Praying for powder
By Alex Closeaction staff writerDriving along the dry pavement, looking out over clear beaches to the lake, I found myself wishing every year could be like last year.Last year there was no massive snow-making effort on the slopes. Last year the first snow fell on September 20. Of course, it melted within two days, but the first legitimate snow storm that stuck was in the middle of October. Squaw, Sugar Bowl and Alpine skiers were getting laps in before they were trick or treating. That was last year, and that was November of last year.After a year like that, nothing else is the same. Especially an average year like this.
The skiing in Tahoe is not usually phenomenal until after New Years. But for crying out loud, at least there is skiing to speak of by then. This last week of fluttering through snowmakers and scraping over branches and grass was not what I had been dreaming of all fall.Last year at this time, Squaw Valley had recorded 115 inches of cumulative snowfall on the summit and 61 inches total at the base of the mountain.This year they have gotten 66 inches at the top and 15 inches at the bottom.Is it global warming? Is it a drought? Maybe it is just that not every year can be an eight month winter paradise of week-long blizzards and waist-deep fluff.
Whatever it is, I don’t like it.Don’t get me wrong, I love the summers here and I love nice weather. But I also like snow. And I don’t like sub-freezing temperatures and clear skies. I especially don’t like rain.I moved down from the Pacific Northwest because I was tired of living under a cloud for nine months, tired of constantly being wet and scraping mold from under my carpet. I came because of the multi-foot dumps followed by brilliantly sunny days. But, as we all know, you can’t do anything about the weather. But with talk about losing 40 percent of our snowpack over the next 50 years due to global warming, maybe we should think about doing something.
What I do miss from last year is the open terrain. As I rode up Kangaroo last Friday on Alpine’s opening day, I missed having the option the year before to ski wherever I wanted, to ride whatever lift to whatever run and not have to worry (too much) about hitting rocks or branches or stumps.However, in attempt to appease the Snow Gods and not piss them off into robbing us of all glory this year, there is still hope.In fact, I distinctly remember my younger brother last year, out for his Christmas vacation from college, bitching that he wasn’t going to get any powder days in. The complaining really got frequent around New Years, when the snow was getting old and crusty. He was sure it would dump the day after he left. About a week later it started snowing. As most of us remember, it snowed about four feet in two days, the next week it did the same, and the third week? You guessed it, four more feet. That certainly shut my brother up. The only sound that came out of his mouth was an occasional “yeeehaaa” as he carved through the trees. That and a loud snore each night as he collapsed after ripping hard all day. He got two weeks of powder days in before he left, and nearly missed his flight due to continuous optimal winter weather.The point is, maybe Old Man Winter is still feeling tired from last winter. Hopefully his resolution this year is the same as it was last year: To dump as much fluffy white pow on the Tahoe area as he possibly can.All I can say to that is bring it old man, bring it.
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