Too much Snow causing problems at some Resorts

Mammoth Mountain

Photo courtesy Squaw Valley

Have you ever heard a skier or snowboarder say “there’s too much snow?” Well, some of you may have already said it or have heard someone say it this year. This winter has been a monster for certain areas including the Sierras in California, the Lake Tahoe region, Salt Lake City, Wyoming, and much of Colorado. Basically, you know there is too much when the chairs on the lift aren’t high enough. It’s also too much when the resort closes the mountains for avalanche concerns.

Mammoth Mountain

Photo courtesy Squaw Valley

In the Sierras, Mammoth Mountain currently has a base depth of 268 inches. That’s over 22 feet of snow with over 141 inches coming in 9 days. There is another 20-30 inches expected in the next day.

Courtesy Mammoth Mountain

In Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley has already received 281 inches of snow. In January alone, they have received 177 inches which is 107 inches more then normal. This is a record for Squaw and has prompted their “januBURIED” promotion. In Colorado, Crested Butte has received over 18 feet of snow this year and Arapahoe Basin is up to 200 inches so far producing some of the best amount of snow in years.

While all of this snow leads to great conditions for skiing and riding, it isn’t all perfect. You can actually get so much snow that avalanche crews will need to delay openings or in what is more common than thought of, rescue people from being buried due to an avalanche. So people are saying that this is one of the worst snow seasons for avalanches in 30 years. Colorado is the deadliest state for avalanche fatalities. 25 people have died so far this year due to avalanches.

In order to help with avalanches, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, tracks dangerous areas and provides information on areas that people should avoid as shown in the map below.

Colorado Avalance

Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center

On this map, areas of extreme danger are marked in black which warning areas are marked in red. These are areas that need to be avoided. Below is an example of some of the methods used by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Snowpack Observations on Southerly Aspects in the Vail/Summit Zone

While many of us dream away at getting a large amount of snow so we can escape to those fresh un-skied areas, it is important to pay attention to warnings and never venture off where you shouldn’t be. There are excellent crews that know what they’re doing and if we listen up and follow their advise, we can be enjoying the vast amounts of snow in no time.


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