The Sierra Nevada’s shining star, Mother Nature, has delivered the goods during this storm; and the goods just get deeper every day. Snow has found its way to every mountain crag and has achieved extravagant depths in a matter of 72 hours. Trees look more like shrouded towering ghosts than the gentle Jeffrey pines of the week prior.
With snow comes weather; and with this storm, lots of both. Sometimes that combo is a game-changer in terms of running chair lifts. Sometimes the game changes in a matter of minutes and without notice. And when you’ve spent time traveling to the mountain to find that lifts which, only 20 minutes ago, were set to open are now on wind hold, it adds insult to injury.
Lots of Alpine’s diehards are chomping at the bit to get the goods – as they should be. The snow is going to be amazing. Waiting for a chair lift to open that’s been put on wind hold can feel like an eternity. Some guests are infuriated.
But we simply cannot and will not open a chair lift to skiers and riders with excessive winds. It’s not only unfair to a guest; it’s unfair to anyone who cares about that guest.
Today, patrol spent all day on snow safety routes, doing their best keeping up with more accumulation – and readying the mountain for whenever the winds diminish enough to open more terrain. It’s not easy: today’s maximum wind speed was 106mph. Walk straight into a breeze that stiff wearing skis and a 40-lb backpack through thigh-deep snow, and you’ve got an idea of their day.
Lift maintenance spent all day making sure the chair lifts didn’t freeze, preparing for a chance for future-day operations. Stick your hand out the window of a car moving 106mph through 20-degree air and see how long it takes for it to freeze. That was their day.
The point of this post? We understand that it’s frustrating when all you want to do is ski or ride fresh powder – and you can’t. We understand it’s frustrating that when you departed the house for skiing, the snow report declared certain lifts open; and then closed as soon as you park the car at Alpine. We all do our best to keep up with the fickle wind and its dictation over chair lift changes.
Please know that everyone here is working ’round-the-clock to keep up with the snow, and can’t wait for the wind to slow. The mountain will be here. And as sure as the sun rises, the winds will eventually diminish. And the chair lifts will open. And you will ski and ride through beautiful powder.
This is why Roundhouse Chair was on a wind hold:
This was the calm part of the day, around 7am near Ward Peak: