Where to Ski This Weekend

Before we get to this weekend’s snow, let’s talk about last weekend’s storm.

The sweetest surprises were delivered to Wolf Creek, Monarch and Silverton. While the three resorts expected 11 inches, 7 inches and 12 inches, skiers instead woke to 23, 17 and 16 inches Sunday.

I skied Monarch on Monday and still found plenty of fresh turns in the trees and in Milkwood Bowl.

The rest of the state saw 3 to 10 inches, with Aspen and Snowmass lagging the rest.

Overnight Monday, light snow fell in the northern and central mountains, with Steamboat leading the pack at 3 inches.

Another storm is forecast to pass through Colorado Thursday night and Friday, with 4 to 8 inches in the mountains in Summit, Eagle, Pitkin and Routt counties, wrote OpenSnow forecaster Joel Gratz.

Prime time for the softest turns should be Saturday morning. Maybe the storm will stall atop the mountains and dump another extra foot of snow. It’s wishful thinking, but one can dream.

Forecast

Gratz’s models are showing another storm for Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, though it is trending farther north. Depending on where the pattern swings, Colorado could see either significant snow or low-to-moderate totals.

The favorable snow pattern may then away from the state. Gratz expects the storm to swing further north and east, which could clip some of the northern and eastern mountains.

Not great news for the state, especially areas like Telluride that already are struggling to open the rest of its terrain.

The Real Friends on a Powder Day

As mentioned in last week’s blog, backcountry skiing is one of the fastest-growing outdoor sports. The burgeoning community has fostered new terrain, new technology and new amenities, like the recently-approved Sisters Cabin in Summit County.

So much is changing so rapidly in the sport that it can be easy, but potentially lethal, to forget the basics. Whether you are headed toward the 14,265-foot summit of Castle Peak in the Elk Mountains or the low-angle glades on Monarch Pass, always remember the backcountry skier’s most important equipment mantra: beacon, shovel, probe.

Having these three pieces of equipment can be the difference between life and death during an avalanche, as they are critical to locating and digging out a buried skier before they run out of oxygen.

Like all technology, these tools are only effective if properly used. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education developed an avalanche safety certification program for the occasional backcountry skier and the aspiring guide. AIARE, as it’s more well-known, disseminates its education materials in 13 states and three other countries; the materials are available at the Pikes Peak Alpine School in Colorado Springs.

Pikes Peak Alpine School’s January and February classes are full, but spaces are still available for the March 8 to 11 and March 29 to April 1 four-day courses.

"Beacon, Shovel, Probe" is a little diddle I sing to myself before I head out to the car in the morning and before taking my first steps up the slopes. Learn it, live it, ski it.

Photo of the Week

We want your snow photos. Face shots, family portraits, McTwists 540s on a halfpipe, even your best wipeouts.

Send in your photos and we’ll choose the best of the week to feature on our website.

Email your photos to liz.forster@gazette.com or direct message them on Instagram to @co_gazette for a chance to be featured.

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