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.
Originally Posted by agreen
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