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Showing posts from May, 2020

The last run...

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My friend and adventure brother for over 40 years Bob Drake took his last ski a couple of weeks ago down Slide Mountain. Little did we know as we laughed our way down pretty "interesting" snow conditions that it would be his last ski, ever.

Bob died last Sunday from what many of us believe to be complications from Covid 19. I spoke to him just the night before and he said he was feeling much better after his test came back negative for Covid last Friday. He said he was very relieved from the test results and was feeling much better. I told him if he needed anything to just call me as he was just in Truckee and I could be there in a little more than a half an hour. By next morning he was dead.  His phone untouched by his side in bed. All of us who had the pleasure to know him are reeling and looking for solace. I caution everyone out there to take any Covid 19 symptoms seriously as the disease can lower your blood oxygen count without prompting you to be out of breath. The re…

Snowpack Gonzo: Down to 4% of average

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The literal half-ass winter (we finished off winter in the 50% area) combined with a generally warm spring has shrunk the Sierra Snowpack down to just 4% of what it should be for today. This latest heat wave sets us up for an abnormally dry brush and timber fuel condition. With potential lightning later in the week and an entire long and dry summer ahead, we have the potential for significantly higher than normal fire conditions. If you are a smoker... this would be a good time to quit.

Sven



Whitney to Remain Closed/Nevada Casinos to Open.... Whaaaaat?

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Inyo National Forest has announced that Mt. Whitney will remain closed to climbers with no immediate plan to reopen. Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States at a little over 14, 500 feet and a permit system to moderate the crowds wanting to climb has been in place for decades. Contrast this decision with the fact that Nevada casino's will be reopening to the world June 4th according to Governor Sisolak and my reaction is just that... Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Local, statewide and federal responses to Covid 19 have been all over the map from the over reaction of chasing surfers down by boat and handcuffing them in San Diego to not Social Distancing early enough in New York and everything in between. There have been counties in California and Nevada who don't have one single case but have been shut down for over two months with great economic hardship the result. Just like I say every presidential election year when I have to choose... "Can't we do …

Why do we ski? Local Sparkly Legend Cindy Sparkles Reveals All

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Long time fan of the blog and Purveyor of GS Cookies to many Rose lifts, Cindy Sparkles sent me an email today with this poster, probably off her wall by the looks of it. It is truly revealing. The only way to know how we diehards feel about skiing is to be a skier. Otherwise, its like explaining love making to a 5 year old. It will just never make any sense.  Thanks Cindy for being a sparkling member of the Rose Ski Village!

Sven


Montana Ski Resort Wetslab A Monster!

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A monster of an avalanche released this week at the private Yellowstone Club Ski Area in SW Montana just South of the Big Sky Boundary. The large wet slab slide had a 6'+ high crown and ran past lift towers to the bottom of the slope well over a thousand feet. Although naturally triggered, this large destructive slide reminds all of us in the skiing and riding tribes that slides don't stop just because the forecast centers are closed for the season or because you've turned the calendar another page toward summer.

Sven


Another one bites the dust: Las Lenas, Argentina DOA this season

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With Argentina's airports closed to both international and domestic flights until September, Las Lenas ski area has thrown in the towel for this season. It is expected other South American ski resorts will likely follow suit. Las Lenas is one of the premiere areas with a hair under 4000 vertical feet and lots of hike to extreme lines from the top of chair as well as cat skiing for the out-of-shape and overweight... or just plain rich and lazy. Oh, shoot, was I not politically correct? Too bad. It is what it is and you won't find me mincing my words.  On this site you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. Or... don't bother reading. Honesty appeals to me over euphemisms and tiptoeing around sensitive subjects. Its best just to be clear... for everyone. Call a Spade a Spade and a Diamond a Diamond.
Not exactly a popular and revered theme in our tiptoe through the tulips times. But it works for me. Next week will bring very warm temps and I suggest you go find some …

Good News for Nevadans: Corvid 19 Loves Sea Level

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A recent study of Covid 19 distribution and severity in China and South America reportedly demonstrates that the virus thrives in the human population much better at lower altitudes rather than in higher ones. Researchers believe that weather and atmospheric differences as well as how humans lungs adapt at altitude lead to significant advantages for those living at altitudes over those living at near or at sea level.

Obviously it doesn't make us untouchable by the virus but it does lend to the theory that the more time you spend up high in the mountains, the healthier you will be during the Covid 19 crisis. I would add that I think thats true anytime. Not a bad theory to ascribe to, right?

Had some inquiries today about how much snow we got up here. The short answer: not enough to make for fun skiing. The West side of the lake was forecast to be hit quite a bit harder. If anyone hears anything please let me know. But make sure to go up really really high to check that out. Thats …

A Toast to El Cap

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Got back into The Chutes yesterday and was pleasantly surprised that El Cap was skied in. Cupless, smooth and way less of the rotten stuff we found on Hornets Nest and Chaos we found a couple of weeks ago. El Cap skied really consistently as long as you stayed in the middle. Sides were rotten and rocky as you might suspect. My buddy got a nice stone grind free of charge from the Mountain Gods. Very few rocks exposed in chute center and the only really rotten snow we found was at the bottom apron exposed to the sun. My neighbor Eric also said the Rose face runs were still skiing well too.

With the Winter Weather Advisory this week the skiing should stay good if you have the patience to wait for the corn to warm up. Or, who knows, maybe there will be enough snow to actually ski some new stuff although my crystal ball is very cloudy on that and my 8 Ball, after a good shake said "Doubtful." The storm will be providing precip from now through Tuesday off and on. We shall see wha…

Snowpack in bad shape... 10% in most places

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According to the CA Dept. of Water Resources the Sierra Snowpack is in pretty poor shape for this point in time. The warm April and early May temps have led to pretty rapid melting and there is 10% or below of normal snowpack in most places in the Sierra. This not only impacts any spring skiing plans but more importantly fire danger as well.


Mt. Bachelor Reopens as does Tioga, Ebbets and Sonora Pass Roads

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Mt. Bachelor will reopen this weekend but only plans to stay open for nine days unfortunately along with the news that no day tix will be sold and the lifts will only spin for Pass Holders and a whole host of other restrictions.

In other news the Tioga Pass Rd has been cleared up to the NP's entrance gate. The park is still officially closed but there won't be anybody around to tell you not to ski across the boundary line. All three roads get you up high enough for some great spring skiing.


Happy Turning
Sven

Beartooth Basin Opening for Season: Rad Summer Skiing

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One of the ski resorts you've never heard of is set to open! Beartooth Basin just North of Yellowstone National Park has promised to open sometime later this month and plans to operate through Independence Day. It is the ONLY summer only ski area in the US. Served only by a couple of pomas, don't underestimate what this area can bring in terms of steeps. Offering a thousand vertical feet and 600 acres at just shy of 11,000 feet is not all they have. With car shuttles and skiing you can ratchet those specs up to 3K of BC skiing and lap it. Beartooth hosts some monster cornice jumps, steeps and parks. Car camping is available just about everywhere off the Beartooth Highway and if you are more of a "motel camper" try the accommodations in Red Lodge, Montana complete with Western Style Saloon. If you are planning a trip up to Jellystone Park to see Yogi and his picanic basket collection, you might consider throwing in a pair of skis since you missed the end of our seaso…

Light at the end of the US Ski Tunnel... Resort Plans Opening!

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Looks like a ski resort will begin to spin its bull wheels in the United States once more after the lions share of US resorts closed in mid-March due to fears about the Coronavirus. Timberline Ski Resort on Mt. Hood will open for summer operations this Friday, May 15th. Although the skiing experience will be quite more controlled. First off, all skiers and riders will need a reservation to ski on the mountain regardless of what passes they hold or programs they are attending. The reservations cannot be made more than 24 hours in advance and are subject to sell-out and will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis.




"Before coming to Timberline all skiers and riders will need to make a mandatory online reservation. This includes but is not limited to Timberline Pass Holders, Fusion Pass Holders, Subaru Pass Holders, pre-paid lift tickets, Cyber-Monday lift tickets, Black Friday lift tickets, etc. If you arrive at Timberline without an online reservation, even if you have a sea…

Slide Side Good to the last flake...

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Although Bonanza may have a few day left on it, the rest of Slide Side is done like dinner. Yesterday saw the last tracks on Zephyr and Bruces and I had to pick my way down at that. Rotten snow pockets lay like minefields in the trees and after sinking maybe 4" on your turns you would suddenly end up knee-deep in a rotten snow patch or void near a log or rock. It was unpleasant at times to be sure. The runs that had been packed over the course of the season delivered a much better skiing experience and although sun cupped pretty good in spots, were firm underneath and soft on top to make for a good late season adventure. Word from Eric MaGrath is that NW is still skiing really nice.

The Chutes remain skiable although you gotta watch for the Rotten Snow Elevator Going Down experiences and voids by rocks. Sudden stops at 25 mph can lead to a good chance of hyperextension or other injuries when your upper body supermans downhill while your lower body remains stuck in the hole you ju…

The Last Ski of Sky...

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There is something poignant about the "last ski" that one makes on a given slope for the season, especially when that slope is considered "home" in so many ways. Between working on my extensive Honey Do list I have been looking up and watching the snow retreat at Sky Tavern daily. With the warmer weather the snow has been rapidly melting more like hourly than daily. Yesterday I looked up and knew, it was time to go. Now or never. Plus, it was a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a homemade pitcher of Margarita's awaiting my return.

In the style of spring skiing I got as much speed as I could over the last patch of snow and continued on over the grass, mud and bogs to a dry spot. With a big smile I claimed "Mission Accomplished" as I shouldered my skis and went up the hill for my one-on one-with Jose Cuervo.

Keep skiing, paddling, hiking and getting out. Its what keep us happy.


Happy Cinco de Mayo Everyone!

Sven






Mammoth to remain Closed: No lifts spinning the USA

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The California Governor Gavin Newsom released a list of acceptable activities (see entire list below) and skiing was NOT on the list. Accordingly Mammoth will not be opening anytime soon in case you were holding out for potential spring skiing down South. But, you ask, how did Mt. Baldy in SoCal (the only ski area in the US to open back up remain open in spite of the Governor's orders. Well, my guess would be Baldy is not a multi-million dollar operation that has a lot to lose and just went for it.  I have doubts that Mammoth would open even if skiing was on the list due to fears about workplace safety, consumer liability and the potential for successful litigation.

While most of us are chaffing at the bit to "get back to normal" medical experts keep trying to communicate to us through the political haze of a presidential election year that basically, "it ain't that simple." Until a vaccine is developed and becomes widely available this may be the first Co…

Night Surfing Anyone?

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The Red Algae that lights up the water blue when the waves stimulate it is back in San Diego and surfers are taking advantage of it. In case you would rather surf some glowing waves versus hyperextending your knee in the rotting corn syrup snow,

here is your chance. If I was free and easy and not "Family Guy" with a job I would be there in a hot flash.

Regardless enjoy whatever it is that brings you joy. And go out there and do it.

Sven

May Chutes Report

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First: Is it worth it? Depends. As with most things in life, keep the bar low and you'll most likely have some fun. If nothing else its always fun to watch your ski partner ride a wet slide down or jump into a rotten ski hole and come to a complete stop. So, realistically, its hasn't frozen in awhile and instead of corn skiing I would call it corn-syrup skiing. Sometimes your boards sink in three or four inches, other times up to your knees. Can you see the difference in the snow you ask. Not a chance. Every turn is like rolling the dice... you're just hoping your not landing in a bowl of mush and coming to an instant stop knee deep or hitting a rock inches under the surface (nothing like a hyper extension to ruin your day). Due to the snow rot, wet slides are also common after noon and due to their weight the slough is difficult to get out of... kinda like wet cement.

If this sounds fun to you then the chutes are waiting. If temps cool off we may get a freeze/thaw cycle …

Last Snow Survey and the Month Ahead

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Some stations reporting 3% of normal for the last Tahoe region snow survey of the year. With little snow midwinter and warming days low and middle snow pack has disappeared quickly leaving many stations sorely lacking in the white stuff. The May average was only 37% of average. That combined with the High and Dry climate forecast for this month bodes for pretty dry conditions and possibly a busy fire season.