Monday, November 26, 2007
Out West, No Snow
I spent Thanksgiving near South Lake Tahoe and in the distant dreamy parts of my brain, when I booked the trip back in October I envisioned myself ripping a few early-season turns at Kirkwood or Heavenly. Much to my dismay, the scene (though never reliable in the Sierras this time of year) was grim indeed.
The weather was cold and clear, with just a dusting of natural snow at the highest peaks rimming the Tahoe basin. The screenshot above, from one of Heavenly's Webcams today, tells you everything you need to know. The skiing's no good, so we went for a hike.
The fickleness of the early season is nothing new in Tahoe, where in recent years the skiing hasn't picked up until January. But this year, the lack of snow is affecting more reliable areas like Utah and Colorado.
Aspen, Snowmass and Vail all had to push back their openings after a promising October gave way to a warm, sunny November which didn't deliver snowstorms, nor evening lows that would permit adequate snow-making.
In Utah, the mixed news from Alta.com isn't much better:
"Alta opens Friday, November 30, at 9:15 am! Traditionally Alta opens with more snow than we have today. Mother Nature hasn't given us much snow lately, but the tireless efforts of our snowmaking, grooming and mountain crews have us ready to open this Friday...."
Tahoe I'd expect, Colorado I can forgive, but Alta, which may have America's most reliable natural snowfall, is just plain freaking me out.
I think I was in Vermont, a few years back, when I hear some greybeard wistfully state that he'd be sad if he lived to see the day when you couldn't ski in the New England winter. His was a haunting and early cry of fear for the American ski industry in the face of global warming.
Now here we are watching another wobbly ski-season struggling to take off...