Snowforecast.com had predicted up to 26 inches at heavenly and up to 30 inches at kirkwood. Arturo and I decided we had to go check it out, but due to past bad experiences with Carson Spur closing during big storms and making it hard to reach Kirkwood, we went for South Lake Tahoe.
Turns out the storm was late and we could actualy have driven to Kirkwood that evening. Bummer...
The next morning, Heavenly reported 18 inches and kirkwood 20 to 24 inches. We figured 18 inches was good enough and we'd be better off skiing the trees at Heavenly than fighting the crowds that were likely to have gone to Kirkwood.
Well, Heavenly was ok but not great or epic unfortunately. The asshole who reported 18 inches probably also told his wife that he was 18 inches... Maybe they put the dipstick sideways at Mott Canyon.
yes, we're going to ride this today :)
In some places under Sky Express, it felt like 6-10 inches with ice under and in others it was maybe a foot.
On one of my first runs, I rode a very big rock, and it put a pretty deep and wide gash in my board. Riding flat sections after that sucked ass due to drag:
Doesn't look like much, but slowed me down a *lot*
The first 2 runs in Mott were pretty nice but not stellar. It was a good day, but disappointing compared to what it could have done in other places like Kirkwood. Bummer...
Waiting for the gate
Mott got tracked out after one run. IT also didn't look so deep
At least the view was nice
First run down Mott, gold run style:
Nice little run with Arturo down Aries Woods:
At least Heavenly had the nice views going for itself still:
The day wasn't bad, but it just wasn't anywhere close to epic, which was a bit disappointing. Oh well...
Here are the snow days stats for Our Day At Heavenly.
in Flying, Nflying, Nsnow, Snow
We had a nice early spring weekend coming up and while I was pissed off for not being at kirkwood enjoying the fresh powder last weekend, I made plans for flying to Mammoth this weekend.
I owed Arturo a flight there since he had never gone, so that was a good time to make good on my promise, and thankfully he was able to come that weekend, so it was a plan.
plane was quite loaded, getting the snowboards in was 'fun' :)
The conditions at Mammoth were typical spring: a mix of icy, corn, and slush. The second day was actually pretty icy due to some pretty strong winds which kept the temperatures low and prevented much the ice from melting.
Honestly, the conditions weren't great and Mammoth would totally rock on a powder day. It's however unlikely that I could fly there just around a storm without getting stuck there, but I plan to try one day :)
Anyway, Arturo had a great time discovering Mammoth with snow, and as a piece of advise don't play the "name this peak" game with him: you will lose flat out :)
We covered most of the mountain, except some really boring/icy parts (although we did do some other very icy parts too :) ).
All pictures are georeferrenced. You can just click on them to see their location on a map.
nice view, but a sucky icy ride down
Cloud 9 Express was shut down but we got on top of it
Here are the snow days stats for Day1 and Day2.
Here are a couple of runs off chair 23:
The flight back was interesting: we had 50mph winds on the peak of Mammoth and wind was due east, which meant potentially sizeable mountain waves over the Sierras and we were on the wrong side of them (mountain waves can smack your plane down much faster than you can fly out of them).
Mountain Waves, how to recognize and deal with them are subjects of entire books, but on that day they were hard to see due to low moisture (no clouds to give clues) and the wind was strong enough that they could potentially cause up and downdrafts of 1000fpm or more (note that in our case we were flying against the wind, which is much harder).
Anyway, I called the FSS folks (flight weather forecast), and watched a few planes crossing the Sierras without being smacked on the ground, so I felt confident enough to go up and try crossing back to go home (with a backup plan of coming back if things looked bad).
We first headed north towards Mono lake for a scenic flight and so that we could come back via Yosemite and lose the "name the peak" game with Arturo :)
I was able to pick up some nice updrafts from the mountain wave while flying up hwy 395 and with 15,000ft of altitude in the bank, it felt reasonable to start crossing. I basically was pitched up flying at 90kts and the downdraft was gentle enough that it allowed us to mostly maintain altitude (it would go up and down 500ft, which was reasonable).
The flight back made for some nice pictures:
the nice crater by mono lake, much nicer as seen from the sky
lenticular/rotor cloud visible on the leeward side of Tahoe
not quite maintaining altitude with a good pitch up and 45kt headwind
Despite the strong headwind over the Sierras and the scenic detour, the flight was 1h45. It was quite nice to be on my couch, stuff unpacked, having dinner and looking at my pictures a mere 3 hours after we left the slopes.
Day 1 was disappointing. There were 12 to 18 inches of fresh snow and because of poor organization and a stupid bus driver that needlessly stopped us in Auburn for almost 30mn, by the time we got to Squaw there was actually a traffic jam and it took 45mn to drive from hwy 80 to the Squaw entrance (a mere few miles).
It was already 10:30 by the time I made it to the first lift and by the time I got to the top, most powder had been well tracked out by hordes of local who had come that morning. Fairly disappointing :(
The snow was till good, but I sure wasn't swimming in powder like I was hoping. Later that day, the sun got overcast and the melted powder started icing up. Very sad... (and due to the fact that Squaw is way too low altitude-wise).
nice and sunny in the morning, melted the powder
even the back was pretty skied out
Track for Day 1
The next day, I just used to explore the edges of Squaw had had not gone to, espespecially as the main front sucks anyway since you're funneled back to a bunch of flat sections.
Riding Silverado was interesting: the terrain was very challenging since it was easy to get cliffed out and ski patrol didn't go out of their way to mark that side of the mountain. There lots of spots with slopes beyond 60 degrees but leading down to a mixture of ice and rocks :-/ A couple of times I ended up in a not so good spot and had to carefully get out of it.
Thankfully the snow did not ice up on the second day and I got to see most of the edges of Squaw. The one lowpoint was that the bolt holding the back plate of my NXT flow binding came out again, and I wasted close to 45mn doing a field repair. Thankfully I actually had the right tools and a set of the very special screws and bolts required (so I'm not carrying that heavy backpack for nothing :) ).
I took the line down between the gondola and cable car. A bit low on snow, but more scenic and different