MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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January 2, 2014

Where's All The Good Snow?

Its funny how a little bit of planning can really pay off. Most things in our lives are rushed and I wonder how many of them would be vastly improved with just a little bit of planning. Dinners, meetings, phone calls, emails…you get the idea. Slowing down and thinking through whatever task is at hand could vastly improve our efficiency and satisfaction. I’d say this past weekend’s AIARE Level 1 course found this experience to be incredibly true. 

MM Guide Todd Bloxham shows the group some of the finer points of surface snow observations. Dallas Glass photo

We’ve all been there; we wake up late, grab a cup of coffee, throw the skis/boards in the car, drive off to the trailhead, start hiking up to our favorite area, make our first run, and wonder why it wasn’t as good as we thought it would be. “This snow stinks!” “Man it’s all icy!” “We should have just stayed in Seattle and played checkers!” Ok, so maybe we wouldn’t have played checkers, but you get the idea. With the epic lack of recent snow this season I find that many of my ski friends are disenchanted with the winter. They either can’t be convinced to leave the city, or if they do venture into the mountains they return complaining about the ski conditions. Now, I’ve been told that I’m overly optimistic about snow. I seem to be one of those sick individuals who thinks all snow is good snow and any day in the mountains is better than a day not in the mountains (no wonder I became a guide, huh?). That said I also find that with some planning and a little bit of discernment we can nearly always find good safe snow to slide on. 

Sunny weather? Check. Mountain views? Check. Fun day skiing and riding in the mountains? You bet! A little tour planning helps the group find the good snow. Dallas Glass photo

This weekend’s course was tasked with just such a challenge. Hmmm, let’s think about the recent weather. A week ago it rained to around 7,000 feet and then this past week freezing levels dropped. You don’t need to be a snow geek to realize, that means an icy snow surface. Then late Friday night 1-2 inches of snow fell at Mt. Rainier. Not nearly enough to keep my skis off the icy rain crust. Or is it? While our Level 1 courses focus on identifying and avoiding the avalanche problem, we also find that these same skills can help us find the good snow. So, with 1-2 inches of light snow on an icy crust, where is the good snow? The students spent a little time think through it, started making a plan, and then implemented the plan. Now, it wasn’t an epic ski day, but the students found some fun, playful, very enjoyable snow to travel in for the day.  With smiles on their faces, some nice smooth turns, and exciting views of Mt. Rainier we returned to our cars after a great day of skiing. 

I know what you’re thinking; so where did you find the good snow? I can’t give away their secret stashes now can I? I hope your New Year finds you out enjoying the mountains!

~ MM Guide Dallas Glass