Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bleak Present, Brighter Future

Regime change is coming, but Mother Nature is going to make it as rough as possible.  We went up to Alta today to run laps with my father who is visiting and to bid adieu to the rotting snowpack before it gets buried this coming week.  It doesn't get much bleaker than this in mid January.

First, the view of the south facing aspects above Little Cottonwood.  Brown.  On the plus side, there's no facets where it's brown, which could be advantageous for touring once we have a snowpack.  Of course, one will need to be extremely careful when skiing on these slopes not to venture into those areas where pockets of faceted snow presently persist.

Second is something I thought I would never see at Alta.  There is no snowmaking off the Supreme Chair and keeping it running is taking a "supreme" effort.  After the strong winds of yesterday and today, it's incredibly grim up there.  They were actually filling buckets with snow at the bottom of the chair and unloading them at the top, presumably to maintain the cover in the unloading area.

Shovels and buckets at the bottom of the Supreme
Unloading at the top
Finally, to add insult to injury, after skiing the loose and frozen granular, it's always wonderful to descend into a wind-blown dust event.

Looking southwest toward the Oquirrh Mountains from the Avenues
Fortunately, our long nightmare is almost over.  As discussed in yesterday's post, a cold front will push through late tonight and tomorrow and give us some snow.  Then, after day or two of cold dry weather, the floodgates open.  Things are starting to setup in the western Pacific today where a pronounced plume of subtropical moisture is getting setup near the dateline.

Wednesday afternoon through Friday look wet, warm, and windy.  It's going to be a mess (backcountry avalanche conditions are likely to be extreme), but the pattern will give us the sort of base building snow that we desperately need.  And, it looks active (and cooler) through at least next weekend.  Keep thinking snow!

No comments:

Post a Comment