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3/29/11 The sun is gone again…

Good morning skiers and riders,

Well… so much for the sun. Yesterday we basked in its brilliance as
the somewhat crusty chutes opened to an anxious crowd. The skiing
actually improved as the crust was etched and the powder released from
its wind formed prison. Hence, skiing in the chutes was excellent into
the afternoon and grins were seen in every rising chair. The rest of
the mountain had wind issues if you were off the groomers and that
made life interesting. In places, like Bonanza, even the groomed rums
were pretty mangy from the incessant and almost week long hurricane.
Winds are calm today but skies are once again cloudy and are forecast
to stay so. Skiing surface conditions should be better today as Dave’s
machines and the spring warmth perform their magic.

The rest of the week is forecast to warm significantly to possibly 80
degrees by Friday in Reno so expect big changes in the snow quality in
the chutes and elsewhere. In some locations this could mean the first
real spring corn of the season and in other places could lead to
morning and evening ice. One thing is for sure. Conditions will be
changing rapidly this week, so if you want some of the best skied in
chute conditions on tap today better head on up here pretty quickly.
BC conditions are interesting with South facers turning to corn
already in the PM with wind packed pow in the shade and corn in the
sun on some BC runs yesterday. Conditions were unbelievably good
yesterday for epic long vert runs on the East side of the Carson Range
with relatively short walks out.

Oh, and to make your day… word on the street yesterday at the
mountain was that Rose would extend their season until May 8th open
every day. Yahoo!

-Sven Svenhardt

3/28/11 Finally… the wind has stopped

Good morning Skiers and Riders,

Yes… finally. The wind has stopped for a moment after blowing like a
cyclone all through the night. After such a hurricane it will be
interesting to see if there is any non-wind effected powder pockets
out there. However, if you found just the right pocket of North
facing, deeply protected trees, it COULD happen (and monkeys could
fly out my butt)… although you would have probably have to ski wind
crust to get to it. Good luck in your prospecting. Theoretically, all
the lifts should be running on this calm sunny morning…

The backcountry will be interesting with lots of sistrugi, wind rows
and crust. Be careful out there!

Sven Svenhardt

3/27/11 Blow, Blow, Blow the Lifts Down

Although difficult to believe… it looks like another day of
windholds with a complete shut down possible by PM. Summit lifts are
starting on wind hold with winds forecast to increase this afternoon.
You could come up and ride a sickeningly swinging Lakeview or better
yet, go to a movie. On a more positive note, the skies are mostly
clear this morning for the first time in close to a week, but the wind
blew up to 75 mph at Sky Tavern last night with stronger gusts
yesterday afternoon. At one point we had a gust so strong that it blew
my wife up hill through the fence to the top of the Skyridge lift.
Formed some hellacious cornices which my 8 year old son did “control
work” on as a want to be Jr. Ski Patrol. Despite the wind, the skiing
was actually pretty good yesterday if you picked your line carefully.
My guess is today will be similar with much more hard wind slab to ski
on. For the BC, there was more wind loading last night so beware of
hard slab conditions.

Today you may have to… as the 70’s song goes…. “Have a drink, have
a drive and go out and see what you can find”.

Sven Svenhardt

3/25/11 Sort of open…

Greetings skiers and riders,

Some great wind packed powder and powder conditions could be had this
morning… but unfortunately…we got last chair just before 11:00
AM. Pondo is the only thing still spinning at 12:30 PM. The
backcountry is in interesting shape with some great powder skiing
available on Northeast and Eastern aspects. Mind your P’s and Q’s
though. Avalanche danger is high with all the wind loading. Now would
be a good time to use your shovel to dig a pit and do a shovel shear
test (if nothing else) on any suspect slopes. Use your head… and you
can still win… and thats the last word today from this old Sven.

We are headed out for some laps on Sky and perhaps Slide Access. Hope
wherever you are headed brings you just as many smiles!

-Sven Svenhardt

3/25/11 Open or Not: That is the question?

Good morning skiers and riders.

The snow is falling and has been for 30 straight hours. The mountain
was closed all yesterday while the white stuff just piled up higher
and deeper like so much gubment paperwork. Our kids had to ski home
from the bus stop last night because our road is 6 feet under and with
the highway closed they didn’t get home till 8:00 PM from school as
the bus wouldn’t venture up the road. The snow is past measureable and
it’s 16 degrees. I can’t find my snowblower. Its buried somewhere on
the deck. My truck… its white… forget it.

The big question is will Rose and the highway open today. Will it be
one of those days when the summit stays closed and Rose is open to
Reno skiers only. Only time will tell. Be sure to call Rose before
heading up… and yes… the wind is still blowing but not quite as bad.

Given that, where do you want to be today. At work or school or at
Rose when (and if) the lift opens. As its less than a week before
April, I think this storm is well deserving of the descriptor “Miracle”.
Hope you get the chance to come up and get some. See you lucky ones on
the first chair (or first trudge for us human powered if the lifts
won’t run types…)!

Sven Svenhardt

3/24 10:00 AM Avy update

UPDATED 10:10 AM

Here is the detailed avalanche info from the Fireplug slide provided
by Nate Corona from the Washoe County Hasty Team. Trust me, its worth
checking out.

http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/node/1122

UPDATED 9:25 AM

Sorry Folks, Wally World is Closed Today! Yuck Yuck!

From the first Rose ski report to the second, the resort status has
changed drastically. Haven’t seen that one before have we? Rose is now
closed for the day due to blizzard conditions… the same blizzard
conditions that existed when the first report was issued a little
before 7:00 AM. With this often a standard MO on storm days, it might
be worth it to wait until the 2nd report is issued before warming up
the car in the future. Beware conditions in the BC today if you are
headed out. Lots of wind loaded slopes and avy conditions should make
life interesting on steep wind loaded slopes.

Report as of approximately 7:45 AM

Winds are howling today so I wouldn’t expect either summit lifts to
run but keep checking if your jonesin for some pow. Lakeview is
scheduled to operate but I wouldn’t hold my breath. We received just
under a foot last night and it is snowing lightly. The wind however
has heaped everything up in leeward zones. Severe wind loading
occurred last night on most of the ridges. Evaluate any slope you want
to ski carefully. The consequences could be deadly (see reprint from
yesterday below).

As I mentioned yesterday, the Mt. Rose area did produce a fairly large
slide yesterday in the Proletariat/Hourglass area and there were both
injuries and tree damage from a large slab. I had several contacts
yesterday from folks surprised by the size and dynamics of the slide
since the Sierra Avalanche Center reported only “Moderate” danger.
This “surprise” motivated me to get up this morning and discuss some
common misconceptions about avalanche forecasting. I also noticed many
skiers and boarders in the Davis Creek area and elsewhere in the
backcountry this winter who did not have avy gear with them and
perhaps had even less knowledge. Several times we had parties ski or
board above us on loaded slopes that put our party at risk. This
situation has also motivated me to generate the following.

As Mike Ferrari, the Patrol Director at Mt. Rose has already asserted,
(and accurately I might add) opinions are like assholes, everyone has
one of two of them. Take the Sven Opinion, like many others, with a
grain of salt and do your own research and then make that critical
decision on whether to ski any given slope, based on all the
information you can collect. Here tis…

The Sierra Avalanche Center, or any other forecast center for that
matter, bases their predictions on research they do on a variety of
critical factors. Given that, and no matter how exhaustive their data
set, they CANNOT predict whether any given slope you wish to ski will
slide or not slide. Avalanche science, like meteorological science,
is by nature, an inexact one. Every given slope is a unigue blend of
elevation, aspect, topography, wind effect determined by topography,
surface anchors etc. You can feed all the data you have on a specific
given slope into a computer and the computer could say a slide is
eminent and then load a dozen skiers on it and it might very well
stubbornly stay put. Conversely, you could, as the CEO of Alpine
Meadows did years ago, bomb and ski cut the hell out of a slope and
then decree the slope to be safe, open it to the public over the
protest of the Patrol Director, only to have a large slide that
results in a fatality.

All this comes down to your knowledge base, and any forecast center’s
forecast should be just one factor in determining what slopes you are
willing to risk skiing. Forecast centers, (like the National Weather
Service) by nature, paint with fairly broad strokes. We are blessed in
the Sierra’s to have a maritime snowpack which typically settles
relatively quickly, unlike our cousins in the Rockies. However, that
doesn’t mean that conditions are safe, it means that relative to
Telluride or Big Sky, they may be safer, all things being equal. All
this comes down to using you head. Knowledge is power. The more you
know about the physics of avalanches and the specific slope you wish
to ski, the better your chances you will not be injured or killed in a
slide. To say its not a gamble however would be a lie. If you enjoy
skiing steeper terrain in the backcountry or even in the chutes in all
kinds of weather and you want to keep on living, I would highly
suggest taking a course in avalanche safety, practicing what you have
learned and staying alert to the chance that you or your party could
be on the 6:00 news if you miscalculate and your decision is a poor one.

For more information please contact the www.slidesnowschool.com, Mt.
Rose Ski Patrol or the American Institute For Avalanche Research and
Education (AIARE).

-Sven Svenhardt