6 Days

Six days ago it was a different world in the mountains of Colorado. An upper-level ridge of high pressure had been moving back and forth between the intermountain west and the West Coast. The few disturbances that made it through or around the ridge delivered mostly rain and high elevation dustings with little wind. At the resorts, snowmaking efforts were hindered by warm nights and cloudless, dry days. Most south faces melted out all the way up to 14,000', while north faces above and slightly below treeline retained 3-6" of faceted "junk" snow that fell during the late days of September and through the entire month of October.

The south faces of Hagar, Citadel, Pettingel and Trelease with a late-October dusting of snow.

The south faces of Hagar, Citadel, Pettingel and Trelease with a late-October dusting of snow.

Despite the lean "low-tide" snow conditions, there was some skiing to be had. Arapahoe Basin opened on October 17, and the usual early season spots along the Continental Divide were good for some cheap thrills. One particular spot gave us some beautiful scenery and tricky skiing in early November.

Mark Morris making some difficult conditions look easy. The low angle of the November sun is a photographer's friend.

Mark Morris making some difficult conditions look easy. The low angle of the November sun is a photographer's friend.

 

On November 10th, a blocking pattern in the form of an "omega block" over western Canada drove cold, polar air southward across the great plains and up against the Front Range mountains. A quick 6-12" fell during the afternoon on Monday, causing numerous road closures as temperatures dropped as much as 30 degrees in less than an hour. This was just the beginning of a prolonged period of snowfall across the state. Record lows were set along the plains adjacent to the Front Range from the WY border to Pueblo. On Wednesday a cold front stalled in an W-E line along the I-70 corridor. Heavy snow fell across Summit County. The town of Silverthorne received over a foot of fluffy snow during the day. After a short break in the snowfall, a vigorous "short-wave" moved in from the northwest dropping an additional foot over the higher terrain across the entire state.

The frigid airmass was visible in the valley south of Berthoud Pass on Tuesday evening.

The frigid airmass was visible in the valley south of Berthoud Pass on Tuesday evening.

The week-long storm left cold temperatures and 3-5 feet of snow in the mountains of Summit, Clear Creek, and Eagle Counties. I was able to get out in the Loveland Pass area shortly after the road opened this morning. Trevor, Casey, Scott and I were greeted with subzero temperatures, making for fun but somewhat slow snow conditions. The surface was surprisingly unaffected by the wind.

Scott Wilkins making his best turns of the season, so far.

Scott Wilkins making his best turns of the season, so far.

Casey Day getting a long awaited faceshot.

Casey Day getting a long awaited faceshot.