There is snow…….and then there is SNOW!!

IMG_0230 I am sitting here in Baltimore Airport waiting for a flight and I am looking out the window at brown grass, sunny skies, and the Chesapeake Bay. Not really what I want to see in January although this weekend, I will be in the Adirondacks with my long time pal Mike Smith skiing at Gore. New England has snow, Pa. has snow but it is relative to the pictures that I am showing in this post from Sugar Bowl, California. Most cities in the country talk about snow in inches. It puts people into a panic where they rush to the local grocery store to pick up emergency supplies like food, water and toilet paper. They hear 2-4 inches and the world stops and they wonder if the Armaggeddon is upon us. In the Donner Pass, where these pictures are taken, and in Tahoe where my friends the Durfees live, they measure snow in feet. Eric Durfee routinely calls me and tells me that they are receiving 6 feet of snow over the weekend. Amazing isn’t it?
I usually get out to ski with Eric a couple of times a year with the annual guys week in Tahoe and Mammoth. Two years ago, we received 14 feet of snow in one week. The locals in Tahoe and the Reno area treat those conditions with respect but they don’t rush to the grocery store. One night, it was my turn to drive the group to dinner and it snowed a foot while we were getting ready. I drove the group in Helen Durfee’s 4 wheel drive van. Not the monster 4 wheel drive Sport Mobile that Eric drives but the normal 4 wheel drive van. When we were finished with dinner, another 2 feet had fallen and being the easterner that I am, I drove carefully with the flashers on and the local pick up trucks blew by me like I was standing still. They have massive equipment out there that blows the snow up and over the side of the highway so that mid winter, you feel like you are driving in a huge maze where the sidewalls are well over 14 feet high.
Obviously the skiing in these conditions is epic and our last day at Northstar two years ago was an amazing day filled with several feet of new snow. It was snowing so hard that our tracks from previous runs were filled in by the time we made another run on those trails. Skiing for 8 days with deep powder conditions is something some people wait a lifetime to get. We had it big that week and I am hoping for more of that in the years to come.
One danger of that type of snow is avalanche. The ski areas are good about avalanche control but I never make the mistake of ignoring closure signs or going out of the resort into the backcountry. That type of skiing is very popular now but if you don’t have shovels, probes, and Pieps or other transmitting devices that will alert rescue personnel of your position, you are making a huge mistake. Lots of really good skiers have died recently because they didn’t heed the weather forecasts or the avalanche conditions of the area. You can never be too careful when it comes to epic snow storms. Pay attention to the trail closures and never go out into the backcountry unprepared.
Check these pictures out and you will be amazed by what mother nature doles out to the western mountains. In the mean time, I will brave the bullet proof conditions of the east until I get to the west this season.

5 thoughts on “There is snow…….and then there is SNOW!!

  1. Cuz-I-L says:

    GREAT snow photos to corroborate your story of snow accumulation in FEET out west!…and after reading this blog entry, I’ve got your theme song: “Oh the weather outside is frightful, McCloskey finds it delightful, Grab your skis and pieps let’s go, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”!!!! Slainte, Cuz-I-L

  2. Bob says:

    I wish I could remember how many calls I got 2 winters ago about tractor trailers who have been stuck at the Donner Pass for days. I never in my life thought they could get that much snow in one day.

  3. Daryl says:

    God surely knows how to bless you Pat! Some receive heeling, some receive good riches, and McCloskey get’s big Snow Storms!

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