or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Definition of "GOOD" skiing?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Definition of "GOOD" skiing?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Today was an interesting day.  Here in Jackson Hole, we're almost at the end of March and certainly into the "spring skiing" realm.

 

We had seven inches of new snow reported last night on the upper part of the Jackson Hole mountain.   This seven inches is significant because it took our season total snowfall - at the measurement stakes high on the mountain - over 400".

 

That means something because we at Jackson Hole like to think that our average annual snowfall ON THE MOUNTAIN is over 400 inches.  That's a somewhat debatable number, however,  because over the last few years - climate change deniers cover your eyes/ears here - we have had a relatively high total-season snowfall above 8'000 feet in elevation and relatively LOW season snowfall below that level.

 

Anyway, today was the magic number of 400".  At the 9,000 foot level.  No total snowfall measurements seem to exist, as far as I know, at the bottom of our mountain.

 

Those of us who have been here for more than a few years are somewhat skeptical of that 400" number because the BOTTOM of the mountain (at 6,300 feet of elevation) has received nowhere near the total snowfall that our snow-stake measurements have received at roughly 9,000 feet of elevation.

 

So with that as a prelude, today was an interesting day.  The seven inches that were reported at the top of the mountain didn't even REMOTELY reflect the skiing from about the 9,000-foot-level and down.  There was MAYBE two inches of new snow on top of groomed slush from yesterday afternoon. That means the skiing on the groomers was an inch or two of blown-in new snow (from 40-mph winds) on top of re-frozen groomed snow - hard and bouncy - on the main runs.

 

So I'm wondering if any of you who ski at other resorts can chime in on what "spring" skiing is like at your resort.  Do you feel it's "good" skiing even if the surface on main runs is at least smooth on the groomers even if it's frozen and hard and noisy and rattles a lot?

 

The interesting thing here is that if you went a thousand vertical feet higher (i.e. up the JH tram), you got into wind-deposited powder that was actually pretty fun to ski.  I'm not saying it was "great" skiing, but it was good enough that we all were telling ourselves that it was pretty good.

 

Do you find a similar experience at your own resort this time of year?  I'm not in any way minimizing the surfaces that our grooming crew produces on the main runs.  I can't believe how well they've maintained our heavy-use runs.  

 

I'm simply asking those of you who live at a destination ski resort if your standards drop down a few notches when you get into the last couple of weeks of the ski season?

post #2 of 27
It's really uneven here in March. I wouldn't say my standards drop. I just never know when I leave the house whether they will be met. Yesterday was 20° at the summit and snowing. Today was blue sky and melting. The next week it's going to be in the 40's everyday. Yet last year we had some of our best powder days (real fluff) in April. So I live in hope. We have a great base depth up high (119" this AM), but it's 90 inches lower at the base lodge.
post #3 of 27

Spring skiing at Loveland tends to be similar to mid-winter, unless we get a real warm spell, at which point we have dust over frozen chicken heads in the morning, followed by punchy, or pasty afternoons. Fortunately the upper mountain typically remains mid-winterish right up to closing day (1st weekend in May). A lot has to do with the base elevation of 10,800. Whole different ballgame at the resorts in the area that start out closer to 8,000.

 

May-closing at A-Basin can be a mixed bag. I find that I'm solar powered for most of the late season; if it's not going to be 50-60F+ and sunny, I'll stick to bike riding, unless we get some significant snow accumulation, which isn't out of the question either.

 

FWIW, I'm from the northeast, and really like spring slush bumps. IMO western natural snow has a tendency to become too pasty/punchy with not enough traffic, and too warm temps/sun exposure.

post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

I'm simply asking those of you who live at a destination ski resort if your standards drop down a few notches when you get into the last couple of weeks of the ski season?

I guess you're not asking me, but I'll butt in anyway.  Last week at Mt. Baker I experienced similar conditions to the ones you describe.  In our case it was some wet goo from the day previous with about 2" of new on top.  There were little balls all over the place that looked like death cookies, but were soft.  It was cream cheese with butter balls.  Seemingly nobody was there and I had the place nearly to myself.  I found the conditions fantastic, except where it was chopped up; the lumpy leftovers had quite a bit of mass.

 

I had two days in a row like that, and I think it was great skiing.  My standards didn't change.   On my personal list of ski days I grade each day and I try to be brutally honest.  Deep bluebird powder days get an A, but nothing else does. These days got solid Bs.

post #5 of 27

I was skiing in St Anton yesterday and after 4 days of good conditions I'd say yesterday had deteriorated to the sort of "good enough" conditions you describe.  Basically a lot of warming the previous day had resulted in a hard refreeze and/or suncrust most places that had been great previously and even groomers took a fair amount of traffic to corn up pleasantly.  Just a feature of spring I suspect. Really need to get some weightless SL skis ( that will fit additionally into a baggage allowance) so can quiver up for travelling.

post #6 of 27

Good Spring skiing for me, no make that excellent  = skiing on a corn surface, NOT SLUSH, peppered with bumps that explode when you hit them vs putting your knees into your chin followed by a cold one or three on the deck of a watering hole at the base of a trail, ie the umbrella bar at the base of superstar @ Killington.

 

Yes, slush puddles, refrozen groomed that disintegrates into washboard marbles, bumps that are mush on the top and icy in the troughs are more likely to be found. But if my timing is right and I can land in the corn zone, spring skiing remains one of my favorite times of the year.

 

Last Saturday, Outer Limits @ Killington was close.

 

Falcon_O aka Charlie

 

post #7 of 27

From late November to early March my home mountain mostly gets small frequent storms often snowing lightly all day with flakes the size of grains of sand. Combine this with noticeably drier air than most places and the snow quality is second to none.

 

By early March I usually have 60-70 days in and due to the above I am kind of jaded. The wetter heavier spring skiing conditions are not always to my liking and my home mountain's predominately southern exposure can mean that things can turn to mush in a hurry. One always seems to be chasing the conditions on spring days, waiting for runs to soften up and then needing to find other places to go when the run gets too soft.

 

OTOH last Saturday was sunny with very good fun to ski corn snow all over the mountain. Then on Monday we had 4" windblown snow on most of the mountain. Tuesday was soft snow up top and sticky on the lower mountain.with thawed out former death cookies that when skied into were more liked uncooked dough.

post #8 of 27
Meh.,, so long as we're not dodging rocks and dirt, I'm pretty easily satisfied. The hill telemetry data is money for predicting conditions, in the early AM in the spring, it's GS ski or carver time time if Im not teaching. From about 10:30 onward, it's the old reliable 85's... corn, mush, north facing pockets of winters soft goodness, recrusted/branded funk, etc... The hill is still skiing incredibly well this season. There's more 'variety' in the spring is all. I can't say I'd be super enthusiastic about skiing the spring white ribbon of death in the photo above, though. Diminishing returns and all.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

Today was an interesting day.  Here in Jackson Hole, we're almost at the end of March and certainly into the "spring skiing" realm.

 

We had seven inches of new snow reported last night on the upper part of the Jackson Hole mountain.   This seven inches is significant because it took our season total snowfall - at the measurement stakes high on the mountain - over 400".

 

That means something because we at Jackson Hole like to think that our average annual snowfall ON THE MOUNTAIN is over 400 inches.  That's a somewhat debatable number, however,  because over the last few years - climate change deniers cover your eyes/ears here - we have had a relatively high total-season snowfall above 8'000 feet in elevation and relatively LOW season snowfall below that level.

 

Anyway, today was the magic number of 400".  At the 9,000 foot level.  No total snowfall measurements seem to exist, as far as I know, at the bottom of our mountain.

 

Those of us who have been here for more than a few years are somewhat skeptical of that 400" number because the BOTTOM of the mountain (at 6,300 feet of elevation) has received nowhere near the total snowfall that our snow-stake measurements have received at roughly 9,000 feet of elevation.

 

So with that as a prelude, today was an interesting day.  The seven inches that were reported at the top of the mountain didn't even REMOTELY reflect the skiing from about the 9,000-foot-level and down.  There was MAYBE two inches of new snow on top of groomed slush from yesterday afternoon. That means the skiing on the groomers was an inch or two of blown-in new snow (from 40-mph winds) on top of re-frozen groomed snow - hard and bouncy - on the main runs.

 

So I'm wondering if any of you who ski at other resorts can chime in on what "spring" skiing is like at your resort.  Do you feel it's "good" skiing even if the surface on main runs is at least smooth on the groomers even if it's frozen and hard and noisy and rattles a lot?

 

The interesting thing here is that if you went a thousand vertical feet higher (i.e. up the JH tram), you got into wind-deposited powder that was actually pretty fun to ski.  I'm not saying it was "great" skiing, but it was good enough that we all were telling ourselves that it was pretty good.

 

Do you find a similar experience at your own resort this time of year?  I'm not in any way minimizing the surfaces that our grooming crew produces on the main runs.  I can't believe how well they've maintained our heavy-use runs.  

 

I'm simply asking those of you who live at a destination ski resort if your standards drop down a few notches when you get into the last couple of weeks of the ski season?


To answer your question.  Yes.  Especially at the steeper resorts like Squaw and Kirkwood. 

Northstar still maintains pretty well but its less exposed. 

post #10 of 27
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

 

Do you find a similar experience at your own resort this time of year?  I'm not in any way minimizing the surfaces that our grooming crew produces on the main runs.  I can't believe how well they've maintained our heavy-use runs.  

 

I'm simply asking those of you who live at a destination ski resort if your standards drop down a few notches when you get into the last couple of weeks of the ski season?

 

The spring skiing at Heavenly has been excellent this year.  In an average snow year it will be good to the end.

 

As for my expectations this time of year, they do not go down. In spring I expect there to be good corn on sunny days and horrible conditions on other days (unless it is a powder day).  Some people find it bad that you have to take your skis off and hike 50 yards to get out of killibrew canyon or pick your way through some of the more difficult traverses.  However, i think that just keeps the skier traffic down in those areas and the snow stays better.

post #11 of 27

About to head to Mammoth for a week of sunny skies, warm temps, deep base, and my 2nd favorite type of skiing: SLUSH BUMPS!!!! I love spring skiing at Mammoth. I am more relaxed and get to the slopes around 10ish and follow the sun around. I don't think I have ever experienced true corn because of the amount of traffic but I really enjoy slush and I really hate ice. I think the key at Mammoth is how often it is sunny with very little clouds. Clouds can really ruin a spring day unless the temps are very warm then they could be a good thing. I also enjoy trying to figure out which runs will have the best snow at various times throughout the day. Its a nice mental challenge. I'm wrong often unfortunately.

post #12 of 27

I hate March at Tahoe. If you do get good new snow it turns to slush quickly once the sun comes out. And then once it's just about to be decent corn another snow fall that isn't enough to be good powder skiing but just enough to restart the corn cycle--until it stops freezing at night and then it just stays slush. Of course we do get a good corn season some years but I can only ski corn so many times before I lose interest. Give me the low sun and cold temps of January. Of course I wouldn't appreciate January as much as I do if it weren't for March-through November.

post #13 of 27

My brother and I were discussing "good skiing" just yesterday - March 29 - in a raging, dumping, puking snowstorm reminiscent of January.

photo: Tom  skier: Bill  place: Beaver Mountain, Spring Road, 3/29/16

 

We were ecstatic about being able to ski such wonderful powder this late in the season but we both acknowledged that we also enjoy laying down big deep arcs on the groomers (which constituted most of our season last year). Our conclusion was that variety keeps skiing fun, if not always epic. I classify spring skiing as another part of skiing fun that can be epic (perfect corn coming down Arrowhead at Snowbasin), good (medium hard corduroy), kind of fun for some (slushy moguls), or just plain "start the grill, grab a beverage, and forget the skiing."  Plenty of variety. My standards for skiing in the spring are always flexible, but then, I rarely travel to a destination resort. With an inexpensive season pass at Beaver Mountain, I can afford to adjust my standards as to how "good" the skiing is - ski the prime moment when snow just begins to soften, then drive home and plant the pansies when things deteriorate. And since the Beav begins at 7200 feet and only tops out at 8800, the skiing is pretty consistent top to bottom. I skied the Pole Pedal Paddle at Jackson Hole years ago toward the end of March and just as Bob has described, the top was 2 inches of windblown on top of chalky snow, icy hardpacked at about 8000 feet, then slushy rollers under the tram at the bottom. Screaming thighs notwithstanding, it was great fun.

 

The first year we skied Snowbird on July 4th, it was cold and overcast - hardly the "good" summer skiing experience I had hoped for. But my standards for a great time were set pretty low to begin with. I was merely there to experience tram-serviced July skiing. It became "good" simply because I had created a standard I knew I could meet: celebrate Independence Day by skiing Snowbird. And get a T shirt. 

post #14 of 27

I just finished up my 10 day pass, (+ 2 extra days), at JH this past Saturday.  Had days in Dec, Jan, Feb and March - some really nice, some pretty sketchy.  I have noticed that the last couple of seasons at JH are in general good on the upper lifts, but the lower mountain struggles.  Maybe my standards have dropped, but I was even having fun on the Hobacks this past week - snow was soft until the sun started to get lower late in the afternoon.  The 9" that we received on the 24th was nice from about 7,500 up, but as Bob points out, the bottom of the mountain didn't receive anywhere near that.

I did take a run outside the gates over on the "dark side" and that was definitely "GOOD"!

 

post #15 of 27

"If you have to ask, you'll never know." Louis Armstrong

post #16 of 27

... a better definition to good skiing ... Because, otherwise ... it's aawll good.

 

 

 

Speed it up to 1.25 because it is already a little too slow. This video is one of the best out there because it offers a lot of very clear frontal shots and offering a wide array of Hirscher's many tactical movement patterns.

post #17 of 27

So, what does this ^^^ have to do with the subject of this thread?  Pleas re-read the OP.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

 

I'm simply asking those of you who live at a destination ski resort if your standards drop down a few notches when you get into the last couple of weeks of the ski season?

 

It looks kind of icy to me. ;)  Was the video above shot in the spring?

post #18 of 27
Quote = Bob Peters:
Those of us who have been here for more than a few years are somewhat skeptical of that 400" number because the BOTTOM of the mountain (at 6,300 feet of elevation) has received nowhere near the total snowfall that our snow-stake measurements have received at roughly 9,000 feet of elevation.

I do not use that new (since 1998) snow measurement site near the top of the Bridger gondola because I feel it's unrepresentative of JHMR terrain overall. Jackson comes to  a peak at the top of Rendezvous but fans out to an immense expanse at lower elevation.  The mid-mountain snowfall shown in smaller print on the JHMR snow report page is from a long term site (I have data back to 1971) at 8,250.  There is more lift served terrain at JHMR below 8,250 than above.  The mid-mountain site had 310 inches from Nov. 1 - closing day Apr. 3,  which is 90% of normal.  The mid-mountain average is not "over 400 inches." It's 368 inches, which still puts JHMR in a high though not elite snowfall tier for North American ski areas.

Quote = Bob Peters:

No total snowfall measurements seem to exist, as far as I know, at the bottom of our mountain.

They do, or at least did in 1991. When I first became curious about collecting snowfall data, long term ranger Gary Paulson at Jackson was the first person who cooperated and referred me to Knox Williams who gave me data for lots of resorts. Gary gave me data for JHMR including base of the mountain, which I recall averaged something like 180 inches. I'm sure I have a folder of what Gary sent me buried deep somewhere, And if Bob is interested I'll try to dig it out sometime.  I would be somewhat surprised if base area conditions at Jackson have a negative trend over time. 

Quote = Bob Peters:
I'm simply asking those of you who live at a destination ski resort if your standards drop down a few notches when you get into the last couple of weeks of the ski season?

I do not live at a ski resort but Mammoth with 328 days and 7 million vertical skied since 1978 qualifies as a home mountain of sorts.  Winter lasts on the upper half of Mammoth over 9,000 and north facing (meaning no melt-freeze conditions) until about a week or two into April on average.  It is very rare to see majority spring conditions at Mammoth before mid-March.   Early April (4/9/1999) at Mammoth produced the greatest lift served powder day of my life, and that time frame has perhaps my highest expectations at Mammoth because the snowpack is maximum and the steep upper terrain is a little less likely to be closed for weather but still fairly likely to have winter snow.

Quote = MT Skull:
Spring skiing at Loveland tends to be similar to mid-winter, unless we get a real warm spell, at which point we have dust over frozen chicken heads in the morning, followed by punchy, or pasty afternoons. Fortunately the upper mountain typically remains mid-winterish right up to closing day (1st weekend in May). A lot has to do with the base elevation of 10,800. Whole different ballgame at the resorts in the area that start out closer to 8,000.

The entire month of April is more often than not part of winter at Loveland/A-Basin.  In addition to the high base elevations, April is the second snowiest month along the Continental Divide.  There are other places in Colorado that close the same time as Jackson first weekend of April (Crested Butte, Telluride) where it's often still winter conditions at closing.

 

The other key factor in snow preservation is exposure, and the steeper the mountain, the more important the exposure is. Jackson is a real outlier among steeper mountains in its low proportion of north vs. south facing. Montana Snowbowl is the only other place I've skied more extreme in this regard.  Note also DanoT's comments about a home mountain with a lot of south exposure:

Quote = DanoT:
The wetter heavier spring skiing conditions are not always to my liking and my home mountain's predominately southern exposure can mean that things can turn to mush in a hurry. One always seems to be chasing the conditions on spring days, waiting for runs to soften up and then needing to find other places to go when the run gets too soft.

 

So there is great variation among resorts when the onset of spring conditions happens, and Bob's question probably relates to our evolving standards during this process.  At Mammoth a lot of lifts and about half of terrain close after the third weekend in April, but all of the upper mountain steeps remain accessible.   Unlike Bob's situation, Mammoth is a 5-hour drive with overnight lodging required, so my standards for quality skiing have to be fairly high to go there.  In May in the Sierra the prevailing weather pattern is for clear skies, which is conducive to overnight freezing at sufficient altitude and corn formation during the day.   Mammoth assists the process by salting the groomed runs, particularly helpful when it does not freeze overnight.   The upper steeps range in exposure from ENE to NW, often resulting in ideal spring surfaces somewhere up there from ~9AM to past 1PM.  In normal or better years I'm usually there Memorial Day weekend and rarely disappointed. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

About to head to Mammoth for a week of sunny skies, warm temps, deep base, and my 2nd favorite type of skiing: SLUSH BUMPS!!!! I love spring skiing at Mammoth. I am more relaxed and get to the slopes around 10ish and follow the sun around. I don't think I have ever experienced true corn because of the amount of traffic but I really enjoy slush and I really hate ice. I think the key at Mammoth is how often it is sunny with very little clouds. Clouds can really ruin a spring day unless the temps are very warm then they could be a good thing. I also enjoy trying to figure out which runs will have the best snow at various times throughout the day. Its a nice mental challenge. I'm wrong often unfortunately.


The above is typical in my Mammoth experience for May not April, and after 37 years I hope I've figured out the spring snow timing.   It is true that the best corn needs to be undisturbed when it is forming  and Mammoth has enough skier traffic that you may need to seek out some more obscure spots for that. The summit of Mt. Bachelor in April/May has North America's best lift served corn as skier density particularly on its backside is extremely low.  I've had 5 days of near corn perfection there and it's worth a destination trip if you can get that.  I've been up there in April/May during a couple of the recent lean Sierra seasons and ironically there wasn't much corn because it snowed while I was there or just before.

 

Post Memorial Day Mammoth generally reaches a point where the ski day is barely a half day, and while I still enjoy them, those trips are often a mixed vacation, skiing one day and going over Tioga Pass into Yosemite for hiking or some other activity the rest of the trip.  The upper steeps can get suncupped, and the best skiing is following skier-packed lines.  During the record 2010-11 season I skied 3 days over the July 4 closing holiday as there was so much snow its was more like an average Memorial Day.

 

Readers can check out these TR's and decide for themselves how well they fit the definition of "GOOD" skiing.

Mammoth June 10, 2006: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=2128

Mammoth May 23-25, 2009: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=8005

Mammoth June 19, 2010: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=8992

Mammoth July 2-3, 2011: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=97

35K at Mammoth May 18, 2013: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=10987#p69100

Obviously these were cream of the crop spring days, but they were also the very late season ones.   This level of skiing or better is fairly common at Mammoth in late April/early May.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 4/8/16 at 12:09pm
post #19 of 27

It's all good :)

post #20 of 27

 

10AM Saturday on Aspen Mountain.

Most locals don't get out early this time of year.  But the nice thing about Aspen mountain, we have multiple exposures at all altitudes, so you can just about always find good skiing.

This is the very bottom and the groomers on Spring Pitch/Strawpile were soft a 9am.

I don't have any idea of snow totals.   I'm sure it was meager compared to some places, but it was a good year.

post #21 of 27

There's skiing, good skiing, and great skiing conditions.

 

If you enjoyed it, had fun, weren't injured and didn't encounter any other problems that's "good skiing".

 

If conditions were significantly better than average and crowds were low, that's "GREAT skiing".

 

If conditions were sub par, or you encountered a few problems but were still glad you made the trip, that's "skiing".

post #22 of 27

Unless you get injured,any day is a good day on the hill.

post #23 of 27

Unlike Sib, my standards drop. :D On a good spring day, morning ice morphs into afternoon slush and crud, so a narrow sweet spot spent chasing the optimal density, lunches last longer, the parka does off by 2 pm, less charging because racing's over and my body's got a season more wear and tear on it. So if the sun's out, and there's enough coverage to protect my bases, I'll call it "good skiing" that would be mediocre at best in early February. It's all about context and expectations...

post #24 of 27
My standards are apparently pretty low to start with. As long as I'm not dodging too many rocks and bare patches, call it "good enough."

I'm a little frustrated, Stevens received 11" of snow Monday night, but I had commitments for Tuesday. Maybe I'll get there tomorrow when it's forecast to be in the low 60's at the base. It'll all be wet, heavy slop off piste and soft groomers on piste for about two runs before it all turns to glue. Can't wait.....
post #25 of 27

Spring in the PNW can mean anything from a foot of snow to spring slush, sometimes only a day apart as pointed out by @DesiredUsername... but I appreciate it for what it is: a ski season that isn't over yet.  So to answer the original question...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

Do you feel it's "good" skiing even if the surface on main runs is at least smooth on the groomers even if it's frozen and hard and noisy and rattles a lot?

 

No, what you described there isn't "good", IMO.  It could still be fun, the two aren't mutually exclusive, but what you described definitely isn't "good".  Personally, in the heart of winter I hope for "good" skiing.  In spring, I hope for "fun" skiing.

post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

There's skiing, good skiing, and great skiing conditions.

 

If you enjoyed it, had fun, weren't injured and didn't encounter any other problems that's "good skiing".

 

If conditions were significantly better than average and crowds were low, that's "GREAT skiing".

 

If conditions were sub par, or you encountered a few problems but were still glad you made the trip, that's "skiing".

I would put the 5 corn perfection days at Bachelor, and Mammoth days on the level of May 18, 2013 in the "GREAT skiing" category above, easily in the top 10% of lifetime ski days. Yes you need to be lucky to get days like that, but great skiing is not guaranteed in February either.

 

I vote for expected ski quality with my time and $$$.   Early season skiing is overrated and late season skiing is underrated.  If forced to choose in advance, Memorial Day is a better bet than Thanksgiving.   My median opening day is December 16 and my median closing day is May 27.

post #27 of 27

Its all good skiing.

 

But some of it is Great.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Definition of "GOOD" skiing?