Report from Saturday, March 11th, at Powderhorn Mountain Resort in far western Colorado.
The night before, I checked the radar compulsively, with another potent Atmospheric River event inbound from California. Lower elevations received heavy pouring rain throughout the night and into the morning. This was not a bad thing, knowing that my favorite stashes sit 4 to 5k feet in elevation higher than where I was watching webcams and radar. The wind of the gust front had been brutal with this incoming system, not allowing any snow to stick on our webcam. Thus creating unsureness of how much snow would be awaiting us when we arrived at our favorite local ski slopes. I was pleasantly surprised to wake up with a drifted 5-6″ on our webcam. This signaled that the wind had cut out early that morning and allowed the snow to stack up. These numbers put our 24-hour total up to a decent 8″ of medium density surfy spring cream!
At this point in the season here in Colorado, it’s hard to know what type of snow you will encounter on the hill from day to day. Massive amounts of moisture are readily available with “AR” events such as these, yet the temperatures are always the deciding factor for consistency. On this day, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found when I entered the shady woods of some of the local’s favorite glades. The snow seemed considerably deeper on the “West End” chair #2 terrain. It often is due to geologic placement and a unique microclimate. My early rise on this day paid off well. I scored the second chair, right behind local legend “Rabbit,” who lives nearby. As we waited for the lift operators to sweep snow from the chairs, we could easily see that each chair had a solid 8″, possibly more! This was quickly confirmed when I commenced my obligatory Hollywood laps in plain sight of the lift!
After a few untracked runs down some of my favorite pitches, I sought out more sheltered snow. This was a wise choice, as the snow was not only deeper but also had a much lighter consistency due to a colder temperature harbored by my favorite forest. The deeper snow was achieved, in part, by the brutal wind that was loading the glades and scouring the webcam. We have been blessed with an excellent snow surface all season so far, thanks to consistent and frequent storms, equalling 277″ to date. This total is already above average for our mountain, with no signs of slowing down yet! Who knows if we will get a slush season this year before our April 2nd closing date! This would be perfectly fine with me- a powder-packed end to a memorable season!
With the abundant rain at lower elevations, I was treated to a surprise I have only seen a few times in my years riding Powderhorn. Yet never of this magnitude! I tried to stay focused and watch the road while driving in poor road conditions. As I entered the canyon, I saw a monstrous waterfall pouring over the rimrock of the towering canyon walls! I rounded a corner, and there was another one and another one! They were everywhere! I talked with a gentleman on the chairlift who counted 23 waterfalls in all! Some were very tall, some less; I even saw a triple waterfall that cascaded down! I probably should have stopped for a quick picture, but I had to stay on the road to assert my position in the first chair race. Luckily for you, I did stop on the way home to grab a couple of pictures of the falls, which were still flowing after a full day of shredding! To top it all off, I was lucky enough to see a group of bighorn sheep grazing on the roadside to cap off a magically epic spring powder day!
Days like these remind me why March is my favorite month of the year! Colorado, as a whole, receives the most snow of any month in March. Although, it doesn’t often stick around long, with encroaching spring temperatures. Thus adding motivation to “strike while the iron is hot” and the snow is cold. The early bird always gets the worm, but ,it is extra crucial in March if you want to ride softer snow.