For the first time in a long time, nearly every part of the country, especially those with skiing and snowboarding resorts, has snow on the ground. Natural snow always brings skiers and snowboarders out flocking to the slopes. In some places, there might be just a little too much of it. Long lift lines and avalanches are becoming commonplace.
The current trans-America storm, that is pummeling the Northeast the first week of February got its start on the west coast. California’s Mammoth Mountain has reported nearly ten feet of snow (more than 110 inches) in ONE DUMP! Almost hard to imagine! It was enough to almost cover the chairlift seats.
Sadly, the heavy and sudden accumulation had its consequences. A 52 year-old Southern California man was found upside down in the snow during the blizzard. Other resort guests were already working to dig the skier out when the patrol arrived. The Oceanside (CA) man was taken to the Mammoth Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A little further east, the Utah Avalanche Center had already extended its avalanche warning to the Provo mountains, where a man was buried up to his neck by a slide at Sundance. The 21-year old local man’s ski came off and slid under a rope into closed off terrain. Once the skier was in the roped off area, an avalanche came down around the skier. He survived. Recently sill another person went missing in the Park City area.
On the East coast, a skier recently survived after getting buried in an avalanche on Mount Washington, NH, according to a report in the trade publication The Snow Industry Letter. The skier lost his skis and poles. When the flow stopped, he was face down, but with his head near the surface. His body was buried and he was unable to move other than to raise his head to breathe. His companion could not see him and so skied away to seek help. Bystanders started digging and were later joined by locals and snow rangers. The pair did not have avalanche beacons, probes or shovels, which are all recommended for people skiing in the area.
In reality, few recreational skiers and snowboarders would be dealing with avalanche control nor would they experience one. In various parts of the country, lift lines are another thing. From Sun Valley (ID) to Whitetail (PA) skiers are snowboarders are posting photos on Facebook of the throngs with some having a little fun by including Bernie Sanders memes (Relaxing in a Mt Snow line). Good to have a sense of humor.
Covid may have deterred some from venturing out to the mountains. However plenty are taking advantage of “good health” related experiences of being outdoors and getting exercise during the winter months.
What has been YOUR experience?
I made the decision to not try and violate VTs rules and was quoted in a major National News paper stating just that. As a resident of Pennsylvania managing through COVID has been hard with our weak and unbalanced state government . In PA no commitments (with any teeth or enforcement ) was made to real social distancing .. so since my vacation home is 1 hour from New York State’s Hunter Mtn; Platekill; Wyndham and Belleayre I decided to ski in a state that required capacity control not just on lift lines on inside the lodge but on ticket sales … I chose a “Ski3 Card” with NY ORDA which gets me access to Belleayre; Gore & Whiteface …besides guaranteeing me access the card provides discounts of 50% off on weekdays ;20% on weekends… and your sixth day is free.. it’s a huge win- unless you try and book without one-no weekend access foe the season … but New York unlike Penna will ensure i ride alone on the lift and gondola.. and everything is RFID touch less… until yesteday ; I have ski’d 19 times and had no lift lines or issues parking …, at this point given the sheer scale of Pennsylvania Hills and the lack of any government support I don’t see the need to ever ski in this state again…
Thanks for your comments Bruce. One has to do what is best, right?