1/23/17 — Blizzards, closings, lift evacs, & Woody hunkers down for the monsoon

23 January 2017 — Let’s kick it off with the most important headlines, first we look to Kitzbuehel where Italian Dominik Paris won his second Hahnenkamm. In other words, “El italiano Dominik Paris conquista el Descenso de Kitzbuhel”!! Paris’ run was nothing short of fantastic, one of the best I’ve seen…ladies meanwhile contesting the Kandahar in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where all Lara Gut could do Saturday was shrug her shoulders as Lindsey Vonn skied like Lindsey Vonn, notching win number seventy something and putting her closer and closer to Ingemar Stenmark’s record. Don’t feel too badly for Gut; she was back on top in yesterday’s Super G so she’s doing just fine…we’ll have a full report on World Cup tomorrow…and now we move to the USA for a nice dose of gloom and doom. No, I’m not talking politics, I’m talking about the weather and other problems plaguing a lot of ski areas this season…fear not, the top one percent are doing just fine; Snowbird and Alta, Powder Mountain UT — although the road up to PowMow is closed this morning. Steamboat CO, Mt Bachelor OR, Taos NM getting good snow again and again, foot at Taos this weekend, Steamboat tallying six inches here, six inches there, all of the aforementioned having strong seasons and serving up exquisite conditions almost daily…elsewhere, the trouble seems to return like clockwork…Boreal CA dealing with regional power outtages, road closures, high winds, blizzards, they were shut down yesterday but are back in operation this morning with the Accelerator and Castle Peak lifts, that’s good news…down the road a bit at Homewood they’ve been running snowblowers to open up lifts, they’ve got the Madden chair dug out and it’s spinning again…rain pounding the midwest today, Boston Mills/Brandywine and Alpine Valley all shut down in the interest of preserving snow…story not as bad in Michigan where Ski Brule tells us yes, it’s warm, it’s raining, but four feet of snow ain’t melting anytime soon. They’re serving up all 17 trails and 11 lifts, and they do a good job up there on the UP…lift evac was in New Hampshire yesterday morning at Waterville Valley way up on that old double chair that services the very tippy top part of the mountain. Apparently they experienced a “deropement” which means the cable was somewhere other than where it was supposed to be, and passengers were evacuated. Statement from the resort blames it on “guest misloads.” Unfortunately this is the third time this month, so I’m thinking this is a euphemism for something they’re doing wrong, saying it’s the customers fault is like the airline blaming you when they lose your skis. Regardless, the lift is shut down pending further investigation by the state and US Forest Service…meteorologist, friend and all-around-good-guy Jeremy Davis — he’s also founder of the New England Lost Ski Area Program (NELSAP) tells us “January in Glens Falls [NY] has been 10.2 degrees above normal, and only 1.4″ of snow, making it one of the warmest Januaries on record, and one of the least snowiest.” As a Vermonter once told me, “well that sucks!” Davis says colder temps on the way, but as the same Vermonter replied, “yah but it still sucks.” Indeed it does…back to the part about friends and good people, we welcome another installment from our buddy Woody Bousquet, our favorite correspondent from the Mid-Atlantic. Here’s Woody’s reflections this morning on how the Banana Belt prepares for warm weather and rains, with a couple of first hand observations from resorts in the region: “Mid-Atlantic ski areas hunkered down last week to brace for the January thaw’s continuing onslaught. Hordes of nonskiers passed through, headed to the nation’s capital for Friday’s Inauguration or the Women’s March on Washington (or a march in their own home towns) the day after. Warm temperatures and sleet turned me around en route to Whitetail PA on January 14, while dense fog kept me from even loading the car to catch some early morning runs there on the 21st. In between, midweek skiers found most of the region’s ski areas open with no crowds and groomed granular hero snow — see January 18 photo of Liberty PA…Ski areas along the Allegheny Front, including Canaan Valley, Snowshoe and Timberline in WV and Seven Springs and Laurel Mountain in PA caught heavier rains than areas to their east. Yet again, though, mountain operations crews — from Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain NC to Blue Knob PA and others further northeast — succeeded in moving around the snow they’d made and stockpiled during those cold stretches in mid-December and early January. Even though some runs and lifts were connected by narrowing, barely skiable strips of wet snow, the region’s areas continue to operate this week. Most lost runs to snowmelt and saved others to reopen on the weekend. Reports and webcams indicate Snowshoe WV’s famed Cupp Run (1500′ vertical) and most of the central basin runs across the road had good coverage, but other sections were showing thin spots. Weather chatter on the message boards has turned hopeful, looking for the return of snowmaking weather — and even snow — to the region by next week’s end, with the possibility of genuine snow at higher elevations before Saturday.” — thanks Woody!

Above: Empty runs and hero snow greeted midday skiers at Liberty PA on Wednesday, January 18. Woody Bousquet photo.