In The Spotlight
Multiple storm systems and a steady plume of moisture will stream into the Pacific Northwest, bringing big totals into the weekend.
Western U.S. & Canada
This week, all eyes are on the Northwest as a parade of storms brings in mountain snow. Heavy snow fell Monday-Wednesday with as much as 1-2 feet of snow across the peaks of Washington, British Columbia, northern Idaho and northern Oregon. Schweitzer in Idaho picked up 11" and Lookout Pass measured 23"of new snow through Wednesday.
A steady plume of moisture streaming in Thursday-Friday (Dec. 13-14) will, again, target the Cascades of Washington, as well as the Coast Range of British Columbia with an additional 1-2 feet of snow possible, mainly over 3000’. Mt Baker, Stevens Pass, and Summit at Snoqualmie will enjoy a great first few days of their season opening. Mt Washington, Whistler, Apex Mountain, and Grouse in British Columbia will also be great spots this weekend.
Eastern U.S. & Canada
After epic amounts of snowfall for many North Carolina ski areas last week (1-2 feet), many Southeast mountains continue to have an amazing start to December. Beech Mountain in North Carolina boasts an incredible 2 feet of fresh snow after last week's storm.
Midwest mountains are also off to a great start. Looking forward, a milder stretch of days for the East. This will compact any recent snow, and make for soft conditions. Many of the final openings of the season happen through this weekend across the East. Cold air returns by Monday and Tuesday of the upcoming week, so any leftover moisture in New York and New England could bring some light accumulation, a few inches, by then.
Be sure to check back every week to see what we're monitoring in the forecast for best ski and ride conditions across North America.
Bubbly champagne and blowing bubbles for the kids were all part of the fun as Killington cut the ribbon on the new Snowdon Six Express bubble chair Dec. 8. The new ride is part of a $25 million investment improving flow and experience across the largest resort in the East.
The 10-12 minute ride on the former Snowdon Quad will now take around four minutes, and a bubble shield will protect riders from wind and weather on the 1,100 vertical-foot lift, making the Snowdon Six an appealing alternative to the K-1 Gondola. The combination of a slower loading detachable but faster ride will keep uphill capacity about the same. A new barn will keep the chairs ice-free at night.
The replacement of the long, cold “Slowdon” Quad is just part of the work done this year to make Snowdon more than just a pass-through to get to other areas of the mountain. “In looking for more blue terrain, a better enhanced ski experience, we’re taking the lower level skiers that are coming down from the peak, and putting them through a series of tunnels and segregating them from the upper level skiers,” Killington mountain operations director Jeff Temple told SnoCountry.com.
The Poma surface lift used frequently by race teams on Bunny Buster has been moved to Swirl on Ramshead, giving racers a dedicated training venue and leaving Bunny Buster as a wide cruiser on Snowdon.
The popular K-1 Express Gondola also saw major upgrades with all new 8-person cabins, replaced haul rope and a new gondola barn to improve de-icing time.
New RFID gates at lifts makes getting back up the hill more efficient, too
The Snowdon Quad has been recycled and moved to the South Ridge area, where the aging South Ridge chair had been removed in 2011. The South Ridge area boasts quieter trails and sun on colder days. “This allows you to ski out of Bear Mountain, ski down to bottom of South Ridge, get on this lift, and right down this trail is the whole north side,” Temple told us. Although the summer habitat of the Bicknell's Thrush kept the work on South Ridge from starting until Aug. 1, the lift should be turning by the holidays.
The new Skyeburst tunnel will also serve to let advanced skiers and riders keep on moving uninterrupted down the fall line, while going through the tunnel on Snowshed Crossover fulfills the original Killington design of allowing even beginners to enjoy skiing from the top of the mountain.
Previously a natural snow-only trail, Lower Pipe Dream now has snowmaking, and the snowmaking on Upper Pipe Dream has being replaced to improve reliably and efficiency - part of the 44,000 feet of new and replacement snowmaking pipe at the resort.
Everyone knows what a rush it is to have a full day of skiing and riding, but often you still have the rhythm in your bones even after the lifts close. Enter the apres-ski music scene at mountain resorts.
SnoCountry scanned the West and came up with a sampling of apres-ski spots where the rockin’ goes on long past the final run of the day.
The Mangy Moose is a Jackson Hole fav for many reasons – and one, for sure, is the apres-ski music scene. The Wyoming town breeds musicians, and many crank it up as early as 2 p.m. Bar menu features local flavors, like Elk Brat and Elk Chili.
Get going before you reach the bottom at Heavenly with the Unbuckle Apres Party at Tamarack Lodge. Located at the top of the gondola, Tamarack Lodge becomes a full-blown nightclub complete with go-go dancers, glow sticks, thumping techno and fist pumping tunes – from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
Billed as a “cocktail lounge and music hall,” O.P. Rockwell in the heart of downtown Park City often gets the music rockin’ at 6 p.m. Most acts run a little later, but it’s worth the wait especially if you link dinner with concert tickets.
At the base of Peak 8, the T-Bar brings in a raucous crowd of skiers and riders from Breckenridge’s original slopes for apres-ski live music. Sun deck is epic. And, there’s a free gondola ride back into town.
For Mt. Bachelor apres-ski music, get off the mountain early and head to the 10 Barrel Brewing Co. at the base. Music cranks up as early as at 2 p.m. After quaffing a cold brew, head down to Bend, Ore., where there are two more 10 Barrel Brewing Co. outlets.
The options for skiing and riding in Oregon range from the one-lift town hill to the only year-round mountain in the United States – with all kinds of variety in between.
Most of the dozen ski and snowboard areas in Oregon are holding their own, but there are changes at a few. Here’s what SnoCountry found.
Five separate skiing and riding areas spread around 11,250-foot Mt. Hood in northern Oregon. Big news for the future is Timberline Lodge’s purchase of nearby Summit Ski Area, a one-lift, three-run novice hill first opened in 1927. Timberline officials say the deal will help create a tighter public transport link between the ski lifts and the town of Government Camp – especially more parking. For now, they’ve tweaked shuttle routes and undertaken base lodge renovations at Summit.
Down the road at Mt. Hood Skibowl – known by locals as “steep and cheap" -- management has installed the latest snowmaking systems that produce snow despite above-freezing temps. A new winch cat allows grooming in the Upper Bowl, and snowmaking pipes now reach Lower Bowl. Terrain park has nine new rails.
Hard on the southeast shoulder of the volcano sits Mt. Hood Meadows, the most terrain in the region with 2,100 acres. A new trail/grooming system called “The Vista Experience” permits beginners and novices a manageable route from the top of the Vista Express high-speed chair to green runs and learning areas near the bottom. Plus, a steamlined ticket-reading system will help move weekend crowds along.
Farther north on Hwy. 35, Copper Spur takes skiers and riders back to the old days of one fixed-grip chair, a rope tow and all the easy terrain you could want. For distractions, tubing is a big deal at Copper Spur, and some six miles of X-C trails run from the single base hotel into the forest.