Something to talk about

I clicked onto my blog today and I swear I could hear crickets echoing in here.  It all comes down to the fact that this blog is just a way to express passions and interests.

As a snow lover in the winter mindset, if there is no snow, there’s no passion and no posts.

Frustration has been at an all time high here in Colorado as the state is at basically zero snow levels.  Another couple of weeks of this and I’m not sure I would make it to Christmas.

Butthurt on the rise in CO

In comes talk about the proverbial “pattern shift.”  This is some mystical thing that is supposed to bring massive amounts of snow to the state, but me, along with most other Coloradoans, will believe it when we see it.

Pattern Change?

Living vicariously through Mammoth mountain locals only lasts so long before that just gets depressing.  Let’s pray, dance and burn stuff to keep this “pattern change” coming!

Mammoth now... CO soon?

Mammoth now… CO soon?

First Day Out: Jones Pass/Butler Gulch

Watching the snow fly this last week, I had determined that I HAD to go get out and at least see it, feel it, touch it (yeah, it’s like that).  I decided to check out a new area and decided on the Jones Pass/Butler Gulch area.  Not knowing how much snow was really out there, I optimistically packed my splitboard in the car hoping against hope that there would be enough to slide on.
Well, pulling up to the trailhead was not promising:

Not too promising out of the gate at the Jones Pass TH

Almost immediately after leaving the trailhead though, things started to gradually improve into a skinable 4-6 inches on the trail.

Skinning in, things are improving

After climbing to about 11,000′ things got a bit deaper and I actually made a few (very cautious) light turns.

Splitboard and Tracks – Like Pees and Carrots

All in all, I was not optimistic that I would even be able to skin up there, but it turns out it was much better than I thought.  About 12-18″ more up there and it should open up quite a bit.

Snow + Me = Smiles

Shoulder Season: Storms, Snowmaking and Stoke

If your stoke meter is running around the green or blue level, just give it a few days, cuz things are starting to happen.

The stoke meter climeth

First, there is moisture heading our way from a cut off low pressure system that brought a couple inches to mammoth and is heading our way promising to drop a few inches on our local mountains.  It may be warm, wet stuff (snow levels starting around 10-11k then dropping to around 8k) but snow is snow especially when it makes a base.  [Of course, be careful what you wish for since Early Season Snow can be a curse]

Precipitation totals for the next 24 hrs… Green/Blue=Good

On top of that, Further, the snowboard film by TGR featuring Jeremy Jones premiers tonight in boulder at the Boulder Theater.  I have heard great reviews (except from the folks that are waiting for the DVD’s to ship) and going to see it in a premiere atmosphere should definitely help move that stoke meter needle.  If you need a little pick me up yourself, here is the tour schedule.  If you haven’t seen the trailer, you should:

Finally, while Loveland and A-Basin are waiting to announce their dates to open, it’s getting close as you can see here:

A Basin Blowing Snow on High Noon

Loveland Changing Colors

While we are talking snowmaking, and since I was curious about how it works myself, lets dive in and see why snowmaking isn’t quite as simple as just freezing water and blowing it on a slope.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start talking about snowmaking is this thing called the “wet bulb” temperature.  What the heck is a wet bulb and why do we even care?  Well, the wet bulb, in the simplest form, is a way to relate regular temperature and humidity in the air and gives an idea of what effects evaporation will have on temperatures of air or water vapor.

Believe it or not, snowmaking CAN occur at temperatures above freezing and it can sometimes NOT occur even below freezing.  So why don’t resorts just crank the guns up whenever they want… $ and limited resources (water supply).  Especially in this economy and after last years dismal season, efficiency is the name of the game.  Basically, the drier the air (low Relative Humidity) and the colder the temperatures the more efficient.

The Efficiency Chart for Snowmaking. Green=Good Yellow=Marginal Red=Go Biking

This is all based off of how snowmaking equipment functions.  There are varying types of snowmakers but in general, they work on the same principles and need the following:

Cold Ambient Temperatures:
The Colder outside the better, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be below freezing and even if it is below freezing it’s not always ideal.

Evaporation:
Some of the heat is lost through the evaporation of molecules on the surface of the water drops that can help the water reach freezing and solidify.  Think of how cold your skin gets if you rub a little alcohol on it (not that kind of alcohol).  This is where relative humidity and the wet bulb come into play.  The more dry the air is, the easier it is to evaporate and cool the water drops.

Surface Area:
The smaller they can make each water droplet come out of the nozzle the greater surface area is exposed to the cold air and evaporation process, therefore more of the water turns to snow.

Supercooling:
Yeah, snow is pretty supercool but what they mean here is that if you use a compressed gas (like compressed air) and let it rapidly expand, it cools the air around it and helps to cool the water droplets to freezing.

Nucleation:
Not like nuclear bomb radiation or anything.  Even with natural snow from the clouds, water needs stuff to cling onto in order to really make good snow.  They call these nucleation sites and sometimes additives are used to help make this happen.  Ever heard of Cloud Seeding?

So there you have it, now you can sound super smart when you and your buddies are riding the WROD and someone asks why the joint is or isn’t making snow.

Snowmaking at A Basin Last Weekend

It’s the Final Countdown…

First things first, push play on this and let it roll:

Okay, now we can get down to business.  It’s a little crazy, waking up this morning I could just feel that it had snowed in the mountains.  Something about the chill, the clouds, the humidity? I don’t know but I just had this feeling that I needed to go check the webcams and, sure enough, BAM! White up on top of A basin this morning:

Snow at the Base of A Basin 9/17

Now, I should warn you that there is no reason to get over excited about this little dusting (too late, I know).  This is because the weather outlook is not too promising for natural snow in the next week or so.  Basically, the forecast calls for a couple of shallow cold fronts to push by but not create too much weather.

“CHANCE OF ANY PRECIPITATION TUESDAY THROUGH NEXT SUNDAY IS VIRTUALLY NIL”   – NWS Weenies

So, here is the deal Nature: I’m going out of town this Friday and when I come back, I want full-on-winter snow dumpage… got it?

Saturday on Wednesday

As much as I want to, I can’t say that I am not liking this back to school business. Or at least the schedule part. Take today for example, one class in the morning and then an entire day open to do things that I wan’t to do. I didn’t skip out and make today a Saturday just because it happened to dump on the entire front range… well maybe, but it just so happens that Wednesdays are THE day that I could make that happen. I had kinda planned on going riding today at some point last week when storm tracks from coloradopowderforcast.com were still iffy. I was going either way… it just worked out.

The day started as any awesome day on the slopes should… waking up to a deck full of snow. About 6″ worth covering the BBQ made for an excellent omen of things to come. We drove on up testing out what constitutes “good” vs “bad” road conditions on I-70 and got there just around noon.

 

Snow was great but the terrain is still waaay limited since it’s still frickin October.  Working on editing some of the clips from today and last time, so should post that up soon.

Oh yeah, can’t have a good snowy day without some hot lodge food right?

Snow Goals 2011-12

Jess and I both tend to be pretty “goal-oriented” and not just with finances, careers and boring crap like that, but it also creeps into our recreational activities.  So with the first snow (YES I SAID SNOW… and yes that was in all caps) of the season and Wolf Creek opening up Saturday:

thoughts couldn’t help but turn to the upcoming Epic snow season.  As the first time I have had a season pass not to one resort but to up to FIVE, I need to get my act together and get a game plan for this season.

I started by looking at other people’s goals that they had made (and advertised) online.  Unfortunately, most of them were lame like “Yo brah, I want to steez out my BS 270 lipslide this year” or totally generic “get better” statements.  So I have to start from scratch here.  Here’s my first attempt at some goals for this season (probably change as I hopefully accomplish them and up the anty or think of new/better ones).

  1. Ride >50 days
  2. Ride >= 750k vertical feet this season
  3. Ride 50k vertical in one day
  4. Improve my fluidity and speed retention in powder (aka ride more pow!)
  5. Confidently ride all blacks and **Certain Double Blacks (TBD)  **Actual run names will be inserted once I scope some
  6. Be able to stomp natural drops >6′
  7. Prep for next season BC/this season Sidecountry (Take level I & get transceiver & Probes)
  8. Make >= 2 QUALITY edits /month (Improve video editing skills)
  9. Be able to ride switch on an entire blue run
  10. Solidify BS&FS 360 in park and on natural hits (need some FS skills to work on for the days when the snow is iffy)
  11. Get over the lip in the pipe on both walls (I’ve always wanted to do this but have never worked on it)

Alright, so that’s the first go at it.  Let me know your goals or maybe some good candidates for double blacks to put on my “hitlist” for this season.  How about this one?

Super Sick Setup

Well, it took months of stalking Steep & Cheap and REI during the off-season but Ryan and I managed to piece together almost entirely new setups before 2010/2011 snowboarding season! I have a super sick setup now – one that I don’t feel worthy of – and all my latest additions are brand-spankin’ new.

When the 2009 season ended, Ryan and I put together our Dream List for snowboarding gear. We printed out pictures of what we wanted and tacked it up on our 3’x5′ Dream Board. And before we knew it, our dream gear kept popping up! I feel awful for having Burton‘s top-of-the-line Feelgood ES board when I’m stuck on hard-packed groomers because PA never gets enough good snow to scout out any backcountry rides! But, the deals we got on these were just too good to pass up. From my Oakley Stockholm goggles for just $49 (reg $100) to my new $4.99 Giro helmet (reg $110 at the time) to my $16 Burton Lexa bindings from REI over the summer, I’ve got quite the Gucci gear for a Walmart price!

I knew I wanted gear that I wouldn’t even have to think of upgrading for atleast another 7 years so my strategy was to get classic, timeless-looking pieces. So, almost everything is either black or white in color.

My best upgrade? The Norrona bibs (sooo comfy!) and the Burton Supreme boots – warm toes make ALL the difference! I’m definitely glad Ryan and I had the foresight to shop off-season!