Sunday, May 24, 2015

Great Colorado Ski Conditions

I have a reputation for giving Coloradoans a hard time about their lack of snow, but it is well worth a trip to the Centennial State when they are having a spring like this one.

Most of Colorado did not have a great ski season if you measure it by the peak snowpack.  However, the spring has been outstanding for two reasons.  First, it has stayed cold and snowy.  Second, a lot of that snow has been of the sticky, high density variety and it has coated just about everything and the cover is exceptional above 11,000 feet.

Here's an example from the Grizzly Peak snotel at 11,100 ft in Arapaho Basin.  The highest snowpack snow water equivalent of the water year is right now.  It's about at the median peak for this site, but that typically happens in early April rather than late May, putting them way above average for so late in the year.

Source: NRCS
For the Memorial Day holiday, my son and I decided to check out this snowpack for ourselves.  We spent the day yesterday at A-basin experiencing a mixture of sun and snow, as well as a one-hour lightning shutdown about mid morning.  Once that was over, conditions were great for late May with some fine cream on crust conditions.

Today we spent touring near Independence Pass and had another great day, bagging our first 13er on skis.

 Low angle, but we're not used to climbing at 12,000+ feet.  Missing those Wasatch Ohs.
By Colorado standards, the snowpack is bomber, with mainly new snow instabilities to deal with.
A little shameless U of U promotion in the Sawatch 
Happy summiters.
The kid getting some creamy goodness.
We even ran into a fan of Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth, who somehow recognized me from the back cover photo.  Great to hear Coloradans are reading it.

I guess this year provides a great example of why you should never give up on the ski season.  I've had more fun skiing in April and May than I did during much of the winter.


  1. 13k! Sounds like a great tour and great snow.