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Colorado: Loveland fires up ridge-top snowcat tours

First session scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8

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A new ridge-top snowcat service will ease access to some of Lovelend’s best terrain.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After some trial runs last year, Loveland Ski Area says it’s ready to fire up its new snowcat ridge tours for full-time operation, offering skiers and snowboarders easier access to some of the tasty terrain along the Continental Divide, topping out around 13,000 feet.

Ski area reps said the first snowcat ridge run is tentatively slated for 10 a.m. Friday (Feb. 8), with all operations dependent on weather and snow conditions. Best of all, the cat service is free, although passengers will need to sign a waiver and obtain a special snowcat pass at the base area ticket office. Continue reading

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Colorado: Corn Harvest benefits avalanche center

Corn Harvest CAIC benefit, April 28. Be there!

Grassroots support helps sustain backcountry forecasting, education and outreach

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — OK, so it wasn’t the best year for backcountry skiing, not by a long shot. But despite the lack of snow, the forecasters at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center worked as hard as ever, trying to keep up with a treacherous snowpack that has claimed seven lives so far this season.

In fact, this winter’s weather pattern was downright weird.

“We saw some very unusual things … the structure of the snowpack that developed in October through December … it was so much more fragile than we typically see. You could walk  in one to two feet of snow and sink through to the ground,” CAIC director Ethan Greene said in a recent interview, describing the formation of a deep, thick layer of depth hoar that persisted most of the winter.

Now, with the season winding down, the CAIC staffers will gather at Loveland Ski Area this weekend (April 28) for the the 11th annual Corn Harvest, one of the most important grassroots fundraisers for the backcountry recreation forecasting program.

While the CAIC operates under the auspices of the Colorado Geological Survey and gets some funding via the state budget, the ongoing grassroots fundraising, driven by the Friends of CAIC, can’t be discounted. It’s a critical part of the budget that helps the center sustain outreach and education programs.

The Corn Harvest is a great chance to show your support and meet the avalanche experts in person, make a few turns and enjoy some tasty brews and the traditional apres ski raffle, once again with great prizes.

This year, $60 gets you all the goodies ($30 if you already have a pass or ticket) with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. in the upper level of the lodge. More info at cornharvest.org.

Colorado: October storm delivers powder

Some ski areas reporting nearly 2 feet of snow; A-Basin talking about opening Lenawee chair to the summit

A late October storm clears above the Meadow Creek wetlands in Frisco, with sunlight starting to light up the Continental Divide.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Loveland and Wolf Creek were the snowfall derby winners after a prodigious October storm cleared Colorado late Wednesday night, but ski areas around the high county reported good snowfall totals and cold nighttime temperatures that will help snowmaking crews do their job in preparation for the season.

Wolf Creek reported a 22-inch storm total and 68 inches for the season so far, and will re-open this weekend with three lifts operating, along with expert terrain in Montezuma and Step Bowls, Alberta Peak and Boundary Bowl to Prospector Ridge.

Loveland reported a 20-inch storm total, while Arapahoe Basin picked up 10 inches of fresh. Check out Al’s Blog at the A-Basin website for talk of Lenawee opening.

In Breckenridge, Wednesday’s snowfall brought the monthly total right up to the long-term average for the month, according to weather watcher Rick Bly, who was tallied 12.4 inches of snow in October. Based on records going back more than 100 years, the average monthly snowfall is 12.3 inches.

Continue reading

Skiing: Wolf Creek set to open for skiing and riding Oct. 8

Early storm, chilly temps generate some early ski industry buzz

An Oct. 6 storm dropped several inches of snow across much of the Colorado high country, with as much as a foot of snow reported in the southwestern mountains.

A skier samples the early season goods at Wolf Creek. PHOTO VIA TWITPIC.

SUMMIT COUNTY — After an early season storm pasted Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, the traditional race to open may be over before it ever really started.

Wolf Creek Ski Area announced it will open Saturday, Oct. 8 with three lifts operating, and several other resorts have fired up their snow guns. Follow Wolf Creek on Twitter for more news.

According to Colorado Ski Country USA, Wolf Creek picked up three feet of snow. Continue reading

Colorado: Avalanche center shifts to spring schedule

Click on the poster to get all the beta on the 2011 Corn Harvest.

17 avalanche deaths reported across the U.S. so far this season, six of them in Colorado

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After a busy winter, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has switched to spring operations and will issue an updated statewide avalanche bulletin Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon through the end of May. Weather forecasts will be issued daily through the end of April.

The CAIC also has an important late season fundraiser coming up — the April 30 Corn Harvest at Loveland. This year’s Corn Harvest once again is a chance to ski with some of the forecasters and show your support and appreciation for all they do to help keep us safe in the backcountry. Check out the Corn Harvest Facebook page, and check out Corn Harvest buzz at the Telemarktips Talk Forum.

With significant snow accumulations still piling up into late April this year, the forecasters are warning of some winter-like avalanche conditions at the higher elevations, with a “tricky and schizophrenic transition” to a mature spring snowpack well under way below tree line. Continue reading

Weatherblog: Widespread snow!

A National Weather Service graphic shows a stationary front draped parallel to the I-70 corridor.

Freshies on closing day at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The 2010 — 2011 ski season will end the way it began at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain, as much of the Colorado high country wakes up to  winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories. According to the National Weather Service, 5 to 10 inches of snow could pile up across some of the northern and central mountains by Sunday morning — great powder conditions on closing day.

Not all Colorado ski areas are closing down. A-Basin and Loveland remain open with the deepest snowpack of the season. A-Basin has picked up a few inches of new snow almost every day this week and Loveland reported passing the 500-inch mark for the season a few days ago. A-Basin reported 360 inches of snow for the season early last week and an 89-inch base as of Saturday morning.

Saturday’s snow is being fueled by a nearly stationary polar frontal zone that’s been wobbling north and south the past few days. A Pacific disturbance sliding eastward along the front will provide lift and intensify snowfall at the higher elevations throughout the day. Some areas could see periods of heavy snow, including a chance of thunder-snow. Yet another, and slightly stronger disturbance will move through Sunday, with a continued chance of snow. Under a generally southwest flow, the San Juans and West Elks could see the heaviest snowfall, with accumulations of 10 to 20 inches possible. Continue reading

Weatherblog: A few more powder days?

As a westerly flow set up across the West, a massive storm, with a hurricane-like eye over Missouri and Indiana, dominated the eastern U.S. The storm was fueled by subtropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and cold air from northern Canada.

Unsettled weather forecast for the next 3 to 5 days

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s not quite time to put away those boards just yet. After a fine, spring-like start to the weekend, forecast models are lining up to predict a stormy start to the coming work week, with the potential for some significant snow accumulation across the northern mountains of Colorado, especially starting Monday night.

A Pacific moisture plume was already spreading into the Colorado Rockies Friday evening, visible as thin, high elevation mare’s tail clouds. Those clouds will gradually increase and lower from the west under a nearly zonal flow. A few disturbances embedded in the flow could trigger some thunderstorms Saturday afternoon, especially as daytime heating increases convection. A better chance of showers Sunday, with more moisture in the atmosphere, but snow levels will remain high thanks to the warm air mass in place over the region. Continue reading

Morning photo: It’s piling up …

Winter comes to Colorado

Jenney Coberly captured this image of snow flakes sparkling in a cathedral of trees, perfect for a Sunday morning.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sometimes it comes in big waves; other times, it creeps in through the back door. Either way, it’s pure magic when Old Man Winter arrives to cast his crystalline spell over the hills and forests of the Colorado high country. More pics after the break … Continue reading

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