Summertime at ski and snowboard resorts in the Great Northwest packs in all manner of adventure, food and new perspectives.
We have arrived at the beginning of May, but there are still plenty of areas you can take in some turns! We take a look at who will hang onto the snow the longest.
Feet of snow is on the way for the Sierra Nevada range (Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows/Facebook)
Got that end-of-the-year spring skiing pass? Now is the time to use it! Epic March conditions continue for most of the East and parts of the West.
Skier slides down Loon in NH where all eyes are on a coastal storm. (Loon/Twitter)
Snow alert! A huge storm slams the West this week with locally up to five feet of snow. The East could be nice and snowy just in time for the weekend.
Steamboat, Colorado turned snowier during Christmas. (Larry Pierce)
A majority of Canada and U.S. resorts will experience cold weather through New Year’s Day, while a few feet of snow may fall in the West.
What's in store for next season. (Valemountglaciers.com)
A new resort is expected to open next season that would open up lift access to glaciers near Banff and Jasper National Parks that previously could only be reached by helicopter or a long, long hike.
Once all three phases of the project are done, the resort named Valemount will have the most vertical drop in North America – 6,857 feet – supplanting British Columbia neighbors Revelstoke and Whistler Blackcomb.
The resort is located in the midst of the glaciers that slide off the Premier Range near the town of Valemont, B.C. – part of the infamous Cariboos heli-skiing region. The highest peak is Mt. Sir Wilfred Laurier at 11,535, and skiing and riding will be year-round. Lifts will be designed so as to carry both skiers and ‘boarders, and sightseers.
The first phase of the project will focus on a gondola and chair that will bring skiers and riders to 8,300-foot high Twilight Glacier for 4,500 of vert down to where the resort village will be built. Subsequent phases will expand access in the Premier Range glacial fields and build out a resort village with nearly 2,300 beds, hotels, shops and an airport.
Valemount Glacial Destinations has an agreement with the provincial government to start construction this summer on the 37th resort in British Columbia. The nearest city is Calgary, Alberta – about a six-hour drive.
Developers expect to take advantage of the one-of-a-kind location in Western Canadian Rockies where many of North America’s glaciers exist.
“A combination of ideal climatic conditions and of mountains with the right elevations, great vertical and spectacular glaciers is only found in the narrow ranges of mountains on the western side of the trench that runs from Cranbrook to Prince George in British Columbia,” the resort’s master plan explained.
Nearly a foot of snow came down Monday at Alta Ski Area in Utah, and they are loving the forecast with more snow in the cards at the end of this week. (Alta /Facebook)
We turn the calendar into April in this week’s SnoCountry SnoCast. There’s still plenty of great skiing and riding to be had, with more snow in the forecast.
In this week’s outlook, I’ve got my eyes on a large storm system that will impact all areas from the Great Lakes to Northeast Friday-Saturday (March 31-April1) that will no doubt leave some bullseyes of deep snow in parts of New England and Quebec. In the West, a storm system drops in from British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest Thursday, before spreading inward by the weekend. Here’s what to expect by region for March 29 - April 3.
Eastern U.S. / Midwest: In the Northeast and Midwest, March is sure to go out “like a lion," as they say. A storm system/low pressure will track from Missouri on Thursday, east-northeastward, eventually scooting off the Southern New England coast by Saturday. On the northern side of this storm system, a swath of snow will fall from Eastern Wisconsin, to Central/Northern Michigan, then eventually spreading over parts of New York and New England. There is some discrepancy among weather models by the time this system reaches New York and New England. The trusty GFS (American) and European models disagree on exact placement of heaviest snow once the storm reaches the northeast. 3-6” is a “safe” forecast for now for most of the lower Adirondack slopes, southern Vermont and the southern White Mountains in New Hampshire, with nearly 10” in far southern Vermont and Massachusetts’ Berkshires. That forecast is more in line with the GFS.
The European is hinting at the system being a bit farther north, which would bring more widespread 6”+ amounts in the areas I just mentioned, and also spread farther north to cover more areas of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine with snow. Given that difference, it’s important to check the forecast as the time gets nearer to seek out the deepest snow for your Friday/weekend ventures to the slopes. If I had to pick some early best bets, I’d say you can’t go wrong with some central and southern Vermont mountains, and even western Massachusetts Berkshire mountains by Saturday first chair. But again, keep an eye on that forecast because the storm can shift by the weekend.
Western U.S.: The Western U.S. gets another system or two this week as energy moves into the Pacific Northwest Thursday, then eventually spreads inward by the weekend. This will mean more snow over nearly all of the higher mountains to finish March and start April. Look for anywhere from 4-9” for the Washington and Oregon Cascades, all mountains of Idaho (5-10"), and northwest Wyoming through Thursday. Then, look for new snow, probably higher totals, 6-12”, widespread for Utah’s Wasatch and Uinta Mtns, Wyoming and Colorado Rockies from Friday-Saturday. Locally higher totals will likely be squeezed out at the higher mountains, with up to 2 feet possible over the Colorado peaks. A good setup for the West into the weekend. Use caution, though, for those venturing into the Cascades. I do see high risk of avalanches after recent temperature fluxuations and wind. Ski areas typically maintain and control avalanche danger, but caution for those who seek out the backcountry.
Now remember, what I've shown you in images is a computer forecast model. There always needs to be some human interjection to make a good forecast. Thats what I do! And also what the National Weather Service does. Here's a look at the actual forecast snowfall totals from the National Weather Service. This shows through the end of Saturday, April 1. No joke!
Canada: Plenty of new snow opportunities in Canada this week. The same storm I mentioned in the Midwest/Northeast section will bring fresh snow to our Eastern Canada mountains in Quebec and Ontario Friday-Saturday. Again, depending on storm track, forecast amounts may vary by the weekend. Generally, 5 – 10 cm looks achievable, with locally higher amounts if the storm sneaks a little farther north. Just enough to soften up the trails. In Western Canada, a storm system brings ample mountain snow Thursday (March 30). Many ski areas in British Columbia and Alberta will squeeze out 20-40cm from Thursday-Friday. Enjoy that!
That's all for this week's SnoCountry SnoCast, skiers and riders. Have a blast with any new snow in your area. As always, I'll catch you next Wednesday for the next edition of SnoCast right here on SnoCountry.com.
Special thanks to Lyndon State College student forecasters Amanda Stone, Scott Myerson, and Christopher Kurdek for their weekly contributions and forecasts.
Breckenridge Ski Resort has been loving the spring-like conditions this past week, but more winter-like weather makes a quick return in the forecast. (Breckenridge/Facebook).
It’s officially spring time on the calendar, so we can now expect the weather to be even more “fickle” than in the winter. This week’s SnoCast will proves that winter weather is fighting to hang on as long as possible despite what the calendar says.
This is what 75" of snow in 7 days looks like at Snowbird. (Chris Segal)
We're turning the calendar into March, and still looking for some good turns on the slopes. While February was a blur, much of the country basked in warmer than normal temperatures. Looks like some colder air moves in for the start of the new month.
First chair at Red Mountain. (Red Mountain/Facebook)
British Columbia’s Red Mountain has always gone its own way – and soon it will have $10 million to upgrade facilities while maintaining its iconoclastic, anti-corporate spirit.
The Rossland, B.C., resort recently offered public shares in the mountain – through a “crowdfunding” method – and reached its goal of $10 million in February.
Next step is a legal equity offering, expected this fall, according to resort ownership.
Here’s CEO Howard Katkov’s pitch: “Why not join us on this big mountain, big community, love-driven adventure. We’ll keep investing in this community and these fantastic people with or without your help, but dropping in on this could change your life -- just like it changed mine.”
Some 3,000 people took up Red Mountain’s offer, reserving shares ranging from $1,000 minimum to $25,000. The higher the commitment, the more perks, like free season passes and equipment.
If all $10 million reservations come through and the legal offering succeeds, Red Mountain will use the money for Paradise Lodge renovation, expanded snowcat terrain on Mount Kirkup, summer trail-building, and construction of new restaurant, private clubhouse and cabins atop Grey Mountain, according to resort management.
The mountain has more than 2,800 skiable acres served by seven lifts, plus another 1,200 acres that require either a hike or a snowcat ride. With nearly 3,000 vertical feet, Red Mountain tops out at 6,800 feet above sea level.
The resort has always gone counter to the flow, promoting itself as an alternative to “corporate resorts” that it contends have priced many families out of the sport.