Sunny after powder day in vail, but not much enjoyment in it after the tragic death of a 13 year old local skier. Bombs were resonating all day in the Vail area, with slides happening in places I’ve never seen before inbounds, like lower Sugar Mountain. We went out to check out expected releases in EV after the storm and reported near misses from yesterday and had no expectations of skiing. Had been two days since I had been back, purposely taking time off due to dangerous conditions. Saw evidence of natural and probable skier triggered avalanches, some of them considerable size. Check out the photos on Luke’s report.
Looked like yesterday was an active one, as slides, cracks and debris were all evident on E-NE slopes, a big one in West Marvin’s. Below treeline had evidence of large cracking and piles of debris indicating stability was terrible down lower in the trees yesterday as well. Heard a report of a partial burial below treeline yesterday but don’t know the details, I believe CAIC has the report.
Glad no one died in EV over the weekend, really thought it might happen. Hard to believe inbounds, though. Not much else to say. Hope to get back to enjoying the pow, but wondering if that is in the cards this season. Had some good skiing and didn’t see any new activity today, but in light of recent events, it doesn’t matter. Pow skiing should be fun not tragic.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a pretty steep rise in the number of visits to the site, which is great. It has occurred to us through a few recent comments that perhaps it’s time to restate what we’re all about, and not about, at EVI.
Our goal has always been to promote back country safety and improve the quality of riders in the zone. If we’re doing a disservice to EV users by encouraging proper equipment use and issuing warnings during questionable snow conditions, color us confused. While the majority of the feedback has been positive, from the beginning, we’ve realized the possibility of blowback was there.
There will be people who feel like we’re opening Pandora’s box. Like we’re stealing their kool-aid. Like we’re running tours out to EV with Japanese tourists wearing Mickey mouse backpacks. Well, we’re not.
At the end of the day, 200+ people are using EV on a daily basis. If you think EV is a secret, you’re living in candy land. If anyone thinks we are solely responsible for the increase in EV use, thanks. That’s flattering, but we’d be happy to share our site metrics with anyone who asks…we simply don’t have that kind of reach.
There are numerous other factors at work accounting for the increase in use of EV terrain which we all see on a daily basis (read: side country / back country marketing from the ski media). It seems that anyone these days can be an expert by purchasing skins, taking a CPR class, and heading out past Chair 21. These folks will be back there whether EVI exists or not. If they have some semblance of back country education, we’re all in a better position.
At the end of the day, we have always considered ourselves as a supplement to the CAIC and an on the ground reporting tool trusted by those who frequent the zone and know the ever changing snow conditions. Certainly, keeping the EV zone a place that everyone can enjoy is a paramount concern for us all.
Hopefully, this clears up some confusion. From here on out, any comments about the site, or about us, can be directed here. We welcome cogent comments that contribute to the discussion, even criticism of our methods, so long as the argument is supported with fact, not opinion. Outright inflammatory statements about our users or us probably won’t be posted. It just clutters the site and detracts from what we’re trying to promote.
Going forward, we hope this clears some things up. If you still hate us, move along…hopefully the guy above you has done his homework.
Big storm was supposedly headed our way. The jet is on us and it looked promising for last night. The blob NOAA showed us coming in from the Northwest made giddy as a schoolgirl. Huge and dipping below AK towards us, finally in a more west to east pattern. Bring it. I went to bed with powder dreams dancing in my head.
Woke up to another swing and a miss, somehow it went from 1000 percent chance of snow and a blizzard warning to really nothing. All bark no bite. A reoccurring theme this year, not sure how NOAA got it so wrong. Again. Now Saturday looks better, but, but honestly I give up on getting excited for storms that NOAA predicts for us this year.
Wednesday saw the temperatures and humidity rise with the incoming front. The recent new snow down lower in the aspens by our second run had begun to settle and were cracking, although not propagating more than a few feet as we plowed through it. A great indicator that even at lower elevations in the trees, the possibility of avalanching is on the rise. Rapid change in any piece of the avalanche puzzle weather, wind, temperature is always a warning sign for increasing avalanche danger.
Winds are still up, and the loading continues. 21 is open today, so the skin out won’t be as long. Two yesterday and my legs are feeling it. Might be taking the day off and writing hate mail to NOAA. Be careful out there, anything in the North facing, wind loaded aspects that haven’t ripped have a good chance of going at all elevations. Really a strange year so far to say the least.
Lots of on the ground reports lately…but we recently came across a more forward looking snow/weather report. Via the caic Facebook page, this very scientific look at the changing weather pattern appears promising. Read the details here: http://bit.ly/xair18
In short, it looks like what we’ve been predicting…a change around January 15 for the better. Colder temps and more northwesterly snow flows headed our way…or so we hope. Either way, worth a wade through the scientific talk to learn a bit more about our weather pattern this year. From Russia with love.
A historic shift at this point in the season would be great. Here’s to a February where we don’t see the sun.
With the holiday crowds closing in, I skinned my way up to Mushie two days in a row to check out the snow on both the West and North aspects in the gladed 20-30 degree terrain for something to do. The ridge top had variable areas of 10 cm wind board on facets to soft wind blown crust over, you geussed it, more facets, to dirt patches. The first five upper low angle turns off the ridgeline were decent, fresh turns on stale cake. As the pitches steepened and rolled toward the cliff band that runs in the middle of Mushroom Bowl, the skiing turned to a barely covered nightmare of no more than 60 cms of 2mm facets on rocks and fallen trees. The best way to describe a weighted ski turn two thirds of the way down is hitting a sandcastle with a baseball bat. The snow looses cohesion, disintegrates under the weight and the facets run to the dirt in a glittering hiss below the turn. A frightening prospect for a basal layer for our snow pack when (think positive) our weather cycle does turn back to snow.
If we continue to get small amounts of snow with long periods of calm weather in between, then avalanche wise it’s really no problem, it will just be a low tide year for the central mountains like most of AK’s mountains had last year. However, if we do see an averaging out of the snowfall amounts in the last two thirds of the season, then I have to imagine we will have a signifigant avalanche cycle with the first large dump. With the depth of snow in EV ranging from dirt to sixty cm of loose facets that on both West and North aspects, a two foot dump would rip to the ground with little effort with any kind of rapid loading of typical cold low density mid-winter snow on such a weakly bonded base layer. Our best hope is precip to come in warm and wet and alot of it. Or a storm comes in with such rapid loading that EV flushes itself out naturally overnight and cleans out what has become a forgettable early season mess on all aspects.
Something else to check out. Noaa has an interesting report on their website on the effect La Nina will have on Colorado weather for the rest of the winter. Much of it is super technical, but it is interesting to read the atmospheric science based precipitation predictions for the next six months. I won’t ruin it for you, check it out and draw your own conclusions.
It was a relief to get out into Mushie and skin far far away from the madnesss happening with the holidays in Vail. Just passing Two Elk helped my personal holiday decompression. The lack of sno, however trying, fails to make the skin up to the top of Benchie any less beautiful. The black, grey and white spattered Gore range, gaunt and bare, stretched into a sky littered with purple and grey clouds streaming in from the Northwest. A few tendrils of snow stretched down to touch the very tops of the Gore Range, but the wisps were wishful thinking for a range that is now feet away from average. I enjoyed standing on the top of Benchie again, wind howling and no one around. Pretty much ski hiked the last two thirds of the run both days to the road, but I enjoyed the taste of the EV experience that I have, admittedly, taken for granted over the last fourteen years.