It’s safe to say that the majority of North American skiers and riders are looking at their snow tires and pow skis and wishing they spent the money on a mountain bike instead. After a freakish 2010-'11 winter that saw most of the US and Canada breaking snowfall records, it appears — for the time being — that the pendulum has swung the complete opposite direction. But that’s not the case everywhere. Fortunately the Northwest, Alaska, and Europe have been getting hammered. Here’s a look at four snowpacks that are over 100 inches deep right now.
Cody Townsend rips some Christmas powder at Alyeska Resort in Alaska. Photo by Charlie Renfro.
Alyeska Resort, Alaska - 109 inches
AK is famous for delivering the steep and deep. But that’s usually in April. Instead, AK has been a bright spot on the early-season radar, with the top of Alyeska sitting under a 109-inch base. Cody Townsend was there Christmas Week to get his faceshot fix with his newly-wed wife and Anchorage native Elyse Saugsted. The report? Blower. Everyday.
Mt. Baker has snow, 117 inches of it.
Mt. Baker, Washington - 117 inches
After picking up 857 inches last season, it looked like déjà vu for the locals when opening day in November saw the mountain flush with two feet of pow. While a lull of high pressure hit the region before Christmas, it appears that the snowtrain is back on the tracks. The top of Pan Dome is now counting a 117-inch base.
Lots of powder snow at Shames Mountain. Photo by Thomas Gould.
Shames Mountain, British Columbia - 130 inches
Well, BC has snow again. Should anyone be surprised? British Columbia seems to be as isolated from high-pressure systems as Iowa is from the foreclosure crisis, with the exception of the odd Pineapple Express. While much of the Northwest started off with a bang, the Canadians were the only ones who could keep the momentum going all the way through to the present. Shames Mountain, the quirky little co-op profiled this fall in Jordan Manley’s “A Skier’s Journey” webisode, is packing a hearty 130-inch base at mid-mountain these days. With the co-op looking for a new owner, the phrase “good timing” comes to mind.
Faceshots out the front door in St. Anton.
St. Anton Arlberg, Austria - 215 inches
If there is anyone who truly deserves to be happy with the way things are going this winter, it’s the Europeans. The past few seasons have been meager at best, with much of the region sitting high and dry. But now every schusser and fraulien is happily faceshotten on a regular basis, with over 15 resorts reporting a base deeper than 150 inches. Taking the cake? Austria’s St. Anton Arlberg, with a 215-inch base. That’s right – two hundred and fiteen inches. No typo. While many resorts across Europe are closing due to the extreme avalanche danger, when things calm down, there’s no doubt that conditions in the nicht praepariert (off-piste) will be all-time.