Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Drought and Other Stuff . . .

According to Harvey Road, the last time the National Weather Service in Albany posted a Winter Storm for the Adirondacks was December 9th.  His Gore Snowfall total is down more than 5 feet from last year.  According to the NWS, Albany has had only 6 days with more than an inch of snow this winter and is down about 20 inches from last winter.

Depressing, yes, but fear not.  I will always remember the sign at Sugarloaf on one of the lift towers that says that its snowiest months are March, April, and February (in that order).  I'd assume that Gore is similar.  Here's hoping that this winter will be redeemed with a monster Spring.

I would like to call to your attention, though, the difference in "snow droughts" from East to West.  Talking with people in Utah, you would think that it's the end of the world out there.  When I posted the Tahawus Glade Video on my facebook page, a guy I went to college with said that there's more snow in the trees here than there was out there.  Granted, they've gotten a little more snow since then - I thought PowderQueen's TR (also on Harvey Road) looked pretty damn good to me (even she, however, put in a mild complaint - "We didn't get too much deep powder, but we made the best of what we had").  Then I checked the Statistics.  Alta had gotten 162 inches of snow before I posted my video (they're up around 250 now).

Amazing!!!  In my wildest dreams, I could only hope that we'd get 162 inches of snow this year.  Imagine someone complaining!  I know, I know, mountains out there need more snow to operate because they don't have the manicured runs that we have here, but come on!!  If I lived out west, would I become a snow snob too?  Would I look out the window, see a base depth of only 84 inches and go back to sleep?  If the answer is yes (and I think it might be), that just speaks volumes about the difference in skiing from East to West.  We ski here because it's enjoyable, fun to do with friends, and great excercise.  Out there, though, people ski because they SKI.

And that's the difference.  I had a blast on Sagamore last week.  It was great: fresh gun-pow, soft bumps, and good people.  But I stayed on Sagamore for pretty much the entire day.  That was the only place where I could SKI.  I guess it's obvious that I believe that SKIING is different than skiing.  And it seems like this year, I've had a lot more skiing than SKIING.  Don't get me wrong, I've had some great runs, but there hasn't been a day where I've been completely gung ho about pushing myself, exploring, and taking charge of a ski day.  I've mostly been taking it as it comes, finding the good snow, and lapping it until I'm tired.

Come to think of it, I always do a lot of that at the beginning of a season.  When the mountain isn't fully open, the best bet is to find the trail that they've been hammering with guns, and ski it until your legs give out.  The problem is, this year has been like an extended early season.  There's not too much separating skiing now from skiing in December or Early January.  Yeah, there are more trails open, but none that really excite me (especially since they keep grooming the trails that have character).  How many times can I ski groomed frozen granular before I get bored?  Pretty soon, I'm going to want to SKI.  I want to rip bump lines and tree lines, I want to adventure, I want to explore, I want to find a stash that no one has skied for weeks, I want to stare at big mountains, and plan tomorrow's day over a beer (because it will be different than today).  These are the things I love about skiing.  And they're the things that I can't do in an Eastern Powder Drought, but can do in a Western Powder "Drought".       


  1. Dude, you need a western vacation! It will cure what ails you, guaranteed.

    Since I've been home, I have not had the desire to ski my local hill, even with 3" of new snow (whoopie). Have I become a snow snob?

    Well, 8 days on the big mountains, with so much variety and even days after a snowfall, they still skied great, though the older the snow, the less exciting it was. I kept reminding myself that even a bad day out there is better than the best day skiing at my local hill back east.

    I go to Gore Mountain to get some more exciting terrain than my local hill offers, and typically better snow, as well as the opportunity to ski with my North Country friends.

    This weekend my friend Pam is making the journey to ski at Gore Mountain. As much as I love skiing with her, without new snow and skiing in the trees, I have no desire to make the trip.

    I'm saving my ski tickets for the big storms to come in March (fingers crossed).

    Matt, I suggest you try to get out west for a long weekend. It may be just what you need to get through this dry spell. Things will improve when you get back.

  2. There's a thread on FTO that compares the cost of skiing in Utah, vs No VT for a NYC skier. If you are smart, and you do the work, the hard costs can be comparable. You can certainly argue it both ways, convenience, the hassle of airtravel, etc.

    But Matty you live north of Albany. Even if Utah is out of reach, you can access NoVT easier. How long does it take you to get to Mansfield? It might be a long haul for a day, but in that same FTO thread there are some recommended cheapo NoVT flophouses.

    It's not Utah, but as you pointed out, there consistently great skiing up there.

    For me the key to visiting those mtns would be finding my way around. From what I've read those hills are good, but KILLER if you know where you are going.

  3. I hear you Matt. Those were some great runs on Sagamore last weekend, some of the best of the winter, and I'm glad we met up that day.

    For me, it's the tree skiing that I've really been missing for the past 3 weeks. Cold weather and snowmaking aren't going to fix that - we need a dump. So, make the best of what we've got, and know that we will eventually get the snow that we're due.

    I'm heading up shortly - I'll look for you, maybe under the guns on Rumor.

    PS - love those helmet cam shots.

  4. The FIS guys work for their pix. Where they photograph, you would not be able to find easily, however, the glades at Stowe are pretty nice and not too hard to find with a little snoopin around. Going with a local is always the way to go anywhere. Also, Jay Peak has been getting snow when no one else is. Tons of glades there. Heading there next weekend.

    Hope you have fun skiing the man-made trails today. I'm sure you'll make the best of it.