Temperatures that approached summer-like warmth made for a most pleasant weekend and start to the week. Of course we knew it wouldn’t last, but it was sure a welcome winter reprieve for a few days. For the rest of the week and through the weekend expect pulses of stormy weather followed by brief upticks in the temperature with clear skies. It’s a rollercoaster, as is typical for mid-April. Snow will fall about every other day in the high country, but amounts should be modest. No big dumps are in the forecast.
Even with snow in the forecast, the downhill skiing and snowboarding season is coming to a close at many ski resorts in the region. One of those is the Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area. Their last day is Sunday with tickets still available for this final week of skiing. There’s excellent coverage on the slopes with a base still in triple digits at 101 inches.
It’s also the final weekend for Grand Targhee, on the west side of Teton Pass. After nearly a week of blue skis, new snow arrived yesterday with more coming off and on as they close out the season. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will also close their lifts after this weekend while reporting a base of 88 inches. They’ll also end the season with plenty of snow still on the slopes.
Sunshine ruled this past week at Steamboat, with no new snow reported in the last five days and only 3 inches in the forecast for the next five days. This is their final weekend for a season that had a stutter start, with snow depths remaining below normal all season.
The lifts run until April 25 at Winter Park, but their Mary Jane property continues operation through May 9. Snow depths have been slightly below average this season at the resort, but they continue with a 71-inch base and 138 of their 168 runs still open.
All that sunshine this last week created definite spring conditions in the Medicine Bow Mountains. The snowpack is at 106% of normal, a 7% decrease since last week. At Keystone, near Rob Roy Reservoir, there have been a total of 232 inches of snow so far this season according to Don Day Jr. at www.dayweather.com. This is the same as last week, and less than the 250 inches reported by this time last year.
Expect bouts of snow on through the weekend “up top” in the Snowy Range. New snow amounts will be modest with breezy conditions.
Personnel at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center report the avalanche danger for the southern Wyoming and northern Colorado mountains is rated “moderate” at all elevations. Keep an eye on wet snow conditions that can become unstable. Lower elevations and slopes with an hour or two of direct sunshine are the most problematic. Cooler air and cloud cover help alleviate the concerns. Watch out for rollerballs or other surface anomalies that are good indicators the surface snow is losing cohesion.
There are no recent reports from backcountry skiers heading out from the Green Rock Trailhead off of Highway 130, but expect very good spring conditions. Crust in the mornings, turning slushy as the day progresses is likely except when cloud cover keeps conditions cool.
There is still decent snow cover on the Barber Lake Trail and at the lower elevation trails at Corner Mountain. These trails are user-packed with no grooming.
There’s very good coverage on the trails at Chimney Park, off of Highway 230 with a 28-inch base. The Woods Creek Loop tends to get the most use, making it rather rough in the mornings when the snow freezes in place after use the previous afternoon. As it softens, and before turning slushy, conditions can be quite pleasant, especially when skiing the trials farther from the trailhead that get less traffic.
The warm, even hot, weather this past week took a toll on the Nordic ski trails at Happy Jack Recreation Area. Grooming continues, though, with good coverage on most of the mid- and upper-level trails. Grooming ended on the Summit Trail due to some bare patches prohibiting the passage of the grooming equipment. Ridge, Haunted Forest and Gobi trials could meet a similar fate in the next couple days.
There are no recent reports of grooming on the multi-use trails. Expect icy conditions on the lower trails, especially when heading out from the Happy Jack Trailhead, but decent conditions are likely in the trees where the sunshine has less of an impact. For those looking ahead, these trails will not be suitable for regular mountain bikes for quite some time. Getting on them too early only creates trail erosion problems, so be patient and go elsewhere until the trails clear, which can be at least a month off yet.
The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service snow measuring stations report 51 inches of snow at Cinnabar Park, a 10-inch decrease from last week. The station at Brooklyn Lake reports 64 inches of snow, a 10-inch decrease from last week. On the north end of the range, the station at Sand Lake shows 83 inches of snow, a decrease of 12 inches from a week ago. The station at Medicine Bow, at an elevation of 10,500 feet, reports 93 inches of snow, a decrease of 12 inches from last week. The station at North French Creek, on the west side of the Medicine Bow Mountains, reports 71 inches of snow, a decrease of 11 inches from last week. The Crow Creek station on Pole Mountain shows 14 inches of snow, a decrease of 7 inches from last week.
Pole Mountain/Happy Jack Recreation Area Nordic ski trails: Spring conditions with crusty and icy surfaces early, but softening as the day progresses. Daily grooming continues on most trails.
Pole Mountain Multi-Use Trails: Expect spring conditions with hard crust and icy conditions to start the day, turning soft and mushy by mid-morning.
Chimney Park Nordic ski trails: Spring conditions, but with good coverage on the trails. High use trails near the trailhead are rough to start the day. Routes are user-packed.
Snowy Range backcountry conditions: Expect outstanding crust skiing early in the day. Likely turning soft and slushy except when there’s good cloud cover.
Snowy Range: Expect spring conditions with slick surfaces early in the day, turning soft and slushy as the day warms.
Wyoming Downhill Areas
Snowy Range Ski Area: 101-inch base; 4 lifts, 33 runs and 100% of terrain open.
Grand Targhee: 97-inch base; 5 lifts, 95 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Hogadon: No report on base; 2 lifts, 28 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: 88-inch base; 13 lifts, 112 trails and 84% of terrain open.
Sleeping Giant: Closed for the season.
Snow King: Closed for the season.
Colorado Downhill Areas
Arapahoe Basin: 53-inch base; 9 lifts, 144 trails and 99% of terrain open.
Breckenridge: 56-inch base; 32 lifts, 178 trails and 95% of terrain open.
Copper Mountain: 49-inch base; 22 lifts, 127 trails and 80% of terrain open.
Eldora: 55-inch base; 10 lifts, 65 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Keystone: 50-inch base; 15 lifts, 116 trails and 90% of terrain open.
Loveland: 55-inch base; 7 lifts, 84 trails and 89% of terrain open.
Steamboat: 66-inch base; 14 lifts, 169 trails and 98% of terrain open.
Vail: 48-inch base; 17 lifts, 133 trails and 68% of terrain open.
Winter Park: 73-inch base; 21 lifts, 138 trails and 82% of terrain open.