Marc's Public Blog - Skiing / Snowboarding / Snow


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This is a collection of my blog entries about snowboarding.
You can find all the pictures I've taken here, and read below for the more recent trips that I have recorded in blog entries:

Table of Content for snow:

More pages: February 2019 January 2019 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 November 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 April 2015 March 2015 December 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 December 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 March 2011 February 2011 December 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 December 2009 March 2009 February 2009 December 2008 April 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 December 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 December 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 November 2004 April 2004 March 2004 February 2004




2019/02/12 First Snowmobile Trip around Mt Tremblant, Canada
π 2019-02-12 01:01 in Cars, Snow
After arriving in Mt Tremblant, and snowboarding a few hours, I confirmed that anything not groomed was sheer ice, so I figured I might as well try some snowmobiling instead while waiting for the incoming ft+ storm.

I had to drive 20mn to a nearby town and rent for a local store. They just gave me a 2mn briefing on what button does what, a crappy map showing me where to go (this included crossing multiple roads). Sadly, I ended up missing a turn that was not obvious at all and had to ride on the street only to figure out that a snowmobile cannot turn at all on asphalt, making things very hard.
Eventually I got help and directions back towards the trail and had a great 70km 2h30 ride across cold canadian wilderness.
I could have flipped the thing multiple times and hurt myself easily. I did top out at 100kph and caught air at least once, as well as scared myself a few times but managed not to understeer into a river or a half frozen lake :)

This probably wouldn't last more than a few days if they allowed americans to rent those things with no guidance, or a proper map (I had to use my GPS more than once to find breadcrumbs back), or over drive off the trail into a tree, or a lake :)

Either way, definitely had fun, and this probably beat any speed limited guided tour available anywhere else.






yeah, the planes were unexpected
yeah, the planes were unexpected



I eventually reached a place that had dog sleigh rides, and turned back there
I eventually reached a place that had dog sleigh rides, and turned back there


Covered wooden bridge, very nice
Covered wooden bridge, very nice







2019/02/12 2.5 days at Mt Tremblant
π 2019-02-12 01:01 in Snow
Because I happened to be nearby for the Porsche ice driving school, I figured I might as well go check out Mt Tremblant, especially as I went to its racetrack in the summer 8 years ago and while we were there, they nicely gave us a ride to the ski resort during the summer.

It almost looked the same :)


Anyway, I left my previous hotel bright and early for the 1h drive to Mt Tremblant. A big storm was coming in later that day, so it was great to have a room at the Marriott with underground parking and walking to the slopes:



the village is cute
the village is cute


given that it was a weekday without new snow, no lines
given that it was a weekday without new snow, no lines

this was a summary of the resort: ice city...
this was a summary of the resort: ice city...



Sadly, the first day was cold (-18C) and no new snow. Due to freezing rain the week prior, the entire place was covered with ice outside of trails that were groomed, but the grooming only lasted so long:

going down to soleil was a big mistake, sun facing slopes were of course sheer ice
going down to soleil was a big mistake, sun facing slopes were of course sheer ice


After a few hours or doing mostly boring groomers and hating my life the moment I left groomers, so I left the slopes by noon and went snowmobiling instead.


Thankfully the next morning we got over 30cm of new snow, which fixed a lot of things:



my hotel gave me an early tracks pass, was able to up 45mn earlier, score
my hotel gave me an early tracks pass, was able to up 45mn earlier, score

it snowed most of the day, so we got more
it snowed most of the day, so we got more


it didn't suck, but the snow was barely enough to cover the ice in places
it didn't suck, but the snow was barely enough to cover the ice in places



not a big sign
not a big sign

wait, I'm out of bounds? Since when?
wait, I'm out of bounds? Since when?

the village was more snowy by the end of the day :)
the village was more snowy by the end of the day :)




hot tubs were missing an Arturo :)
hot tubs were missing an Arturo :)

Day 3 got another 15 to 20cm, which helped refill the tracks somewhat from the previous day:



haha, great that they tell you
haha, great that they tell you

oh boy, some of the translations were wrong. This one actually said the opposite...
oh boy, some of the translations were wrong. This one actually said the opposite...

a bit of a line, but I was almost first to go up
a bit of a line, but I was almost first to go up

not so warm either, but good to keep the snow
not so warm either, but good to keep the snow

the north facing side had 3 good high speed chairs and better snow
the north facing side had 3 good high speed chairs and better snow

more snow
more snow

pseudo side-country was pretty good
pseudo side-country was pretty good


'le edge', haha
'le edge', haha

short moment of sun
short moment of sun

other side country
other side country

By 12:30 I got off the slopes to get back to the airport, but had yummy of poutine (with chicken and bacon) for the drive back :)


See more images for 2.5 days at Mt Tremblant
2019/01/31 Company Outing at Northstar
π 2019-01-31 01:01 in Snow
This was my 2nd outing to Northstar with my group. This year we had snow at least, unfortunately it was mostly freeze/thaw snow, but Northstar did a good job grooming it so that the trails were ok enough to ride. Anyting outside of that was sheer misery and ice, though.

The sad part was leaving just as a storm rolled in, bringing in 2-4ft of snow...











See more images for Company Outing at Northstar
2019/01/06 Couple of Powder Days at Kirkwood with Arturo
π 2019-01-06 01:01 in Snow
Snow started a bit late this year. The first real snow started when I was leaving for Xmas, so I missed that. As luck would have it during a mere 4 days I was home between a France and New Zealand trip, we got a nice storm system that hit Tahoe. The storm was tricky, changed a lot, initially dumped less snow at Kirkwood than planned, and stranded a lot of people in Lake Tahoe on sunday night as the roads closed for the night.

Day #1 was a bit busy, but not terribly so. Sadly only 6" in the morning, but more fell during the day:

we were in line at Cornice
we were in line at Cornice

but the wall ended up opening first
but the wall ended up opening first

cornice got a bit busy when it opened
cornice got a bit busy when it opened


KW tried to stay open as long as they good despite hellish winds and terrible viz at the tops, and eventually had to close around 15:00. Not a big deal, we had had enough fun by then

Day #2 got a bunch of snow overnight, but it was a bit wet (almost sierra cement), and because both roads to KW were closed. As a result, KW opened very late as the snow was dangerous and they were short staffed since somehow they still let some of their critical staff drive back to South Lake before a storm that is likely to segment KW. In the end, they only opened at 11:30 which was kind of pathetic, but they made up for it by opening Cornice just before noon, and the Wall arount 14:00, which was really good, especially given the very few crowds:



not really crowded
not really crowded

that viz was still better than the viz from the previous afternoon
that viz was still better than the viz from the previous afternoon

by 14:30, we finally got to see the sky for a short time, while enjoying 5-6 runs off the wall
by 14:30, we finally got to see the sky for a short time, while enjoying 5-6 runs off the wall



Day #2 was definitely good once things opened, especially with so few people on the mountain.

2018/04/12 Late Season Quick Powder Day at Sugarbowl
π 2018-04-12 01:01 in Snow
This year was not the best snow year in Tahoe, it only got good in March, making for a short season. After that, we got warm weather and a lot of melting.
And out of nowhere, a cold front came. Unfortunately, the initially promised 12 inches for sugarbowl became a mere 5 inches by the time we arrived, so that was a bit of a let down, but eh, it was still snow :)
This wasn't quite enough to cover the ice underneath and wind blown locations were sheer ice given that the new snow was actually cold and light.

I hadn't been to Sugarbowl in over 10 years, so it was nice to go back and give it a shot. A big thanks to Marius who was a trooper and drove us there and back when I was clearly not awake.









By the end of day, clouds came in and it was starting to ice up a bit, so we had enough and went back.

2018/03/23 Day Trip at Kirkwood with Johannes
π 2018-03-23 01:01 in Snow
We left around 05:00 and by the time we crossed 88, Caltrans had no news about them opening, or them even working on it. Sadly they were actually working on it, but failed to say anything about it. After we had well passed the junction point, I got an alert that Carson Spur had opened, so we took a very non obvious (which Johannes described as "scenic" :) ).

We got to Kirkwood 45mn later than needed due to the long detour, but still made it by 09:15 or so. Because cornice did not open until 10:00 or so, and the Wall not until noon-ish, we did not miss out too much despite arriving later than planned. The snow was packed powder due to the water content, but it was still powder. Better than sierra cement or ice :) Crowds were not terrible, thanks to it being a friday.

the wall was bombed a lot
the wall was bombed a lot

we had a mix of sun, high wind and snow flurries
we had a mix of sun, high wind and snow flurries




glad to see another smart snowboarder, with poles :)
glad to see another smart snowboarder, with poles :)

Thanks Johannes for getting us there and back!

2018/03/14 2.5 days of Muchos Powder in Kirkwood
π 2018-03-14 01:01 in Snow
I had been watching the weather forecast for a while, and drove to kirkwood just before the storm turned from rain to snow. I got there with my Tesla 90D in just 3h30, including an 18mn supercharger stop in Manteca. I ended up arriving with 10% battery left in record time, just as the rain was turning to snow:




Day #1 was nice and had a bit of sun to help see the nice powder. Almost everything opened that day, so lots of terrain with not too many people:








Day #2 didn't have sun for long, lots of good snows and self refilling tracks, but poor viz, high winds, and very cold:


everyone made a run to the Wall when cornice didn't open at 09:00 when it was supposed to
everyone made a run to the Wall when cornice didn't open at 09:00 when it was supposed to











Day #3 was more difficult. Very cold too, snow storm most of the day, and kirkwood couldn't get stuff opened. They only opened 6 after a never ending 2H wait. The first tracks were nice, but open terrain was very limited.



2h wait to finally be allowed up a limited section of chair 6, that was disappointing
2h wait to finally be allowed up a limited section of chair 6, that was disappointing

very hard snow, no more pictures
very hard snow, no more pictures

After only 2H of skiing, and talking to Jennifer about the show we had that evening, I decided to try and get home after one of the two roads out finally re-opened. By leaving at 13:30, that would have been plenty of time, but sadly while driving down carson pass, I made a judgement mistake which combined with heavy regenerative braking kicking in in the middle of a slippery downhill turn, caused me to understeer and drive into a snow bank. It took over 1h30 to get out






a nice Audi with 3 awesome guys who helped me shovel out, was unable to pull me out
a nice Audi with 3 awesome guys who helped me shovel out, was unable to pull me out

Caltrans truck then slid into the audi and hit its front
Caltrans truck then slid into the audi and hit its front

snow plow slid off the road and got stuck, had to be towed out by caltrans scraper
snow plow slid off the road and got stuck, had to be towed out by caltrans scraper

finally the just arrived caltrans scraper had enough weight and torque to pull me out
finally the just arrived caltrans scraper had enough weight and torque to pull me out

The rest of the drive home was not fun, took me around 7.5h, includuing the 1.5h stuck in the snow bank. But that was nothing compared to the people driving up hwy 50 on a friday afternoon/night and who took hours and hours to get through the pass...

2018/03/03 5ft powder storm in Tahoe: Sierra @ Tahoe and Heavenly
π 2018-03-03 01:01 in Snow
After a horrible dry spell this year, Tahoe finally started getting a bit of snow. While 5ft in a storm sounds great, I got to find out that it was 5ft on top of almost nothing, so the tree runs were very treacherous. The amount of rocks and tree stumps, which ultimately isn't super safe. Also, the resorts were super packed, which is not surprising given that everyone had been waiting for real snow for so long.

Johannes was a trooper and offered to drive me to Tahoe, which was super great given that I had a concert on friday night and got to bed around 01:00. Sadly, my plan failed miserably and I slept past both my alarms for 05:00. Johannes was super nice and just waited for me to wake up (it's more complicated than this, but skipping details), and we ended up being on the road around 07:15. By then Carson Spur was still closed sadly (it only opened at 13:00, very late), so we ended up driving past Sierra @ Tahoe on hwy50 around 11:30 and figured it was already late enough that we might as well just go there. Sadly we didn't know the resort well and went to the famed West Bowl was actually kind of stupid because while it had plenty of snow, it was lacking slope. We later (too late) went to the main lift on the front side, and that gave much better terrain and pitch:



good enough for the day given that it was already 11:30
good enough for the day given that it was already 11:30




the tree runs I did were great, but honestly very technical, even for me
the tree runs I did were great, but honestly very technical, even for me

convertible RWD porsche without chains just after a snow storm, ballsy but well done
convertible RWD porsche without chains just after a snow storm, ballsy but well done

Since we were sleeping in South Lake, heavenly for day #2 was the easiest, but also I figured they'd have more untracked terrain than kirkwood, so we gave that a shot. Mott opened at 10:00 and I made the mistake of not being at the rope waiting for it to open, so I missed the first group down and it was half tracked for my first run. First line was about 30mn, second line was 40mn+. Yikes!




nice view as always
nice view as always

worst Mott line ever
worst Mott line ever

people lined up the hill :( it almost took as long to line up than to hike up
people lined up the hill :( it almost took as long to line up than to hike up




peek-a-boo
peek-a-boo

oh no, tree skiing is bad :)
oh no, tree skiing is bad :)


2018/02/14 5 days at Whistler
π 2018-02-14 01:01 in Snow
2 years ago, we had a pretty bad experience due to lack of communication on mountain conditions and what would open, or not.

Sadly, 2 years later, they still suck at communicating intent. They have mountain hosts that try to give you their best knowledge of the moutain (nice), but they don't have any info on what will open or not, or what is being worked on, or not. They have boards telling you what's open or closed, some of the boards were broken and showed everything open, while on our last day boards were showing 7th heaven closed while it was in fact open. More importantly, they are still not communicating any intent, as to whether something has a chance to open, whether they're working on opening something, or whether it's just not going to happen, due to wind, or otherwise.
And just to make things better, on the 2nd day, we were doing some great runs on 7th heaven, having lucked out with actual snow (almost 30cm) and a lift that was running (7th heaven), they closed it 2h early because of avalanche danger, for only 30cm of snow, they closed off an entire area, yet from what I could tell it was only a small portion of it that was under a possible avalanche path, and instead of closing the ropes that go the potentially unsafe area, they just closed off the entire (huge) area. Either that, or they just paniced because they got a foot of snow, and that's too much too handle? Either way, sigh...
The next day, due to high winds, they opened nothing worthwhile on their busiest day of the year, causing 30mn+ lines on the few bottom lifts that were running and people waiting in -30F temperatures. It is however possible that the wind truly prevented opening anything else, or maybe they didn't try that hard. Again, impossible to know if they had a good reason, since they don't communicate anything outside of "it's closed" and not even "don't bother, it won't open today", they'd rather that you spend hours on the slopes looking at a board to see if one red dot might turn green. Again, well done.
4th day, they finally re-opened some top lifts. Sadly, when we got to 7th heaven, all that magnificent powder had been compacted heavily and was quite hard to ride (it would tend to swallow your board whole and require a lot of effort, even on my powder board, to stay on top). In the meantime, symphony and harmony never opened, we don't know why, again they didn't say. As a result, that caused 25mn lines at 7th heaven and got it tracked to death instead of spreading the load.
Harmony and Symphony may open tomorrow, but I couldn't be bothered to stay an extra day with such poor communication, and effectively such little care of telling paying customers what's going on and why. Either way, the powder would likely have been ruined by then anyway, so not worth staying for.

All in all, it has potential to be a great mountain, but deals very badly with elements, there is a non trivial chance that they could try harder to keep lifts open, and could do infinitely better in communicating with their customers. What a shame...

Anyway, despite the unfortunate way the place is run, and despite not being able to reach a lot of good snow that fell, we still managed to enjoy some.

Day #1:

our place was ski in/ski out, access to Blackcomb just outside the hotel
our place was ski in/ski out, access to Blackcomb just outside the hotel

the resort has lots of boards with what's open and what's not, just no info on what won't open that day
the resort has lots of boards with what's open and what's not, just no info on what won't open that day




nice views from 7th heaven
nice views from 7th heaven


quite convenient getting across with peak 2 peak, just 15mn
quite convenient getting across with peak 2 peak, just 15mn


nice view from symphony
nice view from symphony


The village definitely has nice lighting:



Day #2: snow, thankfully many things stayed open for most of the day




symphony was nice but got crowded quickly
symphony was nice but got crowded quickly





after running out of stuff to do at symphony, we tried peak chair, Arturo enjoyed the way down :)
after running out of stuff to do at symphony, we tried peak chair, Arturo enjoyed the way down :)



my last ride down was through that double black entrance, not that bad afterall
my last ride down was through that double black entrance, not that bad afterall

rope tow back to peak 2 peak
rope tow back to peak 2 peak

we had a look at the peak to peak inwards
we had a look at the peak to peak inwards

and shabu shabu for dinnner
and shabu shabu for dinnner

Day #3: more snow, lots of it, this is where Whistler started panicing, because 30cm of snow is like "a lot" ?


our chair is going to be replaced by a gondola next year
our chair is going to be replaced by a gondola next year



we didn't take peak 2 peak, preferring 7th heaven as soon as it opened
we didn't take peak 2 peak, preferring 7th heaven as soon as it opened



we got there before everyone else did
we got there before everyone else did

and then, as we were actually having fun, they kicked us out of 7th heaven, it was a huge disappointment

Day #4: lots of snow that we couldn't get to, and very cold, as cold as -35C (-30F) due to wind chill


Whistler opened very little due to winds, and this gave ridiculous lines
Whistler opened very little due to winds, and this gave ridiculous lines

I ended up spending/wasting 3h in the cafe, waiting for top lifts to open (none did), and people to get cold and give up on the long lines
I ended up spending/wasting 3h in the cafe, waiting for top lifts to open (none did), and people to get cold and give up on the long lines


Arturo and I found some better than nothing tree runs until end of day where it got a bit warmer
Arturo and I found some better than nothing tree runs until end of day where it got a bit warmer

That evening, they had a fire and ice show:




Day #5: nice and sunny but still very cold (-20C). By then they finally re-opened some lifts, but the powder had been severely damaged and was unridable for Arturo and a fair effort to ride with my powder board. It would still easily dig the nose in and plow in.



Arturo got stuck in that hole 2 days prior due to it being invisible in bad weather
Arturo got stuck in that hole 2 days prior due to it being invisible in bad weather

left track was mine, looks nice, but very hard to ride
left track was mine, looks nice, but very hard to ride

before Whistler sucked again, they never opened harmony or symphony, causing huge lines at 7th heaven :(
before Whistler sucked again, they never opened harmony or symphony, causing huge lines at 7th heaven :(

lines got up to 30mn or so before people started giving up and left
lines got up to 30mn or so before people started giving up and left

by end of day, harmony and symphony, still closed :(
by end of day, harmony and symphony, still closed :(

so I went to the glacier for a lap, but snow wasn't that great by then
so I went to the glacier for a lap, but snow wasn't that great by then

I hiked all the way to the outside of the glacier, but it wasn't really worth it
I hiked all the way to the outside of the glacier, but it wasn't really worth it


So, I finished the day on Crystal chair which actually had good enough powder in the trees, until it was time to get back and get a bus to Vancouver.

For extra credit, the little grey jays that come where people eat, and come take handouts:




Anyway, that was it for Whistler. Fun to be with Arturo, great to enjoy the foot+ of snow we were able to access despite the totally inadequate communication from the resort, and the relatively little they actually opened while we were there.

See more images for 5 days at Whistler
2018/02/01 Sad snow day at Northstar
π 2018-02-01 01:01 in Snow
That was my first day in Tahoe in 2018. Normally february would be a great day, but instead it was a very sad very snow lacking day. Groomed trails were ok due to snow making, but anything outside of that was pretty terrible: grass and rocks.
But eh, it was a work outing, so it was all fun afer ski time, nice socializing with coworkers and game playing :)

the base looked ok
the base looked ok



nice views at least
nice views at least



riding on the back side
riding on the back side

outside of groomed trails, OMG
outside of groomed trails, OMG

Nice and sunny at least :)


See more images for Sad snow day at Northstar

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