Yeah, I'm going to Whistler in April, and hoping for a change in the weather pattern. Right now, it looks pretty weak out there. Only 168" of snow so far this year. Amazing.
We were at Whistler last week, and while there was snow up top, the bottom was bare. Conditions on the top depended on temperature - on warm sunny days it was fine but otherwise it was pretty icy. On our last day, there were signs all around warning people to stay on the groomed runs because the rest was not good. We saw some pretty spectacular wipeouts on the bowls. Here is a pic downloading from the gondola into the village. I'll put together a trip report eventually. We had a lot of fun though. Whistler is a great place.
I'm not too concerned. I know it will be fun either way (and the way the winter is going here, I could use a few warm spring days). Flying into Seattle, doing a night in Vancouver, 5 in Whistler, and one in Seattle on the way back. Got an amazing deal on a slopeside condo that, according to that picture, won't really be ski in/ski out, but whatever, it has its own hot tub.
And the only other time I've been there was in July. It snowed up top on one of the days, so good conditions could happen at any time by chance. I have faith it'll turn out well (and if it doesn't, I'd love to check out the mountain biking there, too).
I think the 03/01 snow depth measurement tells the story pretty well:
We're hoping for a repeat of 1999 next year.
The SNOTEL map paints a picture of an entire region in distress:
We had about 8 inches in my region last week. A few other spots picked up some fairly decent totals, but it was a short lived thing... it's warm and sunny again. Highs in the valleys are now in the mid 60's... things are already starting to turn green.
Touring is a chore. We canceled our tour this past Sunday. Although there were reports of good snow in the region on Saturday... the overarching obstacle is the approach. This time of the year, you should find skin-able snow at 2500 ft. Unfortunately, the low elevation snowpack is non-existent; therefore most tours (that offer solitude) require a gear carry of about 2500 vf. Making matters worse, streams that should be frozen over with 4ft of snow, are raging like it's June. Our route for Sunday included 4 stream crossings below 5000ft. Consensus in the group was that someone was bound to get wet... so we decided to go to the ski area instead. Getting wet in June is much more tolerable than getting wet in March.
With it being warm, there is still much fun to be had in the ski area. The snow is thin, but the sun is bright. In a season this bad... you gotta look on the bright side.
Almost at the first bench in Bowl 4
Looking down at Wenatchee and the mighty Columbia 6000 ft below
Looking back into the Bomber area... looks better than last week
Another Winter Weekend Washout in the Northwest. Snow levels are coming down a bit, but in the past 36 hours there has been a lot of rain. Over the past 2 weeks, from a snowpack perspective, things have generally gone from bad to worse. Clear skies and warm sunshine have yielded record warmth in the valleys. Thankfully, this Winter is almost behind us. I'm going to steal a quote from lolkl because I couldn't have said it better myself... this pretty much sums it up for the PNW also:
Well, if you're still thinking of a Montana trip... think again. Think about next year.
At this point, in WA state, lift service operations at most ski areas are on life support. Pretty much everyone is either "temporarily" closed or has reduced their operating schedules considerably. Mission Ridge and Crystal Mtn. still have reduced operations. Baker and Stevens were the most recent to pull the plug. In the Eastern mountains both Mount Spokane and 49 DN are closed.
This is the latest snow depth measurement:
The March 15th measurement typically shows a blossoming snowpack that will promise several more months of easy hikes to good snow, long after the lifts close.
This is what it looked like last Monday at Mission Ridge. Continuous snow is almost gone on the most efficient uphill route:
Looking over to an area called Microwave. This is a Northeast facing slope. The snow is still holding up pretty well over there:
The original plan for last week was to head up to Kicking Horse. We heard a couple of local reports that said "more snow than here, but not worth the 9 hour drive" so we called an audible and headed down to Mount Bachelor (Bend, OR). The snowpack is thin, but the coverage is good. Bachelor is Big, and provides an enormous amount of variety across over 3,500 acres in bounds. Typically, they stay open into May or June. I think that will be difficult this year.
There was rain and drizzle down low and snow up high on Wednesday, with poor visibility. Thursday was bluebird with relatively good snow up high in the morning, and creamy Spring snow in the afternoon. Friday was greybird (sun obscured by high clouds), with a lot of grabby snow... it didn't get below freezing the night before, the surface was extremely variable, and the least enjoyable of the days we were on snow.
Here are some shots from the trip
Looking Northwest from the top of the Skyliner Express:
Looking down Wallaby:
Looking up at Cow's Face
Looking up at West Ridge from the top of the Pine Marten Lift
Hiking up to the top of the cone
Getting ready to drop in on Hourglass
On the last day of the trip, we woke to grey skies and showers, so we decided to head to Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake contains 5 trillion gallons to the purest H2O in the world. It's an amazing site, and a good day trip from Bend.
Looking down at Wizard Island. The cliff in the background rises about 2000 ft from the lake surface
As much as I expected it to be, it's not quite over yet.
Lifts are still spinning at Crystal and Mission. Mission has posted that next weekend is definite, with the following as potential depending on turnout next weekend. Coverage in the upper basin is still pretty good. Down low, snow has been made to cover up the bare spots. I rode a lift at Crystal on the 4th of July the first year I moved out here, so I'm going to assume that they will remain open on weekends for a bit longer. Bachelor and Timberline/Hood are still spinning down in OR. Bachelor will probably stay open into May. Word of powder up high at Whistler yesterday.
As expected, the April 1st snow depth measurement looks terrible. What should be a blossoming flower resembles a shriveled up piece of dog shit:
Definitely a season to forget.
On a more positive note, the weather has normalized a bit. There have been considerable accumulations above 6k. It's still very winter like on the Volcanoes. I've seen lots of reports of good snow around Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, and Mt Rainier. We've had about 18 inches of new snow above 6K over the past 2 weeks on the East side:
The models are showing continued normalcy (maybe even a bit below normalcy) over the next 2 weeks. I recently read an analysis that indicated a potential 4-5ft of new snow (with snow levels as low as 3.5k) in the near term. We have a trip planned over to Rainier some time this month depending on the weather. In the past, we have made this trip in June. We changed plans with the increasing likelyhood of finding some powder.
Lift services in WA state officially ceased on Sunday 04/19. Crystal was the last mountain standing. Mission closed up operations the prior weekend. That said, snow can be found in many areas of the PNW 12 months out of the year, if you are willing to work for it (Palmer at Timberline being an exception). If anyone is interested in planning a trip for some Summer Snow, let me know. I can provide some high level advice on planning. I have earned turns during all of the summer months. Even in a Winter season as bad as this past one, there's always ride-able snow on the glaciers.