December 11, 2009

Is this ‘The Year’?

That's the thought on my mind this morning. Another nice fat storm blowing in off the Pacific, with rain forecast locally into Sunday. Mt Baldy Ski is conspicuously silent on new accumulations. They're saying snow levels are expected to drop, which may be code for, "It's raining." Mountain High says 2" new snow—but they're opening up the East resort, which is a really good sign this early in the year. Old reliable Mammoth Mountain says 4" new snow on a 3-6' base. Hmm...not much happening out of this storm as yet.

As I see it, we've been way under average for snowfall in California since the '05/'06 winter, which was (I believe) an El Nino year. That was coincidentally the year I officially started up sierradescents, which was frustrating, as we got off with a bang but have bemoaned dry winters ever since. There've been opportunities over the years of course, but there are also a lot of lines in the Sierra that just need a lot of snow to open up. Let's face it, looking back over some of my trip reports, someone unfamiliar with the Sierra might think that conditions like I skied on Mount LeConte or Birch Mountain or Mount Tyndall are the norm out here.

Really I suppose the most important reason to hope for a big winter is to quash that terrible shame I feel everytime I read those damned Coloradans whooping about another unusually-stable deep December snowpack, or fantastic powder skiing in June. It's abnormal, I tell you. Let's hope this is the year that harmony and balance are restored to the Universe—and we get ridiculous amounts of snow!

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Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow



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