like inland got rain too/maybe some sloppy snow on top.
WY - maybe good at Targhee, but I doubt Jackson's Lower Faces are any good

Also looking inland ID, MT areas - very little snow. Lost Trail, Discovery Basin, MT Snowbowl, Red Lodge - all barely 50-70% open. Sure there are a ton of rocks at Big Sky and Bridger. Thought they might be better.

The PowderChaser Steve from OpenSnow took off to Hawaii :-k :shock: https://opensnow.com/dailysnow/chase

Hopefully, weather patterns change soon.

The East Coast does not look any better....
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:47 pm

Snowave tells me that his local areas Tamarack and Brundage out of McCall ID are OK. Not great, but at least with 4 foot bases. Those and Bogus Basin will be our first stops in early February after Utah.

Liz is in Kristen Ulmer's clinic at Alta Jan. 28-29. There's a NASJA event in Ogden Feb. 1-3. Snowbasin and Powder Mt. are both barely half open, so those days rate to be not too exciting.

The obscure Montana places are where we hope to be around President's weekend. They are not so different from the Ogden areas right now but at least there's an extra two weeks for them to improve. We could switch out and do those places later or not at all if they stay bad. We will be flexibly road tripping until returning to Utah for Iron Blosam Week Mar. 6-13.

I don't worry about the NW and interior NW areas so much despite this week's rain because at least they have adequate snow on the ground and rate to get resurfaced sometime before February.

Bridger's opening was delayed and Big Sky's 55% open at New Year's was the lowest in my data of 21 seasons. We have no plans to visit those places. Montana normally benefits from La Nina but only Whitefish and Lookout are in adequate shape now.

By region I have the following percents of normal snowfall as of Jan. 8. None of those numbers will improve this week.
California 63%
Pacific Northwest 117%
Interior Western Canada 125% (thanks, COVID)
US Northern Rockies 86% (Whitefish and the Tetons are 90+%, everywhere else is subpar)
Utah 69% (LCC ~80%, terrible elsewhere)
Front Range/I-70 72%
Southwest 83% (Wolf Creek is at 118%, the rest not so different from Front Range)

Let's not forget that the Northeast (72% plus lots of rain) has had a dreadful start, probably second worst to 2015-16 of past 20 years.

We have seen this movie before (Northwest and western Canada good, everything else bad) not so long ago in 2017-18.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby ChrisC » Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:46 am

Almost any non-US major ski country is doing well snowfall-wise:

Western Canada - as noted above. Wonder how well the cat and heli operations are doing operationally? Some were closed like Purcell heli, and Mustang/Chatter Creek have prime dates available.

Europe - Huge snows in Italy, southern Switzerland/Austria in December and January. And a major northern stau storm hitting the northern Alps now. However, no one can ski - except the locals in Switzerland and Austria - possible February openings. Doubt the Brits will be allowed in anytime soon.

Japan - according to the website skijapan.com - snow every day since December 24 in Niseko. And the Honshu island areas (Hakuba, Myoko) seem to be on par.


Vail just released metrics YTD 1/3/21
http://investors.vailresorts.com/news-releases/news-release-details/vail-resorts-reports-certain-ski-season-metrics-season-date-22

Not that bad - skier visits down only 16%?! Passholders were doing great! The non-passholder numbers were off - understandably.

Visitation across our North American resorts declined relative to prior year levels, primarily as a result of declines in visitation from non-pass, lift ticket purchases. We expect these declines were primarily driven by reduced demand for destination visitation at our western resorts and COVID-19 related capacity limitations which were further impacted by snowfall levels that were well below average at our Colorado, Utah and Tahoe resorts through the holiday season. Visitation was particularly impacted in regions where heightened COVID-19 related restrictions exist, including Whistler Blackcomb, Tahoe and Vermont.

Looks like the pass strategy is really helping them this year.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Jan 15, 2021 1:35 pm

ChrisC wrote:a major northern stau storm hitting the northern Alps now.

Our Alps expert Fraser Wilkin sez: "About 70cm of fresh there in the last 3 days. 150-200cm in some northeastern parts of Swiss Alps + Arlberg"

In a non-pandemic year, I would be leaving soon for my annual January trip.
#-o
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby flyover » Fri Jan 15, 2021 1:55 pm

Tony Crocker wrote: Interior Western Canada 125% (thanks, COVID)


ChrisC wrote: Western Canada - as noted above. Wonder how well the cat and heli operations are doing operationally? Some were closed like Purcell heli, and Mustang/Chatter Creek have prime dates available.


For COVID reasons, Mustang has yet to open for the season. I think they usually get started in early December. First they pushed back opening to January 10, then to January 21, now to February 15. https://www.mustangpowder.com/ (Note the red banner at the top of the home page.)

Meanwhile in BC:

Although cases are currently trending down, Premier Horgan is considering an inter-provincial travel ban: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british- ... -1.5872970

... and Big White has experienced a 162-case (so far) cluster related to staff housing and has cancelled all non-local bookings until Feb. 5: https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/c ... r-BB1cHtHe https://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/big ... -february/
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:18 pm

I had not checked out Mustang's website. They have a lengthy page describing all of their COVID mitigation plans, but no reason is given for them pushing the opening date.

Island Lake is not only open, but is taking day skiers to make up for the lost multiday reservations like us:
https://www.islandlakelodge.com/dayskiing/book

My son Andrew is a liftie at Mammoth this season. He says he's never seen it so empty. That's mostly due to the hotel/rental ban. But he also says ungroomed terrain has lost some of its snow cover over the past two weeks. Groomers are in excellent shape with ongoing snowmaking topoffs, but not I'm not motivated to evade the rental ban for that. A couple of Garry's friends are in Mammoth at a private house now. They say the usual sheltered area under Drop Out 3 (traversing in from Cornice) is good with windsift. But that, Cornice and Dave's are all that's open at the top of Mammoth now.

Tahoe should do better than Mammoth as it has had more natural snow and its regional hotel ban got lifted this week.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby flyover » Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:25 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I had not checked out Mustang's website. They have a lengthy page describing all of their COVID mitigation plans, but no reason is given for them pushing the opening date.


It's a little tricky to find, but Mustang does explain. Click on the red banner, then click on "click here to read more" and it will lead you to this:

https://www.mustangpowder.com/wp-conten ... pening.pdf
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:29 pm

The B.C. regulations Mustang mentions must not be mandatory or else other places would not be open.
Chatter Creek appears to be open: https://chattercreek.ca/chatter-creek-a ... 2020-2021/
Monashee Powder Cats is open for Canadians and offering shorter trips: https://www.monasheepowder.com/rates-dates

But Baldface has cancelled its entire season: https://baldface.com/

In other news, Valhalla cat skiing was formerly affiliated with Snowwater heliskiing. Snowwater sold Valhalla to Baldface, who will continue to run it as a day operation, though presumably not this season.

K3 Snowcat, the tenure just west of Mustang, appears to be open for both day and lodge skiing: https://www.k3catski.com/availability.htm

COVID restrictions in Ontario/Quebec have cancelled Patrick's Ottawa local race coaching for at least a month. See above for suggestions for what he might do during that time!
http://bestsnow.net
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby flyover » Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:25 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:The B.C. regulations Mustang mentions must not be mandatory or else other places would not be open.


Interesting. I hadn't bothered to look at other operations. I also haven't really read the restriction order cited by Mustang as the reason they have not yet opened.

It seems possible that different operators simply have different interpretations of just how mandatory the order is. Of course, there may also be questions of enforcement.

I also wonder if different operators may also have different risks in terms of the extent of their losses in the event they start their season, but then get shut down. It would seem to me that day operators might have less to lose in that regard.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby sierra_cement » Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:46 pm

ChrisC wrote:Not a great start for the year:

CA - not good
Utah - ditto
CO - meh, not enough coverage for anything steep (outside of Wolf Creek)
NW - was good until this last tropical wave hit - WA, OR rain top to bottom. Inland - looks like inland got rain too/maybe some sloppy snow on top.
WY - maybe good at Targhee, but I doubt Jackson's Lower Faces are any good

Also looking inland ID, MT areas - very little snow. Lost Trail, Discovery Basin, MT Snowbowl, Red Lodge - all barely 50-70% open. Sure there are a ton of rocks at Big Sky and Bridger. Thought they might be better.

The PowderChaser Steve from OpenSnow took off to Hawaii :-k :shock: https://opensnow.com/dailysnow/chase" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Hopefully, weather patterns change soon.

The East Coast does not look any better....


You are making me feel better about not having a single ski day this season so far. I'm hopeful that I can do a weeklong trip to Heavenly in Feb and Kirkwood in March. I hope the lodging provider doesn't cancel our reservations like they did for MLK weekend.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby ChrisC » Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:33 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I don't worry about the NW and interior NW areas so much despite this week's rain because at least they have adequate snow on the ground and rate to get resurfaced sometime before February.


When living in Seattle, I was always amazed by how maybe 8"+ of denser Cascade/NW snow can quickly resurface the mountain after a rain event.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby ChrisC » Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:41 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:
ChrisC wrote:a major northern stau storm hitting the northern Alps now.

Our Alps expert Fraser Wilkin sez: "About 70cm of fresh there in the last 3 days. 150-200cm in some northeastern parts of Swiss Alps + Arlberg"

In a non-pandemic year, I would be leaving soon for my annual January trip.
#-o


I hear you....

Lech this morning on Facebook. Came across my feed https://www.facebook.com/lechzuers/
139338395_10159222232668447_6705185096054893082_o.jpg



My best week of resort skiing was St. Anton/Arlberg in late Jan/early Feb 2019 after 2 huge northern stau storm events dumping maybe 8-10 ft.


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/worl ... -snow.html
Last edited by ChrisC on Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby ChrisC » Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:14 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:The B.C. regulations Mustang mentions must not be mandatory or else other places would not be open.



Big Red Cats based at Red Mountain, Rossland BC is open.

They have a great deal if you can score it. They start discounting open cat seats a week out. A seat can start at C$599 and go to as low as C$399 24 hours out -- that's only US $310.

https://www.bigredcatskiing.com/book-a-trip/pricing


You can see your availability odds too - before you bid.

https://www.bigredcatskiing.com/book-a- ... ailability

I was able to get some 'expert' cat seats with my brother a few years ago at 48 hours out. Pretty solid operation.
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Re: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:20 pm

The Red Mt. area has far from the reliability necessary to be confident of booking cat skiing far in advance. It is to Big Red Cat's credit that they have tailored their policies accordingly.
1) They are relatively liberal about cancelling and rain checking customers when conditions aren't good.
2) As ChrisC notes, they encourage short notice bookings. This is a good idea in view of the weather track record.
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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: Unimpressive Start to 20/21 Ski Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Jan 16, 2021 6:37 pm

By region I have the following percents of normal snowfall as of Jan. 8. None of those numbers will improve this week.

They didn't. Hopefully mid-January is the low point of the season.
California 55% (Base depths average 3 feet)
Pacific Northwest 111% (Base depths 4-7 feet are down from last week due to the rain even though there was some snow too)
Interior Western Canada 123% (Now the only region with overall good ungroomed conditions)
US Northern Rockies 82% (Most base depths around 4 feet but Bridger/Big Sky are under 3 feet)
Utah 62% (Base depths under 3 feet except LCC)
Front Range/I-70 65% (Base depths under 3 feet except Winter Park)
Southwest 74% (Base depths under 3 feet except Wolf Creek)
Northeast 69% (likely to improve over this weekend with some new snow)
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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