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Skiing: Kirkwood launches snowcat tours for the season

Out-of-bounds treks focus on backcountry education

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Kirkwood guests experience some sweet Sierra backcountry with a snowcat tour. Photo courtesy Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After picking up more than 260 inches of snow this season, Kirkwood Mountain Resort says its ready to launch its out-of-bounds cat-skiing trips for the late winter and spring season, with E:K Cat Tours taking advanced skiers and riders on an adventure to hunt down fresh turns with a focus on backcountry education and safety.

“Expedition:Kirkwood is the West Coast’s largest avalanche awareness and backcountry certification program, but what we’re really known for are the cat tours,” said Casey Blann, Kirkwood’s general manager. “This program is for the advanced skiers and riders who are looking for a completely unique resort experience. Not only gaining the skills for skiing and riding steep terrain, but hang on as your cat operator navigates his way up a road that’s not for the faint of heart.” Continue reading

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Morning photo: Colorado skiing

World class!

Powder at A-Basin! PHOTO COURTESY CSCUSA/A-BASIN.

SUMMIT COUNTY — After a slow start to the season, snow is piling up in Colorado, where many ski areas have seen up 3 feet of snow fall in the past week or so. Vail, for example, is reporting 28 inches in the past seven days. Copper Mountain reported 26 inches in that same span and has picked up 4 feet of snow in January, with 101 inches of snow for the season. Get the full CSCUSA snow report here. Continue reading

Photoblog: Prowling with powder cats at Monarch

Fresh tracks

Summit County skier and musician Leon Littlebird finds a deep pocket of fluff at Monarch Mountain on the first day of spring.

SUMMIT COUNTY — My thighs are still burning, but my fingers seem to be working OK after a powder day in the glades, bowls and chutes of the snowcat-served backcountry at Monarch Mountain, where about 6 inches of snow piled up before sunrise on the first day of spring. Monarch Snowcat Tours continue through April 10, conditions permitting, and late season often brings some great powder atop a solid base. There are a few openings left for the last couple of weeks of the season; you can check availability by looking at the online calendar. Otherwise, start making your plans for next year. Continue reading

Morning photo: A-Basin freshies

Who needs the Super Bowl when you’ve got ‘Zuma Bowl?

A young Summit County skier launches off a rock near the top of A-Basin's Pali Chair.

SUMMIT COUNTY — My son and I have enjoyed some of our best days on the slopes on so-called Super Sunday. As hordes of skiers hunker down in front of television sets to enjoy the big game, the ski areas tend to empty out, and yesterday was no exception. We found a parking spot right on the beach at A-Basin and set out to enjoy the soft snow, skiing until the lifts closed. Continue reading

Weatherblog: Powder day!

Wilderness Sports sponsors the Summit Voice weatherblog. Click to visit Wilderness Sports online.

La Niña prevails with moist northwest flow; 10 inches new at A-Basin, 9 inches at Copper and 12 inches at Loveland. Go get some.

Snow through Tuesday, then another Arctic blast.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An undulating firehouse of moisture out of the northwest will shift a bit to the east on Sunday, allowing for a temporary lull in snowfall. Forecasters with the National Weather Service Grand Junction said they don’t expect the snow to stop completely, but the heaviest precipitation during the day will likely be confined to the higher peaks and northwest facing slopes.

Saturday snowfall totals included 10 inches at A-Basin, 9 inches at Copper, 12 inches at Loveland, 11 inches at Eldora, 7 inches at Steamboat and 8 inches at Winter Park.

Another small vort max (area of intensified atmospheric turbulence) could roll through Sunday night after midnight to increase snowfall rates, followed by another lull late Monday. But by late Monday afternoon, another Arctic cold front will begin nosing into the area, bringing another round of heavier snowfall and a shot of cold air. It’s not going to get as cold as it was last week, but expect Tuesday’s highs to reach only into the teens. Wednesday could be a single-digit day, and lows the middle of next week will once again plunge well below zero. Continue reading

Arapahoe Basin gearing up for busy spring season

A-Basin hasn't seen the big dumps this season, but steady snowfall the past few weeks has enable the area to open much of the classic Alpine terrain served by the Pali chair, including Turbo, which is skiing as well as in a big snow year right now. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Ski patrol blasting East Wall; rail jams, moonlight dinners, concerts and endurance events mark the ski area’s  spring schedule

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — While sunny weather and the approaching equinox suggest spring, Arapahoe Basin is still in mid-ski season mode, as ski patrollers spent the past few days getting ready to open parts of the East Wall by blasting avalanches on the steep, rocky face.

Ski area officials said they may try to open the East Wall traverse late in the weekend or early next week. This Saturday, March 13, A-Basin hosts a free rail jam. Upcoming events include a full moon dinner on March 27 at the Black Mountain Lodge, the popular Easter egg hunt on the “Beach” (April 4), the Save our Snow fund raiser for the High Country Conservation Center (April 10) and the classic Enduro on April 14. Get the full schedule of A-Basin events here.

A-Basin chief Alan Henceroth isn’t making any promises, but in his latest blog post, he suggests the ski area is just about ready for some East Wall action. See some ski and avalanche control pictures after the break. Click on the images for a larger view. Continue reading

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