Powderwatch Snow Conditions http://www.powderwatch.com It's Snow Time! Sat, 24 Jan 2015 04:01:36 +0000 en hourly 1 The Horror… The Horror… http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-horror-the-horror/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-horror-the-horror/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:27:06 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=696 Sometimes when you’re skiing you get in over your head and find yourself crapping your pants on a piste that will likely end your life or cause certain injury – like the one that dude is skiing in the post header.  It’s a shot from Whistler, maybe Sudan Couloir?  I’m sure everyone has found themselves in that situation at least once or twice.  There was a time when I almost skied off a cliff heading through some trees on our way over to Harmony Bowl at Whistler.  I turned hard and grabbed the last tree before the precipice that was only about 6 feet away.  Another time I took my wife down a run at Revelstoke that had a nasty cliff.  She was gripped when she saw the ‘Cliff’ warning sign and I tried to calm her fears by saying if it was a big cliff they’d have it roped off instead of a tiny little sign.  I insisted it was probably just a little drop.  Well I was wrong and anyone one skiing off that cliff would likely be air lifted off the mountain.  To add insult to injury… when I finally coaxed her down a safe route the run spit us out on ‘Kill The Banker’ – way above her skill level.

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Last week I experienced what I consider one of life’s little cliffs and I’m still working my way down the safe route.  The whole experience has left me feeling very small and vulnerable in a way very similar to when I’m skiing across a big avalanche slope.  It’s quite amazing what life can throw at you sometimes to test your strength.  Now I’m not saying any of the events I’m about to describe were beyond ‘nuisance’ level but the sheer coincidental nature of them makes me wonder how you can sometimes attract negative incidents like an electro-magnet.

Groomers at Jackson Hole - the horror!

Groomers at Jackson Hole – the horror!

It all began with a personal conversation with a very dear friend that was the kind that nobody wants to have.  I was accused of having too much negativity regarding his life situation.  Of course I was being negative, but I thought I was providing him with a warning and some advice that would help him out of a difficult life situation of his own.  That conversation was disturbing enough on its own.  Then in the middle of the night a pipe burst in our bathroom and flooded the second floor.  It was extremely lucky that it happened while we were there but there was still hardwood floor damage and drywall damage to the living room ceiling.  That same night our pup, Rio, started to vomit.  This continued in the morning until we rushed him to the vet hospital.  They fixed him up but it was expensive to say the least.  Other minor calamities that occurred in the days that followed:  breaking a key off in the lock to our garage, losing a half day’s worth of work due to a word document crash, and the Ryder Report blog database disappearing.  I’m still in the process of repairing the Ryder Report and I sincerely hope I didn’t lose any of his posts.  But in my panic I also corrupted my main Powderwatch blog and I’m having to rebuild it – hence the missing images that you may have noticed.

All the things I described have been dealt with or are in a state of repair, including this website.  Please bear with me though.  I have friends visiting from Ontario this weekend so it may not be until next week before I get everything back to where it was.

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Ski Whitewater – Pride and Joy of the Kootenays http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/ski-whitewater-pride-and-joy-of-the-kootenays/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/ski-whitewater-pride-and-joy-of-the-kootenays/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 03:59:18 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=680 I haven’t been posting many videos this season (none actually) because it can bit a bit tedious watching a whole bunch of bad videos before stumbling across a real gem.  But I had a bit of time to kill tonight and I think I found a few good ones for you.  My focus is one Whitewater tonight because they always have great powder days and they had 42 cms in on Jan 5/6.  A couple powder days will usually result in a few Go Pro videos popping up in Youtube or Vimeo.

Let’s start with this video from Jamie Perchie.  Sweet, sweet powder!  I’m a little jealous because it’s been a few years since I had a day like that.  They are few and far between – for me anyway.
Winter Break from Jamie Perchie on Vimeo.

Next I have a more polished and professional piece from North Cascade Productions.  This was posted one month ago.  Did they really have snow like that in early December?

Whitewater from North Cascade Productions on Vimeo.

And for a bit of fun I’m going to drag up a video I posted back in October of 2013.  It’s a segment from Sweet Grass Production’s ‘Valhalla’ movie.  If you’ve never tried diving naked into the snow then you probably don’t have a true appreciation for just how cold it would be to crash in deep powder without any space age fibres between you and the white stuff.

Naked Ski and Snowboard Segment from VALHALLA from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

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Cold Weather Skiing http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/cold-weather-skiing/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/cold-weather-skiing/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 02:49:18 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=673 We had some good snow in the mountains this week and I had several people asking me if I booked a day off work to get some pow pow.  But to be honest the thought never crossed my mind.  The 24hr snow report didn’t crack the 20cm mark at Louise or Sunshine and that’s just not enough for me to take a snow day.  However, after looking at some of the shots posted earlier this week I was wishing I’d braved the cold weather. Screenshot 2015-01-11 19.15.43

We were visiting friends in Canmore last weekend and on Saturday it was -25C.  It would’ve been a great opportunity to head up to Louise and cut an hour off the drive from Calgary but I’m sorry, that’s just too cold.  I’m not a cold weather wimp either.  On Saturday morning we had coffee on the patio at The Good Earth coffee shop because dogs aren’t allowed inside.  On Sunday, we took Rio for a 2 hour walk in -18C.

I can dress for the cold such that I’m perfectly comfortable in a frigid -25C.  But when I’m trying to ski in that kind of weather I just can’t escape the following sources of discomfort:

1. my toes freeze.  This is the most painful problem I have.  Even on a good day my toes are frozen by lunch and when it’s hyper cold I’m toast after about three runs.

2. my face gets frost bite.  It’s hard to cover up every inch of skin on your face – especially the nose.  I have a tube but it’s hard to completely cover the nose.  Tucking the tube into your goggles helps but then wind sneaks in around the eyes.  And I hate the wet soggy tube that develops.

3. I freeze on the chair.  Todays high speed chairs move pretty fast to begin with and at the top of the mountain it’s pretty rare when there isn’t a stiff wind blowing.  Sitting immobile while wind sucks the heat from your body is excruciating.  I usually attempt to get into the fetal position but this is difficult with the safety bar in the way.

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That said, I have a few tips for venturing out in extreme conditions.

1. wear your puffy down jacket – the big one, 800 fill.  Yes, you will look wimpy but you’ll be a lot warmer.  I also wear a down sweater underneath and a sweater if it’s really cold.  You can look stylin’ in the spring.

Screenshot 2015-01-11 19.36.01

2. wear snow pants.  I have a heavy pair of polar fleece snow pants with a nylon wind break material on the front.  These are the cats ass.  I’ll wear long johns, a light wind pant and my snow pants.  I’m amazed at how much of a difference it makes to keep your legs warm.

3. snowboard.  Hard plastic boots are kinda ridiculous when it comes to keeping your toes warm.  Having no air circulation is also pretty dumb.  There a reason Sorell’s -30C boots are big, floppy, and have zero plastic.  Snow board boots are just way better.  

4. big down oven mitts.  I have one pair of ridiculously fat down mitts that I picked up at MEC one year.  When I’m wearing those babies my fingers don’t get cold – ever.  Forget gloves when it’s that cold.  They just don’t work.

5. wear a toque.  I have a helmet that adjusts enough to allow me to wear my fleece line nordic nerd hat.  On a frigid day those thin ninja caps just don’t cut it.  I don’t like a super warm helmet because on most days I don’t need it.  So rather than have two helmets I have one that adjusts big enough to squeeze in my favourite toque.Screenshot 2015-01-11 19.46.55

6. wear a tube or scarf.  No explanation required.  You just have to cover up the skin on your face.  A balaclava is probably the best idea but I hate those things.  I just find them really uncomfortable and the mouth hole gets disgusting.

That’s it.  If you have the gear you can ski in pretty much the coldest weather Mother Nature can throw at you.


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Happy New Year from PW! http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/happy-new-year-from-pw/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/happy-new-year-from-pw/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 00:34:20 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=662 Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2015.  I hope everyone out there has at least one epic powder day this season.  But to date we aren’t having one of our better snow years so far.   Does that really matter?  There are so many ways to have winter fun in the mountains and ripping up some hero snow is just one of them – admittedly one of the better ways to have fun :-)

Screenshot 2015-01-01 16.38.15Apres ski is often every bit as fun as enjoying fresh air and exercise on the mountain.  In fact, some of the best Apres Ski I’ve experienced has been after an amazing snow day.  There’s so much excitement in the lodge that the place is just humming.  I’m thinking of the Griz Bar at Fernie where I’ve consumed many a pitcher listening to great music and shouting about the days exploits amongst close friends.  The Valley of the 10 Peaks lodge at Lake Louise has also provided some great memories but there does seem to be something magical about the energy level when I’m at Fernie.

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Spending Christmas and/or New Year’s Eve at a ski resort is also something you need to do at least once in your life.  For me, family and friends always come first this time of year which precludes running of to a resort of any kind.  But my dream would be to some day rent a big chalet and get everyone together for a ski vacation over Christmas.  Many years ago my wife’s family arranged Christmas in Chamonix and it’s one that I’ll never forget.   There wasn’t a ton of snow but the skiing was still fun and the dining was absolutely awesome!

Fireworks at  Squaw Valley

Fireworks at Squaw Valley

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Sunrise at Kicking Horse Resort

Now if I had my choice of any resort in Canada to spend my Christmas vacation, the top two would be Whistler and Le Massif.  Whistler is an obvious choice because of the incredible variety of terrain between Whistler and Blackcomb but the village get’s two thumbs up for nightlife and dining opportunities.  Le Massif get’s my pick because of the charm and coziness of the resort.  There is also the possibility of some awesome pow pow and amazing Quebec cuisine is guaranteed.  You also can’t beat the night life.  Sorry Whistler but Quebecers really know how to party.

Since I live in Calgary, Whistler and Le Massif are rather expensive options.  Ditto for US destinations, although I dream of a ski vacation in Utah, Wyoming, or Colorado.  The more affordable Christmas ski vacation would lie closer to home and that puts Fernie and Kicking Horse at the top of my list.  Both places offer rentals of large ski Chalets right at the base of the ski area. Fernie has the added benefit of a reasonable drive into town to provide some better dining options.  Staying in Banff or Canmore would provide a lot better night life and options for shopping, pubs and restaurants but I prefer the feeling of staying right on the mountain.  We do that every year at Big White and we have enough fun with our friends that we don’t really need any night life.  And not having to drive anywhere for a week really adds to the relaxation quotient!



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Ho Ho SNOW! http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/ho-ho-snow/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/ho-ho-snow/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 17:57:33 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=654 Just one day to Christmas and Santa has come through with the snow we’ve all been wishing for.  Lake Louise receives 20cms and Sunshine has 10cms.  I skied Sunshine on Sunday (see Cdn Rockies Outlook for details) and the 5 to 10cms they had in the morning was enough to make the riding lovely.  But the 20cms at Louise will be a whole lot of fun!  For the next couple of days you can expect hardly any crowds so got get some pow if you have all your shopping done!

Kicking Horse also has 17cms in the last 24hrs.  This was a shot from yesterday – the pow pow will be even better today!Screenshot 2014-12-24 10.46.10
But Fernie’s powder alert really has me stoked, with 29cms of freshly fallen snow.  If you’re looking for a white Christmas, look no further.  I’m planning to get up to the mountains as soon as possible to enjoy the magical wonderland that we’re so lucky to have as our back yard.  Skiing would be nice but even snow shoeing or just taking a drive into K country would be a great way to enjoy the beauty.  But Fernie would be my go to spot for fun and excitement.

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Californie Is The Place You Oughta Be http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/californie-is-the-place-you-oughta-be/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/californie-is-the-place-you-oughta-be/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 20:21:06 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=647 If you can complete the next line then congratulations… you’re old.  I bet you can quote lines from Bugs Bunny too.  But young and old, we can all get excited about what’s going on in California.  It’s been nearly a week since a powder alert came in on my app so it was quite a relief to see 25cms at Squaw Valley and 30cms at Kirkwood.  Squaw Valley has had nearly 100cms for the week!!  All the resorts around Lake Tahoe must be really sweet right now.Screenshot 2014-12-20 13.04.28

I posted a great shot from Vail on the powderwatch facebook page last week – at the time they were getting major snowfall.  They only have about 10cms in the last 2 days but they just posted this killer shot.  My guess is that someone took it last.  It still rocks though.


Now in the Canadian Rockies we really haven’t had anything big to get excited about for a couple weeks now.  But this photo submitted from Fernie this morning has my adrenalin kicking it up a notch.  They’re reporting 12cms of fresh snow today – that’s actually pretty good considering how dry it’s been this week.Screenshot 2014-12-20 12.29.44

Judging by the webcam images it’s still snowing a bit right now.  That will keep the surface fresh for tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I won’t be driving down there any time soon.  But if you make it to Snow Valley we’d love to hear from you or have you share a few of your pics with us.  Your input is so much more fun and informative than a web cam shot.Screenshot 2014-12-20 13.06.45

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Kicking Horse Powder Alert http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/kicking-horse-powder-alert/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/kicking-horse-powder-alert/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:07:14 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=641 Today Kicking Horse is fully open for the season and they’re starting it off with a powder alert!  It will be awesome today because they have a ton of snow in the last 2 days and the mountain was closed yesterday.

Screenshot 2014-12-12 08.46.33Kicking Horse is my favourite resort for weekend ski trips.  For a day trip my go to mountain is Lake Louise but sometimes the snow at Sunshine is just too god to pass up.  But for a weekend getaway my best locations are Fernie and Kicking Horse.  In terms of skiing I give a slight edge to Fernie because I love Polar Peak when conditions are good.  But the bowls and steep chutes at Kicking Horse are pretty great too.  Kicking Horse is my best buddy though because we always stay on hill there.  This makes the weekend that much more enjoyable.  When we go to Fernie we usually go for the less expensive accommodations in town (and the better bars and restaurants) an that just isn’t quite as sweet as skiing to your room or condo.

Screenshot 2014-12-12 08.51.02I also find the vibe at Kicking Horse a little more laid back and fun.  It’s typically less busy there except for a powder day when the Gondola gets overwhelmed and the line up grows to insane proportions.  Today might be one of those days but being early season and close to Christmas the crowds might be held to a reasonable level.  Nevertheless the skiing will be fantastic and that’s why we tolerate the wait to get back up for another amazing run.  Enjoy today and I wish I was there with you!

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Playing Catch Up On Revelstoke http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/playing-catch-up-on-revelstoke/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/playing-catch-up-on-revelstoke/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 04:34:31 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=634 I just spent the last hour hanging Christmas lights in the dark – up on a ladder leaning precariously to one side with the feet anchored in about 8cms of slushy corn snow.  Glad to be alive!  Now I have a moment of pure relaxation for the first time in over a week and I’ll use this time to get caught up on my powder watchin’.  Let’s get caught up with Revelstoke as they’re open for the season and have had almost 50cms of snow in the last week.  Screenshot 2014-12-10 21.02.48It was a Revelstoke powder alert from my AllSnow app that caught my attention yesterday.  It was the first alert I’d received from our side of the border since the last big storm over a week ago and I was surprised to see they had so much snow last week.  Sunshine and Louise were both under 10cms for the week.  However, I’m not sure it would be worth the drive to Revy if your looking for better snow.  My buddy made the trek to Kicking Horse last weekend and he said the snow was good but the base was still pretty thin.  He wasn’t happy with the rock and stump hazards that will need a few more good snowfalls to cover up.  Like most of Alberta and BC, it’s been warm at Revy and the snow will likely be well packed out by the weekend.  My god, the forecast for Fernie tomorrow is +10C.  We’re all having spring skiing in December.  Getting back to Revelstoke, the snowfall tracker shows that they’re just having average early season snowfall.  I need above average to drive for 5 hours through the mountains in winter.Screenshot 2014-12-10 21.23.15



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