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SnoCountry SnoCast: Let It Snow

SnoCountry SnoCast: Let It Snow

Let's fill these chairs! Jay Peak Resort boasts a foot of fresh snow in the past 72 hours.  (Jay Peak Resort/Facebook)  

So far, I like the look of December. Now that it’s cold enough, several systems will help build up our snow totals and keep smiles on your faces! Let’s dig into this week’s SnoCast.


December promises to bring more cold and snow. Check out how the snow cover has improved over the past week. We're building up the snow all over the place- (check latest snow reports here). A sure sign winter is off to a solid start. Snow depth over the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia still dominate the maps, and will (again) have some of the most snow in this week's outlook.

Snow cover across the US and parts of Canada

Here's the forecast breakdown by region for the next several days:

West: Coming off a pretty cold couple of days and fresh new snow at so many mountains, another storm system will bring big snow through the end of the week (especially the higher peaks) for the mountains of California Thursday, then press northward to Oregon, Washington,and Idaho through the end of the week.This area already has some of the country's deepest snow depth- check local avalanche conditions (it's that deep). Generally 4-8” for many northwest mountain bases, but look for higher totals 1-2 feet through Saturday over the higher Cascades in Washington and Oregon, and also in the high terrain of the Sierra, perhaps near Tahoe.

That system and energy eventually presses into Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado through the weekend, leaving behind several inches of fresh snow for the weekend for many ski areas. With a fast west to east flowing jet stream up above, systems will be quick, and dump snow, but timing will be a big challenge, so forecasts beyond the weekend are going to be "iffy." Check the forecast often for early next week's outlook. 

National Weather Service forecase snowfall map through Friday, December 9 for the western US.

Midwest/Northeast: The Northeast continues to build up the base with shots of snow. A cold front drops in from Canada Friday, allowing cold air to fill in. This will help generate lake effect snow off the great lakes (good news for the Adirondacks in New York), and will also help generate a light snow in New England’s mountains through the end of the week. A few inches of upslope snow will create a soft coat on what’s already on the ground.

Watch for another system early next week (Monday, Dec, 12) as a stronger storm moves into the Great Lakes region/Northeast. This one could bring higher totals for our slopes.

National Weather Service forecast snowfall map through Dec. 9 for Eastern U.S. (NWS)

Canada: So far this season, most of the love from Mother Nature has been over western Canada. Some of the deepest snow in north America lives over B.C., including at Cypress, Mt Seymour, and Whistler. To the east, pleasant changes in the forecast. Recent mild temperatures over Ontario and Quebec will be replaced by much colder weather in the days ahead. Snow showers for eastern Canada through the end of this week as low pressure pulls away through Hudson Bay. Look for a more potent system early next week (Monday, Dec 12) over eastern Canada, which will likely bring higher totals to the ski areas of Quebec and Ontario. Also, colder air will help aid in snow making.

Upper atmosphere pattern for late week shows troughing/colder air returning to eastern Canada and northeast. This should stay into next week

This colder pattern in eastern Canada and the eastern U.S. will set the stage for storms to drop the goods. If you buy the European model ensemble output for the Northeast/Canada, we shouldn't have any bare ground left by early next week. Forecast image below shows snowfall from today (Dec. 7) through Tuesday, Dec. 13. While actual totals will (no doubt) end up being different, this paints a nice chance of almost all areas here getting snow on the ground. 

 snowfall from Dec. 7 through Dec. 13

'Til next week's edition of SnoCast! Let it snow!  

And a special thanks for contributions each week from Lyndon State College students, Scott Myerson, Amanda Stone and Christopher Kurdek!

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Expansion At Arapahoe Basin Gets OK

Expansion At Arapahoe Basin Gets OK

There will be more powder to hit after expansion into The Beavers at Arapahoe Basin (Arapahoe Basin/Facebook)

Anyone who has gazed longingly through the ropes at The Beavers area but couldn’t handle the hike out can celebrate, as the Forest Service has given Arapahoe Basin the go-ahead for a major expansion.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Snow From Coast To Coast Over the Next Five Days

SnoCountry SnoCast: Snow From Coast To Coast Over the Next Five Days

Good news! The weather is finally turning a snowier and colder corner. In fact, for a lot of you, the snow may be falling as you read this week’s SnoCast.

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Loveland, Mammoth Set To Spin Lifts Nov. 10

Loveland, Mammoth Set To Spin Lifts Nov. 10

Loveland's snow guns have been blasting in the last couple of weeks. (Loveland/Facebook)

UPDATED Wednesday, Nov. 9: Loveland Ski Area becomes the second ski and snowboard mountain in the Rockies as the resort is all prepped and ready for opening on Thursday (Nov. 10).

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Purgatory Owner Adds Cat Skiing

Purgatory Owner Adds Cat Skiing

The Purgatory Snowcat takes you deep into the San Juan backcountry. (Purgatory)

The owner of Purgatory Mountain Resort has purchased one of the nation’s premier powder cat skiing operations, adding 36,000 acres of powder heaven his burgeoning winter sports portfolio.


Purgatory Snowcat Adventures will debut this winter at the southwest Colorado resort – but it won’t have to move far. Its headquarters has been at the base of “Purg” for several years now.

Purgatory Snowcat Adventures

As a result of the purchase of San Juan Untracked, Durango businessman James Coleman now holds one of the nation’s largest backcountry permits with the U.S. Forest Service. The powder-rich terrain run deep into the San Juan Mountain backcountry – from Rico to the west, the southwest flank of Engineer Mountain to the north and including Grayrock Peak and Graysill Mountain.

And, skiers and riders who purchase the five-resort Purgatory Power Pass ($999 for adults) get 10 percent off the $350 single-seat rate – when reserved in advance -- and sneak peaks at special, last-minute offers on drop-in rates for the backcountry service. Private 12-seat ‘cats can be had for $3,500 a day.

Purgatory Snowcat Adventures

The current fleet includes four snowcats, 10 snowmobiles and a backcountry van – plus the highly valuable backcountry permit that runs through 2020. The powder operation will be managed by previous owners Dennis and Amanda Martin, who bought it in 2013.

“James (Coleman) and I both love skiing and love Durango, so this merger will help both of us accomplish what is important to me, and that’s putting Durango on the map for amazing backcountry skiing,” said Dennis Martin.

The purchase of the powder operation continues Coleman’s spending spree in the Southwest that began in 2014 when he bought Purgatory and Arizona Snowbowl. Since then, Sipapu Resort and Pajarito Mountain in New Mexico, and Ski Hesperus outside Durango have been added to Coleman’s portfolio.

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Hundreds Ring In New Season At Arapahoe Basin

Hundreds Ring In New Season At Arapahoe Basin

Hundreds of A-Basin regulars line up for chance to make first runs of the season. (Arapahoe Basin/Webcam)

The sun snuck over the ridge at just past 7 a.m. Friday, illuminating the base area at Arapahoe Basin and signaling that the 2016-2017 ski and snowboard season would soon be underway.


A couple of hours later, shouts of joy resounded off the walls of the Continental Divide as several hundred folks queued up into their first lift line of the season, let the first chair of the season bump into their calves, felt that familiar swing of lift-off and, officially, opened up the new season in the United States and Canada.

“Let’s get this party started!” was the mantra tweeted out on Friday morning.

And indeed it did, amid the whoosh of chairs accelerating out of the base terminal, the roar of snowmaking guns on the hill, and the shouts and cheers of the adoring crowd.

Arapahoe Basin “won” the annual race to be the first to start this season, after “tying” with Loveland Ski Area in the West last year with an Oct. 29 opening. Resort operations head Alan Henceroth said consistently sub-freezing temps – especially at night – kept snowmaking guns roaring, and Mother Nature blessed the slopes with another 4-5 inches in the last couple of days.

"The stoke level is definitely high here, it’s absolutely electric, you can really feel the passion people have for this mountain," Arapahoe Basin's Adrienne Saia Isaac told SnoCountry.com."

The high-speed Black Mountain Express and intermediate High Noon trail welcomed eager skiers and riders another season at the iconic Summit County resort – seemingly plenty for the first-day crowd.

Arapahoe Basin

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Insider’s Guide: Copper Mountain Resort

Insider’s Guide: Copper Mountain Resort

All three base areas at Copper are never far from the lifts (Copper/Facebook)

If there ever was a mountain created for downhill skiing and riding, it’s Copper Mountain. Nestled among 13,000-plus foot peaks just off the Continental Divide, Copper sits in a snow alley right along I-70 about 1-1/2 hour drive from Denver.

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Denver Show Focuses On Families And Discounts

Denver Show Focuses On Families And Discounts

Denver Convention will be crowded for Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo. (Joan Christenson Communications)

A sure sign that the winter season looms in the Rocky Mountains is the annual Colorado Ski and Snowboard Expo.


Set for Nov. 4-6 at the downtown Denver Convention Center, the annual retail show celebrates its 25th year in the Colorado capital city. The three-day event features the usual deep discounts on equipment, apparel and accessories from last season, and tickets and packages for this season.

However, there’s now a bit of the new and unusual with activities, showcases and skills challenges.

“The anchor is, of course, the retail sales,” organizer Bernie Weichsel told SnoCountry.com. “But, entertainment has become more and more of a staple at the show.”

The Denver extravaganza will have freestyle exhibitions, a teaching slope, training center, ropes course, climbing wall – and more.

learning to ski at Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo

Youngsters have gotten the attention of the industry, in hopes of growing the number of participants in an industry that has often struggled to find – and keep – newcomers. For the first time, kids 12 and younger get in free for all three days.
“The show is particularly family-friendly,” Weichsel told us. “We want to keep the kids active and happy, and then the parent will buy more product. There is a family attitude and feeling for the show.”



Weichsel sees the continuation of the shaped-ski revolution at the show, with the all-mountain ski now taking center stage: “Shorter, lighter skis get people to stick with the sport, because we are getting better even as we get older,” Weichsel said.

Backcountry equipment and apparel also will highlight the retail section. A new Nordic Interactive Zone will introduce folks to snowshoeing and cross-country – right in the convention center.

And, the inner cowboy and cowgirl can get his or her jones satisfied with a mechanical bull sponsored by Crested Butte.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 10-8 on Saturday and 10-6 on Sunday. Tickets cost $15 ($12 with Denver Post coupon) for those 13 years and older.

Go online to purchase tickets and get more information.


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Where To Go To Get Very First Turns Of Season

Where To Go To Get Very First Turns Of Season

Snowmaking at Killington begins at the top. (Killington/Facebook)

Opening day is on the minds of skiers and snowboarders already, and brace of resorts have turned on snow guns – and turned eyes to the skies -- in hopes of being the first to open in 2016-2017.

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Eldora Cutting New Runs For 2016-2017 Season

Eldora Cutting New Runs For 2016-2017 Season

More steep and deep with new trails at Eldora Mountain this season (Eldora/Facebook)

Work is underway to clear three black-diamond runs at Eldora Mountain Resort that are slated to be open when the Colorado mountain opens in December.


The day-trip Front Range ski and snowboard area is undergoing its first major upgrades in several decades, thanks to infusion of capital by new owners Powdr Corp. after the U.S. Forest Service gave its OK to a master plan.

The trio of trails will run between Corona and Indians Peaks chairlifts, in what is called Brian’s Glades and Placer Glade areas in the Corona Bowl section of the mountain.

The longest run at 2,600 feet is named Alpen Horn. The steepest will be Wolf Tongue, while the third called Red Trail has an intermediate section at the top before plunging into black-diamond steeps.



Snowmaking will cover the entire 15 acres that the runs encompass, the resort says, to supplement what is often 300 inches of natural snowfall a years.

Now that Eldora has been cleared to build the new trails, ownership is setting sights on a new high-speed quad to replace the dual fixed-grip chairs Cannonball and Challenge on the front side. Completion is scheduled for the 2017-2018 season.

Eldora joins Copper Mountain in the Colorado portfolio of resort chain Powdr Corp., which has eight resorts total.

Eudora

“Colorado’s Front Range is one of the best ski markets in the world,” said John Cumming, CEO and owner of Utah-based Powdr at the time of the purchase last June. “Expanding our footprint here with now two of the most accessible resorts to serve those passionate skiers is an enormous honor. Eldora is admired as a leading entry point and training ground for children and beginners."


 

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Colorado Ski Country USA Doubles Down On Gems Card

Colorado Ski Country USA Doubles Down On Gems Card

Cut into the powder at Sunlight with discounts from Gems Card (Sunlight/Facebook)

For many years, a regular in the wallet of Colorado skiers and snowboarders has been the Colorado Gems Card – providing discount lift tickets at the state’s less glamorous mountains.


Before Epic, before Mountain Collective, before the M.A.X. Pass, there was the $25 Gems Card that gave skiers and riders deals on day tickets at eight off-the-beaten-track resorts – what some may call “smaller” areas but many see as more nostalgic and authentic. Among Gems resorts, only Loveland Ski Area sits on busy I-70, and it’s always been known as a locals’ mountain.

Monarch Mountain

In hopes of attracting more folks to these hidden “gems” this season, Colorado Ski Country USA has increased the discounts on the card. 



To wit: Previously, the Gems Card got its holder two-for-one tickets at Arapahoe BasinSki Cooper, Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn Resort, Ski Granby Ranch and Sunlight Mountain Resort.  In 2016-2017, the card holder can get the same deal twice at these resorts, plus 30 percent off day ticket twice during the season. Or, the holder can get one of each deal at all resorts.

Locals' mountain Loveland

The card costs $25 and can only be purchased online. There is a limit to the number sold, and photo ID is required when presented at a ticket window. Blackout dates are Dec. 18 to Jan. 3.

“The Gems card has been instrumental for savvy skiers looking for the best value, increased flexibility and access to more of our resorts all over Colorado,” said Colorado Ski Country USA President and CEO Melanie Mills.


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Farm To Table Restaurants: Good, Clean Food At The Mountain

Farm To Table Restaurants: Good, Clean Food At The Mountain

Waiter at The Farm in Park City serves up plates from fresh, local produce (The Farm/Facebook)

The idea that local restaurants can hook up with nearby farms, ranches and food producers to create truly sustainable, “local” cuisine has caught fire not only in towns around the country, but also at ski and snowboard resorts.


 

Nowadays, it’s a common sight to see a chef checking out the veggies or baked bread at a local farmers market -- or on the organic produce aisle at the neighborhood grocery store – to stock up for the day’s menu.

More and more, they come from the fine dining rooms at mountain resorts. Here’s SnoCountry’s sampling of where to eat fresh at ski and snowboard resorts this season:

Canyons. Located right on the Ski Beach at the base of the Park City, Utah, resort, The Farm Restaurant lives up to its name by sourcing ingredients from local farms, cattle ranches and vineyards. A regularly revolving menu coincides with seasonally available foods. Taste treat: Utah corn soup.

Harrimans Mount snow

Mount Snow. Harriman’s sits just up from the main base of the southern Vermont area. It combines classicly trained chefs with fresh food grown, raised and produced at 20 farms in the Green Mountain state. Taste treat: Aged cheddar from Jasper Hill Farms.



Solstice at Stowe

Stowe. In the heart of the base area, Solstice serves artisan-inspired plates inside Stowe Mountain Lodge, relying upon a partnership with farmers, cheesemakers and producers from the northern Vermont region for the freshest ingredients. Taste treat: Angus braised short ribs with Cabot Creamery grits.


Truffle Pig Steamboat

Steamboat. Unbuckle your boots and stride into the Truffle Pig for apres-ski snacks, dinners and to-die-for desserts. Ingredients from pastures and gardens of northern Colorado valley inspire truly local menu. Taste treat: Truffle pig fries.


 

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A Few Resorts Charge Nothing For Scenic Summer Lift Rides

A Few Resorts Charge Nothing For Scenic Summer Lift Rides

Free rides all the time at Bretton Woods (Bretton Woods/Facebook)

A ride up a ski lift in the offseason both gives a different perspective on a favorite mountain and gets the juices flowing for the upcoming skiing and snowboarding season.

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When Snow Melts, Watery Thrills Await With Whitewater Rafting

When Snow Melts, Watery Thrills Await With Whitewater Rafting

Browns Canyon along Arkansas River is not for the faint of heart (AVA Rafting/Facebook)

Every spring, the high country sends cascades of frigid cold, roaring water down mountain rivers. While the runoff signals the end of the ski and snowboard season, it also means that it’s time to hop into a raft and keep the thrills coming.

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Trains, Planes And No Automobiles: Ski Train Returns to Colorado's Winter Park Resort

Trains, Planes And No Automobiles: Ski Train Returns to Colorado's Winter Park Resort

Winter Park Ski Train returns to bring skiers from Denver to the slopes this winter. (Winter Park Resort)

After eight long years of empty rails and frustrating driving on I-70, the Winter Park Ski Train returns to bring skiers from Denver to the slopes this winter. Combined with new commuter rail service from Denver International Airport, skiers and riders can now fly to Denver and take the rails directly to the slopes.

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A Summer Hopping With Brewfests

A Summer Hopping With Brewfests

Although the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is only three days and nights, once you get to Telluride, you won't want to go home. (Telluride Brews & Blues Festival)

What’s on tap for this summer of fun? Along with sampling some of the finest craft beers around, a trip to a beer festival this summer also means live music, tempting food, and another perfect reason to get outside and enjoy the mountains. 

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Still Find Summer Skiing In Lower 48

Still Find Summer Skiing In Lower 48

Timberline’s Palmer Express lift usually operates June 1st through Labor Day for summer turns on Oregon’s highest peak. (Timberline/Facebook)

Some skiers and riders just can’t get enough, and they aren’t satisfied with wind surfing, whitewater rafting or plain ol’ hiking in the summer. For them, there are options out there that require some travel, a bit of hiking and plenty of sunscreen.

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Aspen Opens For Skiing To Kick Off Summer

Aspen Opens For Skiing To Kick Off Summer

Aspen Mountain will offer 120 acres of terrain for skiing Memorial Day Weekend. (Aspen photo)

Pack up the bikes, boots and boards and head to Aspen for a Memorial Day weekend of dirt and SNOW! Aspen Mountain will officially kick off the summer season again this year with skiing off the top of Ajax.

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Colorado Resorts Set For Summer Openings

Aspen mountain bikingIn the summer, Colorado resorts become a hub for warm-weather fun both around the base areas and on the mountains. 

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Amy Reents Is New MSAA Director As Chris Stoddard Steps Down

Amy Reents MWSALongtime Midwest Ski Areas Association (MSAA) Executive Director Chris Stoddard has stepped down after 25 years, and Amy Augustine Reents, who has been active in the Midwest ski industry for the past 25 years, has been named the new President/Executive Director.  

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