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How much snow do you need to avoid "rock skiing"?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

How many inches of snow do you need before you can safely take your good skis out on the slopes?

This is for the Paciifc Northwest (Crystal Mountain). They have 20 inches at the base, 40 inches at the summit, and say they need 24 inches to open. Snow is heavy - think snowman making snow - but not compacted yet.

post #2 of 18

At Squaw/Alpine we need 3-4' of snow for most things to be covered.  But the more snow that we get, the bigger rocks we head toward, so one's skis are never really sake.

post #3 of 18

Most places seem to lay down 18"+ compacted base before they let people on the slopes.  Where I ski here in AZ they are pretty liberal with the snow coverage and I see it get down to 10" - 12 " in places and this is when I start seeing little rocks all over the slopes and people wrecking their equipment.

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

How many inches of snow do you need before you can safely take your good skis out on the slopes?

This is for the Paciifc Northwest (Crystal Mountain). They have 20 inches at the base, 40 inches at the summit, and say they need 24 inches to open. Snow is heavy - think snowman making snow - but not compacted yet.

 

It depends: most things its risk vs. reward. So to me it depends on the slope (the reward), the rocks (how many how big), and how much thick snow base is built up. Also depends on me, how many hits am I willing to take? 

 

If it is a grass meadow then 10" base (settled snow) is enough to ski on . 

 

If the area is minimally rocky with shrubs, about 30" is good enough to cover the sage brush.

 

If the area is medium rocky then about 50" base is good.

 

If the area is very rocky and steeper then 70"+ is a much safer number. 

post #5 of 18

Depends on how well manicured the terrain is.  If you're skiing down a golf course fairway, 16" packed is usually sufficient.  If you're skiing stumps and boulders then we're talking several feet like mentioned above. 

post #6 of 18

Enough to cover the rocks on the run you want to skirolleyes.gif

post #7 of 18
What tromano said. I imagine Deer Valley has carefully removed all rocks from their groomers so their meticulously groomed base can be a lot thinner than other SLC-area ski resorts and still be skiable, while Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon skiers become very good at lifting a ski over rocks and grassy patches in the middle of runs already narrowed by the lack of the 4 foot (at least) base needed to cover the whole thing. IMHO the grooming and snowmaking guys here are nigh on heroes for what they manage to make skiable in the worst of weather patterns.
post #8 of 18

depends on how fat your skis are.

post #9 of 18

Depends how old or $$$ my skis are. I'm sure we all have rock skis in our quiver.

post #10 of 18

This is what one local area officially called "open" last December.

 

nonono2.gif

post #11 of 18

Wow. 

post #12 of 18

I have found that Crystal does a good job early season of not opening until there is good coverage on-piste. My husband and I don't own rock skis, and we have skied Crystal early season (Nov) without problems. (That said, I'm not excited enough about what's opening tomorrow to want to go). I think Crystal is alone in opening at 24", though--I think it's 36" for Stevens and Baker*. You won't be going off piste with only that much, though, and you'll see stuff sticking up at the edges of runs. None of our PNW ski areas are like Deer Valley or Sun Peaks, where they not only meticulously remove rocks and stumps, they grow a special grass over the runs in the summer so that they can open with a minimal base (SP does this), or Sun Valley, where the snowmaking and grooming are meticulous. So, nowhere in the PNW can open with an 18" base like those places can. But they get less than 300" of snow, and they are destination resorts competing with other big ski areas for tourist dollars, so they have to do stuff like that. We get lots of snow and aren't a destination, so we don't.

 

*Actually I just saw that Baker has a 40-50" base and is still not opening until tomorrow.

post #13 of 18

I've ridden away unscathed on 6" of snow, and put some massive core shots into my gear on 60" of snow...

 

Just depends what the terrain under you looks like...

post #14 of 18

Most of Green Valley at Crystal can be skied with not too much coverage; 30" should do it.  If you see a rock sticking up stay clear, they are like Aspen trees lots of them grow together in clumps.  Strongly suggest you stay on the main slopes.

 

They are currently showing 40" on top, have a really great time.

post #15 of 18

I think Crystal also has the capacity to use snow making in Green Valley; not so much to open early as to have training for ski patrol refreshers and such.  That said, according to their website they have received enough snow to have good coverage at Green Valley and Snorting Elk, and have good coverage on Lucky Shot on the Rainier Express side.   The gondola will ferry people up and down, as in the spring.

 

Stevens usually needs about about a 3' settled base for most of the terrain which is why they have only two chairs spinning and limited runs at this point.  I noticed they posted they were working on some terrain park features.  The terrain around the lifts they have opened up (Daisy and Brooks) is fairly mellow and doesn't have creek holes and tree stumps, and not too much brush.  They have also done some summer grooming since they started the bike park in the summer, which probably helps.  

 

 

 

 

 
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post
*Actually I just saw that Baker has a 40-50" base and is still not opening until tomorrow.

 

You are totally correct about the lack of trail prep at Baker, it takes a good 100" base to fill in the holes and smooth out the flats. Opening with 40-50" base is a stretch and non of the steep terrain will have enough coverage for the masses...

post #17 of 18

While reading through this thread, a couple of thoughts kept popping into my head, so I'll share.

I actually like thin snow conditions, though to be honest, I enjoy them more at the end of the season  biggrin.gif  than in the beginning, for a few reasons.

1. I'm stronger and have my timing perfect at the end of the season

2. A benign sense of adventure

3. Joy of skiing when others have "hung them up"

 

Which brings me to another confession, and please let me know if anyone agrees with me on this (I have never met anyone else who admits this)

While I understand the importance of maintained bottoms and edges of skis, with the exception of boilerplate, I am drawn to runs that have something unusual or wrong with them. It could be thin cover, shrubbery, roots and dirt coming through the moguls (definitely end of season condition) crud sections, partially covered logs, gnarly rock etc. I always put adventure ahead of what might happen to my skis, I can always buy another pair or fix the ones I have. In fact, I always want another pair so this kind of makes sense if one takes finance out of the equation.

 

When it comes to a thin cover run (not the above one with moguls) I do the following to prevent deep gouges ..

You can usually see small rocks just under the surface. When approaching these at speed, unweight both your skis by extending both legs momentarily while passing over the area (I feel both of my ankles pulling up into the boot cuff) and you will hear the rocks rolling on your ski bottoms but will not experience "ski grab" which inflicts core damage to the bottoms.

 

I have also experimented with this technique in new fresh powder (early in the season) before I have my strength and timing. I have found it helpful for floatation and turn initiation and just another way to mix it up while adding to my skill set/repertoire.

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

How many inches of snow do you need before you can safely take your good skis out on the slopes?

This is for the Paciifc Northwest (Crystal Mountain). They have 20 inches at the base, 40 inches at the summit, and say they need 24 inches to open. Snow is heavy - think snowman making snow - but not compacted yet.

It turns out this was enough on Wednesday.  I figured my son and I would ski off the groomers so I wanted skis that would float over the rocks, not down to them, plus I thought the snow was going to be wet.  I took Elan Olympus and my son skied his Volkl Gotamas.  We came away unscathed even though we were skiing Memorial, Sunnyside, Gully Gully, West face and the like.   Great day and the snow wasn't heavy wet cement as I expected.

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