|A buried upper White Pine Canyon on December 24, 2010. Snow depth at Alta-Collins: 105"|
Now, in my mind, the 10/11 ski season is the gold standard since I arrived in Utah in 1995 for a variety of reasons. First, the season started fast, with 62" of snow at Alta-Collins on 1 December. Second, we crested 100 inches at Alta-Collins before Christmas, opening up adventuring in rocky, high-elevation terrain very early in the season (see above). Third, there was abundant low-elevation snowpack, greatly improving access to many backcountry areas. Fourth, the snow just kept coming and, although Alta ski area does not measure snow after the end of the season, a reasonable case could be made that they reached near 800 inches by the end of May (see Alta 800!).
|Professor Powder getting Memorial Day Weekend 2011 freshies. Photo: Tyler Cruickshank.|
|Source: NRCS and NWS|
However, there are two other snow-related factors that tip the scales in favor of 10/11. One is the deeper earlier season snowpack, as can be seen in the snowpack water equivalent above. The other is the deeper lower elevation snowpack that existed in the Cottonwoods. Of course, I don't have evidence for the latter except my memories.
There is one non-snow-related factor that makes 10/11 the gold standard in my mind and it is a personal one. My son was coming of age in 10/11 and aggressively seeking steep powder lines. A father's dream! We had a fantastic season.
Can this season eventually close the gap on 10/11? That is a tall order. The snow just kept coming in 10/11, with snowpack water equivalent eventually reaching 75 inches at Snowbird (see graph above). It could happen, but it will take a hell of a March and April. Remember in 10/11 how deep of a snowpack even well into June?
|Alta, June 11, 2011|
It would be wonderful to have a repeat, but really, does it matter? Live in the here and now, and the here and now is serving up some great skiing.
What do you think?