Originally Posted by xdog1
With no smartass tone at all, the only real way to hit more dumps is to ski more. If you can swing 2 full weeks (like 1 in Feb., 1 in Mar.) you double your odds.
Hell, last year, all you had to do was go to Utah damn near any time from mid Nov. on. Hope it repeats this year.
Well, here I go again as usual, weighing in towards the bottom of the thread... xdog1 sure wasted no time in nailing this one, on a number of levels...
For that matter, DownhillDave has several worthwhile ideas too - takes one to know one.
Again, with no snooty local wise-guy intentions whatsoever, I'd take it large step further to say that personally, in the late 1970's I realized what so many others have - that the only way that I'd ever be able to do what I need was to move out west, even though it meant significant risks and sacrifices career-wise. Fortunately, although difficult, it has worked out...
Wherever you decide to go, common sense dictates sticking with places that statistically recieve the most snow - at least 400 inches a year or better. Some ski ares even publish climatology data on their own web sites and through the NOAA websites with monthly averages.
In most of the west, particularly the Wasatch Cottonwoods and the Sierras, your statistical odds are very doggone strong anytime from the first good solid post-Christmas/New Year's holiday mess cleanup dump, through Easter. Late October through December will see regular storms, but in terms of powder, the early season issue is the base coverage. Pow that's just deep enough to partially or completely hide but not enough to really cover obstacles in a thin base is potentially a dangerous scenario.
As several others have mentioned here, generally you're better off going later when there's a well established deeper safer base, rather than earlier. At most of the better places west of the Rockies, April isn't considered all that late by any means.
Watch out in February - in most years, a strong persistent high pressure system will set up, go inverted, blocking a few weaker storms, which can sometimes cause a 10-20 day dry spell between late January through February. Normally we'll see some dumpage well into May, but that late in the spring, of couse it won't stay as cold, so the pow won't last as long.
Another key factor to keep in mind is that there are plenty of lesser known smaller places where less traffic means the pow doesn't get skied up as quickly, especially if you can make it during the week, rather than weekends.
Short list of my favorites:
Snowbird/Alta/Brighton/Solitude and Snow Basin, Utah
(In my opinion, for seeking pow, usually the Park City side is not the hot spot; big art galleries, big crowds, big $, small hill, small snow.)
Big Sky, Montana
Mammoth and Tahoe, CA
Whistler Blackcomb, BC Canada
I've heard all kinds of far out things about Mt. Baker, Timberline at Hood, OR and Fernie, BC, a buddy is trying to talk me into it; might go to one or the other this next spring. Evidently, practically everything on the western flank of the Canadian Rockies in BC is fantastic.
Again, obviously this is a very short and incomplete list. You'll notice that Colorado isn't on it.
I might get beaten up on this one. CO has spectacular scenery, terrific terrain and has its moments - I've been lucky enough to have some great fun days there, especially at Keystone and A-Basin. But to me, most of that state is a little under-snowed at times in recent years, and I even know more than a few locals there who'll agree.
Anyway, ultimately, luck will always be a big factor as long as you're in the chasing mode for anything, and powder is one of those things. Luck and Godspeed...!