Welcome to the heart of winter, with the deep snowpack having arrived. With upwards of five feet of fresh snow at Downing Mountain, this passed weekends guests were treated to an amazing few days of some of the deepest powder skiing with it settling and dried out for the Sunday finale. Plowing and trail breaking duties were stiff this cycle, but between the guests and I we kept the trail open to the summit and skied a thoroughly filled in mountain with nary an old track showing. Avalanche conditions spiked Saturday with the warm front and additional snow loading and then backed off on Sunday with the freeze. There are many layers in the upper three feet of snow none with a good shear plane but all failing in the yellow light caution zone under standard compression testing. We skied 30-35 degree terrain Sunday without incident, but stuck to the 30 degree terrain predominantly with the high consequences of triggering a slide with this much new snow nothing to scoff at. It is snowing again this morning and we should accumulate another few inches to a foot this week.
What a mixed bag of conditions this week with boot top cold dry powder on Monday with a few inches of fresh and finishing today with well over thirty inches of fresh since Tuesday’s storm. Wednesday was the best day of skiing with a full reset at Downing Mountain and twenty inches of light density, blower powder. Trail breaking was difficult and I did not get out until afternoon and plowing duties were over. Face shots and deep unconsolidated snow was the rule on Wednesday. But the hero snow was short lived as by Thursday there was another foot on top of the blower powder, but this was heavier snow and more consolidated. There was some wind at elevation yesterday as well making some dangerous slabs out there. What had not filled in yet though is certainly looking good after this storm. With a cold front projected to pass through Saturday afternoon the surface conditions will improve again with its coming. Sunday will likely be the best day in the backcountry this weekend. Be careful, ski fat skis on terrain under 30 degrees and there should be good times and safe skiing.