While we’re still another significant snowfall away from being able to open, I’ve been finding places to wiggle around in the sunshine.
Category Archives: Red Mountain
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.
Despite being busy with a bunch of projects, I was determined to test out my new ski/binding set-up before a big day in the mountains tomorrow. With only a short window to ski, I did 10 quick laps on Red Mountain (the actual mountain), on a very slow day. There were a few racers training on back trail, but otherwise I had the place to myself. The views over the Kootenay Sea from the top were as magnificent as ever.
Colder temperatures and cloud frosting at lower elevations have been improving the snow day by day. In many places the crust has broken down to a soft and skiable consistency. There’s no getting around the jungle sections, but I was still finding totally fresh fields of powder-like snow in Poochies trees. The new fully-rockered skis I’m trying ate that shit up.
Shoveling 30cm of new snow off my truck as bombs echoed over the caldera and plow trucks plied the streets, all seemed right in the world. The lifts opened on time, the ropes finally dropped on Granite, and everyone who could swing it (on this first day back to school and work) got their first real powder day of the season at Red.
The top half of the mountain and any of the recently brushed areas were absolutely dreamy, but between the forest regrowth, the random holes, and the windfall, much of the lower mountain remains a challenging obstacle course. Chris from Doglotion recently summed it up as well as anyone:
“Everyone in the Kootenays who have concerns about deforestation will find satisfaction in the amount of alder Red and Whitewater are cultivating. Local herbologists know its benefits like lyphatic drainage, blood purification, and fighting diseases such as Tuberculosis. Come get your exposure to this local and organic substance as it slaps you in the face and scratches your goggles while you pick your way down the mountain. It’s also fun to watch people get their brand new gore-tex outfits shredded by it. It’s like skiing down a hill while ripping up $20 bills as fast as you can”.
51cm of new snow in the past 3 days has improved things quite a bit. Still a few bushy sections to negotiate, but if the lifts were turning we’d be skiing powder top to bottom.
It’s week later than scheduled, and only the T-Bar, but ski season has started at Red. I arrived about 10 to 9, expecting that some keeners would have lined up early, but was the only one. Eventually a few people showed up for easy soft groomer skiing, with heavy snow falling all day. After 10 laps I was pretty bored, so toured up for a run on the Cliff. Off-piste the 10cm of heavy schmoo from yesterday had frozen into a punchy crust and was topped with perhaps 5cm of new snow. I wasn’t sinking into the alder, and the turns were ok.