This and many other questions were asked the last few days. "Why has Pincone been closed for so long?" "Why was the Peak closed today?"
'Tis an odd season for sure with wild weather and thin snowpack. The snow conditions along Pinecone ridge have been iffy lately at best. Between the crusty snow and thin cover, Pinecone has been closed due to "un-skiable/ride-able" conditions more than avalanche danger lately. Basically, if the snow in a given area is too thin, breakable, and/or variable for us to safely and efficiently "drive" a toboggan through, then we don't open it. We start to see conditions like this more and more towards spring in our south and east-facing terrain; places like Pinecone, Pioneer Ridge, and Berg's Bowl.
As for why things were closed all day today, it's simple really; it was just too windy to run chairs such as Jupiter, Thaynes, and Ski Team. In addition to this, we had to keep the Peak closed due to high winds loading the avalanche starting zones. There's just too much new snow to move around. Anybody who was out in Wasatch today could see the snow plumes off every ridge line and peak; I'd have to say it looked like the Himalayas out there. It was a wild weather and avalanche activity day for sure. We did some protection shooting above Jupiter this morning and pulled out some very large and dangerous slides. Slides that avalanche professionals tend to call "unsurvivable." When conditions finally did clear up a bit in the afternoon, Dennis Gray was able to get this picture of avalanches in Pincone Bowl.
24 hours of strong west winds, plenty of new snow to move around, and a hard crusty surface made for a dangerous combination. This is definitely NOT the time to venture onto steep terrain in the backcountry.
There is some good news for PCMR powder hounds tomorrow. We're going to come in early (6 AM) and do our best to get Jupiter, Jupiter Peak, AND all of Pincecone open for the holiday weekend. The winds are supposed to lighten up tonight and the sun should be out in the morning. It's going to take alot of work by our control teams and many pounds of explosives, but if the weather cooperates, there should be acres of good skiing and riding open by mid-morning. If you need any convincing, check out this shot of David skiing First Chute off Jupiter Peak just the other day. See you tomorrow!
Originally from the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania, Travis found his way to Park City three years ago and is now our grooming manager. When not in snowcat you can find him skiing or snowmobiling in the Utah backcountry or enjoying the skiing here at Park City Mountain Resort.