|Bridger Bowl Snow Report, Christmas Eve, 2015|
Nearby to our south, the Big Sky ski resort reported a 40 to 60 inch snow base and "fantastic skiing and riding." Big Sky invites "C’mon out and enjoy the biggest skiing in America! We’re sure you’ll be stoked you did!"
The Bozeman Chronicle reported on the early season opening of the ski season.
Santa Claus came early and filled Bridger Bowl with 2 feet of smoky snow this week, appeasing the valley’s powder hounds. From the ski hill’s parking lot it was apparent that Bozeman had been stricken with the powder flu — 2,305 skied Thursday.
Cooper Krause, 26, an engineer for Morrison-Maierle, had to go in to work this morning but was still on the slopes by noon, enjoying the fresh snow.
“It’s pretty good,” Krause said as he pushed off with a friend at the top of the Sunnyside Lift.
The Dec. 11 opening day at Bridger Bowl was a week later than last year. But the weather’s been cooperating since and 13,265 people have visited in the first week.
“This time of year it’s always a touchy point waiting for the right storms to really kick things off,” said Doug Wales, Bridger Bowl’s director of marketing. “Some years you start fat and happy.”
Wales was a bit skeptical about the preseason forecasts for a warm, dry El Niño year in the Rocky Mountains.
“It’s setting up well now and right when we need it for the holidays,” Wales said.
“The big challenge is getting the snow, and we’re on our way. Obviously its got to keep up and we’ll continue to make snow as much as we can early on,” he said. “But we’re excited about where we are today.”
Out-of-bounds and backcountry skiers take note, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center said danger was high on steep and windy slopes.
“The Bridger Range has received close to 2 feet of snow this week and over 1 inch of snow water equivalent. Yesterday’s low density snow will create loose snow avalanches that could become large enough to knock you over or trigger a larger avalanche. Strong winds prior to yesterday formed wind slabs on a weak snowpack that we observed on Saddle Peak last Sunday. New snow and a weak snowpack will make the avalanche danger today high on slopes steeper than 35 degrees and all wind-loaded terrain. Avalanche danger is considerable on all other slopes,” read Thursday’s report.To call attention to the potential for danger and publicize conditions, the Avalanche Center made an early season trip up Mt. Ellis (visible out my window over the laptop as I blog). For a flatlander like myself, Mt. Ellis a great place to hike -- before the snow falls.
Here was the Avalanche Center's December 19th warning.
The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center is issuing a Backcountry Avalanche Warning for the mountains near Cooke City, the Madison Range, the Gallatin Range, the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone, and the Bridger Range. Continuous snowfall and strong winds have added weight to a weak and unstable snowpack. Strong wind this morning will continue to load slopes. The avalanche danger is rated HIGH on all slopes. Natural and human triggered slides are likely. Avalanche terrain and avalanche runout zones should be avoided.