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Powder hunting - How does it work? - Page 2

post #31 of 50
Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post

As someone already said, if it's already snowing at an area that's 5 hours or more away, you're already too late.


You can go by near-term forecasts and hope they're right, since you're committing time and money to beat the storm. There's been considerable discussion of that option already.


The best option, of course, is to move to a place close enough to the skiing so you can respond to what's actually on the ground when you check the website after rolling out of bed at 6am.


Less than 8 inches? Sleep in or go to work.


More than 8 inches? E-mail the office: "I'll be in after lunch."


Works for me.  :D



Originally Posted by KevinF View Post


Expert Skier: Gets all excited cuz it snowed 12 inches, gets up early so he can beat the crowds.

Real Skier: Sleeps in til noon since it only snowed a foot overnight.


:)   (Courtesy of http://avondell.com/skiing/skihumor.html)

What can I say?


I'm not a Real Skier (TM) and my standards are low.


We're glad  that you routinely sleep in for anything less than 18"...

post #32 of 50

Answering from the EC perspective, which I think the OP was talking about, powder hunting can be pretty easy and rewarding.  Sounds like he has the hard parts down (flexible job and willingness to drive through snowstorms).


In addition to following some local mets, my suggestion for the EC is Matt Noyes and Tim Kelley to start with, the next question is how cheaply are you looking to accomplish this?  The two major items that drive up cost, and increase your powder chances are hotels and lift tickets.  If you can pre-position yourself the night before the storm, not only do get to sleep in the morning of, but you avoid driving in the snow.  Obviously, the closer you are to the mountain, the more money it is.


Lift tickets are similar.  If you're willing to go wherever the most snow is and pay full price for a walk up ticket, all the more powder to you.  The cheaper option is to get vouchers or discount tickets to a variety of mountains all over the EC (So. VT, No. VT, NH, ME, etc), and pick the region that gets the most snow from the storm, but the mountain you get the ticket for may not be the specific snow jackpot winner.

post #33 of 50
I did east coast powder chasing a few years ago. Drove up from Boston area through the blizzard the night before (figure double the normal drive time, but still less than a normal Friday evening).
Killington and Sugarbush were good -- third chair and two or three hours of untracked and then good cut - up snow the rest of the day. Mad River Glen was a disaster: all the locals came out for a few runs before work.
post #34 of 50

I powder chase all the time, but I take a middle of the road approach to save money.


I drive up to my parent's house in NH and day trip from there, so no hotel cost, and I buy a variety of discount tickets and pick the mountain that fares best.  It's gotten me some great days, but not without a fair share of frustrations.  For instance, a few years ago during a 20" storm, I had to wait for my parent's driveway to be plowed to get out, so I didn't get to the hill until almost 10am.  Still had a great day, just not untracked.

post #35 of 50

If you go to a place with lots of side country such as Stowe, Jay Peak, Sugarbush, you should be able to make fresh tracks all day long...especially on a weekend.  You will just have to head a little further out with each lap.

post #36 of 50
Some of those days were big dumps over thin bases, so no trees. Worked my way into the trees later in the day when it was safe, but the best trees tracked out surprisingly quickly.
post #37 of 50

I skied a power day at Stowe a few seasons back.  It was a Saturday and it was dumping all day long.  The guys I was with kept traversing out past the bench and walking back along 108 every run.  I was a bit out of shape and after 3 laps I decided to stay inbounds and meet back up with the gang at lunch.  I was skiing knee deep and above untracked on inbounds runs so no need to wear my sorry, out of shape ass out traversing and hiking when I could wear it out just as easily skiing fresh powder.

post #38 of 50

Breezed the thread so this may be a repeat.


If it snows go.  Don't second guess and don't let good storms pass you by.  Get an early start.


Pay attention to the wind.  Some mountains lifts are more affected by wind than others.  Its not just wind speed, but direction as well.  This knowledge is often gained firsthand or through friends.  Once at the mountain, there often is a lee side that will wind load snow better than others.  Always be thinking about where the snow depot is happening.


Skiing closed trails ups the chance for powder runs.  Doing so violates mountain policy and can lead to ticket loss and possibly prosecution.  Trails are most often closed due to thin cover-can you read the snow?  Can you ski on one foot if the other hits a rock?  Do not piss patrol off by being obvious.  Like the wind, this is a learned skill which is not shared over the internet.  My official position is that you should only ski on open trails.


Even once the trails get cut up you can still ski mostly powder turns for a while by reading the snow.


Marry the snow fall to the mountain.  There is nothing worse than too much (or heavy) snow and not enough pitch.  Early season storms are best at mountains that do better with snow making and have trails with fewer rocks.


Lastly develop skills so you can ski powder all day long.  If you fight it, it will beat you down in half a day.

post #39 of 50

I had 4 powder days of 4" or more last year in Minnesota, which is a lot for us...  


First thing I did was set up an agreement with my work that anytime we get 4"+ of snow I'm not coming in that day.   :D


Seriously though.  It's hard to ski without a job so get things set up so your work knows (or doesn't know) what your plan is.  My work would rather know the day before that I'm not going to be there.  If a storm looks huge, they know I'm not coming in.


Other than that for me it's all about having to drive on some pretty crappy roads pretty early in the morning.   On one of my drives to my local area this year (welch villiage) I thought I was going to go in the ditch several times.   Visibility was near 0 and the wind was whipping like crazy.   There were mile long sections of the drive where I was going 5-10 mph and could hardly tell if I was on the road or not (the ditches had filled in with snow and the road was so covered with snow you couldn't see the road markers.  That wind made for some very deep stashes of powder if you knew where to look at the ski hill though....

post #40 of 50
Sounds like the OP is talking about storm chasing in New England and has gotten good advice from many posters about just getting out there and doing it. Somebody should steer him towards the Fox44 card when it comes out, that would give him pretty good range to pick a hill with the day's best snow.

I never really was a powder chaser. Although I love the opportunity to ski it I've always lived in a non-optimal location for it. Besides I'm too easy to please. I had maybe ten good powder days of ~8-12" at Blue Knob, PA while a season pass holder there skiing 25-50 days per season from'72-'87. It's hard to make fresh tracks in the mid-Atlantic because most of our ski areas groom new snow on marked trails as soon as it falls and don't offer a lot of ungroomed terrain/glades.

Any trip out of my home region was always very satisfying even when not experiencing a period of fresh snow because of the better terrain and overall better conditions. Wasn't motivated to go to the extra trouble of timing last minute trips to catch fresh snow. Good snow was too far away and I thought it would be too expensive to quickly get to, but learning about the SWA flight scheduling strategies discussed in this thread lessens that argument?? Also, never had a job where I felt comfortable taking off on spur of the moment to go away for ~4-7 days, which is the minimum I'd do if getting on an airplane. Reflecting on it, all my best powder days (12+") were on preplanned trips to Colorado: Aspen '91, Keystone '07, Copper '09, Loveland '14 where I just got lucky.

Something I would add is that if OP goes to the trouble to make a 3-5 hour drive to catch a powder day, might as well plan to stay two. Sloppy seconds can be darn good especially if there's some lingering extra snowfall or the wind fills in the tracks from the day before and it just makes economic sense.
post #41 of 50

Powder hunting - and what ski outing is not a powder hunt, at least in spirit? - is like fishing. Yes, the goal is to catch fish. That's what gives the whole operation its focus and its drive. But you absolutely can't expect to catch fish. And you are doing yourself a huge disservice if you are not prepared to have a great time without them. On the other hand, sometimes your sights will be set really low and you will hit the jackpot unexpectedly. Those are the best days of all, imo.


With this as background, the most important thing is to go, as @Mainiac says. Go even if it looks like things are fizzling. One of the constants in this game is inconstancy. Life being what it is, most often this means something promised is not delivered. However, sometimes it works the other way. Couple of years ago went up to the Loaf and it was POURING rain all the way up to the bottom of the access road. Two and a half hours is a long drive in pelting, windshield-obscuring rain over challenging roads, on your way to ski, and it takes a lot of mental discipline or insanity not to just turn the car around and go back to the woodstove and a good book at home. At the base lodge it was snowing sloppy wet flakes heavily. Halfway up it was absolutely dumping with ten inches already on the ground.

Edited by qcanoe - 9/26/14 at 2:33pm
post #42 of 50

Conversely, we stayed an extra night near Jay Peak one time when it was raining but was supposed to turn to snow overnight.  It did turn to snow but not until 5 am and stopped by 6.  Drove up to the hill and talked to a couple of employees, "dust on crust" was the prognosis.   We got in the car and headed home, victims of yet another thaw freeze cycle.  Hey, you makes the drive and you takes your chances.  And that's fine... I can recall several trips to Jay where I woke up to an unexpected foot of fresh snow. 

post #43 of 50
Yeah, last year I hit 1 great powder day at Magic, but also had a couple of trips where storms fizzled out at Stowe and Jay. But the previous year was a lot better, you just have to go and hope for the best and these things even out over time.

As they say, a bad day skiing is better than a good day doing anything else.
post #44 of 50

Personally, I think trying to fly from the EC to catch a storm out west is impractical. 


Plan a 2 week trip to the Rockies in mid-February and rent a car.  You might end up spending the whole trip at one or two mountains.  You might end up spending the whole trip in one state.  Or you might start in one state and then all of sudden find yourself 1500 miles away.  All just part of the adventure.  I'm sure at some point along the way you'll make some great turns and meet some interesting people.


I'd probably start in SLC and go from there. 

post #45 of 50

Agree 100% with HippieFlippinNM on the western trip. There are excellent options both North and South from there to hit as the weather dictates.  Most hotels allow cancellation with either 24 hour or 1 week notification so you can set up hotel options.  


Last minute on the driving sure, but I have never done last minute on the flying.  The only oprion really seems the SouthWest because of their booking policy.  I would prefer a longer time out west with hopes of hitting the goods than chancing the flying.  Delays due to snow on a Western powder trip are quite frustrating.  Book mid january to mid February for best temperatures for powder.

post #46 of 50

I worked with a guy who used to take last minute ski trips out West, before he got married and had a kid.  He would look for a big storm cycle to hit Tahoe for instance (obviously it was a number of years ago), and then go out for 4 days or so.   It wasn't specific powder days, but he would get amazing conditions.

Edited by St Bear - 9/27/14 at 6:13am
post #47 of 50

Whoever said anything about skiing is "practical"? 

post #48 of 50
There is the other path.

1. Get a job at a hedge fund
2. Make a bazillion dollars
3. Buy a G5
4. Hire a bunch of folk to run your business, fuel the bird, and head where ever it's snowing.

As an alternate, buy a heli operation and show up when convenient.

post #49 of 50
Originally Posted by crank View Post

Whoever said anything about skiing storm chasing is "practical"? 

Fixed it for you. ;)

post #50 of 50
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

As an alternate, buy a heli operation and show up when convenient.


A little late, but the cat skiing operation out of Purgatory was for sale last year for just $375,000:



I hope the new owners have fun with it.  Bob, the previous owner mentioned in the article, is a great guy and got to ski more powder than anyone could imagine.    Not only was he the owner, but also the lead guide!


Booking a trip with them is a pretty sure fire way to hunt down powder.

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