Snowboarded Regular Again & the “50 Inch Rule”

It was day 8 of the season and day 2 of 8 riding on a regular stance. The snow was actually very good in the open on the runs under lift 9 & lift 6 … three inches of new thick, but not over-the-top heavy, snow blanked the area – combined with the three inches the night before left 6 inches of fresh to be found in untouched pockets.

Having said that, I found the snow coverage in the trees in Satisfaction to be teetering … on one hand the powder was deep and plentiful in spot, yet was sparse and bony in other areas ripe with tree branches & stumps to slam you into the ground (or worse yet into a tree). One run was enough to understand the state of affairs regarding tree skiing at this point in time. Be VERY careful! Even my favorite Mammoth finger — which was otherwise well covered — had a few obstacles to worry about.

The rule of thumb for those who like to venture into the trees is 50 inches being the minimum base … although the more cautious of the lot will wait until there’s even more coverage to venture into the trees. I’d say it’s a decent marker, but depends on your ability level & equipment. Snowboarders typically have an easier time vs. skiers skipping over tree parts and such given that there’s a single plank. Gear that allow for quick turns also provides an advantage for tree skiing / snowboarding. I ride a Burton Fish which naturally floats, bounces over crap, and can turn on a dime … but still, there are hardly any guarantees.

Apparently, the Gold Hill lift is running, but I believe there isn’t any terrain open underneath. Not sure of the purpose of this other than to deliver guests to a high point on the mountain and/or to allow them to access Alpino Vino (restaurant/bar). I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to advertise that 16/18 lifts open! … even though it might be considered a bit misleading.

The ski area is currently reporting a 43″ base and a 7 day storm total of 22″ … while it’s hard to complain about nearly two feet of snow, it’s definitely the relative “short end of the stick” compared to other Colorado ski resort totals (and the rain fall totals which southern California had received). From the Denver Post, here’s a sampling of other resort’s reported base depths:

Aspen Mountain – 40″
Aspen Highlands – 71″ (now that’s interesting!)
Crested Butte – 68″
Eldora – 38″
Monarch – 64″
Powderhorn – 10″
Silverton – 130″ (now that’s VERY interesting!!!)
Wolf Creek – 79″

All in all, the mountain is doing OK … I’ve seen it worse at this time of year, but it’s a far cry from being epic … Crested Butte or Aspen Highlands would be my choice if I were “watching closely” and hadn’t decided where to go just yet. Both of those mountains rock!

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