It’s been a typical early season at Red Mountain. There hasn’t been an exceptional amount of new snow, but enough, with fresh lines aplenty for those brave enough to navigate the off-piste obstacle course. Crowds have been as scarce as any evidence of summer grooming. There are some new faces checking tickets and loading chairs, tasty new brews in Rafters, and somebody has been busy putting up signs, but little else has changed. With the much hyped “Own the Mountain” crowd-funding campaign losing momentum, and the massive new concrete skeleton in the parking lot still just a massive concrete skeleton, perennial community concerns about over-development seem misplaced. My friends, family and I are all healthy, taking time to enjoy skiing that gets a little better every snowfall. Merry Christmas.
Category Archives: Red Mountain
Blue skies, fresh snow, and a surprisingly substantial base made for a great opening day at Red. The long first chair line-up and the frothing of marketing staff trying to generate hype were soon forgotten bouncing turns down fields of un-tracked powder, and by mid-morning we were skiing straight onto the chair. It’s low-tide on the lower mountain, with obstacles aplenty on poor line choices, but we were still finding fresh lines until we eventually gave our early season legs a break. The poutine and craft beer in Rafters were as tasty as ever.
Storms keep rolling in from the Pacific, in what is proving to be one of the wettest winters on record. As is common in March, conditions fluctuate widely, varying by elevation, aspect and the hour. I’ve been obsessing over the forecasts, calculating how to be in the right place at the right time, enjoying boot deep powder, carving groomers in the sunshine, and everything in between. With heavy rain pelting on the roof and depleting the snow banks my yard, chillaxing (a term currently favored by my nephews) with coffee is the call for this morning.
It seems the endlessly snowy weather pattern we’ve been enjoying has come to its inevitable end. With high pressure entrenched, the sun is shining above valley cloud, cold temps and light winds are preserving deep light snow on all aspects, and unlimited powder skiing is there for the taking.
These are the days. Those we dreamed of, and will look back on with nostalgia. A substantial solid early season base covering and adhering to every obstacle, blanketed with a well bonded consistent cushion of soft stable medium density snow, then topped by a succession of cold storms. With more terrain at Red than anemic pre-Christmas crowds could track, a never before seen extent and quality of summer clean-up and brush clearing, and a sunny windless Christmas day to top it off, it’s been a wonderful time to be healthy and skiing.
With nothing but clear skies in the alpine and persistent valley fog under an inversion this past week, claiming 5cm of new snow seemed at first just typical marketing BS by Red Mountain Resort, or perhaps a new policy to count the results of snow-making into their results. But the weird thing is, there actually is that much new snow all around the base area. I did some research into what might might be going on, and the closest I tell is that we’re experiencing unusually heavy pogonip. The word pogonip is a meteorological term used to describe an uncommon occurrence: frozen fog. The word was coined by Native Americans to describe the frozen fogs of fine ice needles that occur in the mountain valleys of the western United States in December. Interestingly researchers in the UK found that most cases of the frozen fog were linked to some sort of human activity, like a local factory or plant–that released moisture into the freezing sky and that became snow. Given that Red’s snow making guns have been running 24/7 of late, it’s not that much of a stretch to conclude that in these atmospheric conditions, Red’s snow making is seeding the fog and actually producing snowfall across a much wider area than ever intended.
While we’re still another significant snowfall away from being able to open, I’ve been finding places to wiggle around in the sunshine.
Despite recent snowfalls, the ski hill has been deserted of late. My brother and I have pretty much had Granite to ourselves. In case anyone’s still interested in skiing, there’s been about 10cm of new snow over the past 3 days. It’s enough to make everything look smooth and pretty and is a huge improvement over the firm frozen conditions of just a few days ago, but it’s a little too light to fully cushion the crust (see below). It appears we’re going to get hit by a continuous series of storms from Wednesday on. Unfortunately it’s going to be warm and wet yet again.
While waiting for this very welcome snow to accumulate, I’ve been geeking out on snowfall statistics, and thought it’d be interesting to calculate what is the actual average annual snowfall at Red Mountain. The Resort publicizes the 300″ figure, but even by their own inflated figures we haven’t got close to that amount in recent history. Tony Crocker at BestSnow credits Red with 275″ per year, but even that seems a bit high. So I made up a spreadsheet, correlating Red’s figures, Tony Crocker’s data, and Rossland snowfall data back to 1905, made a few assumptions, and came up with some interesting results.
10 year average: 203″.
20 year average: 214″.
30 year average: 200″
40 year average: 204″.
We almost always get something in the range of 150″ – 250″, with extremely rare drought years (1977 and 1992) and the occasional powderfests (1975,1983, 1997, and 1999). With 118″ by the end of January, we’re having an average year.