While we basked in Euro-sunshine in early March, La Nina gave up pounding South-East Australia and returned to the Pacific Northwest. 12 feet of snow was a common March accumulation around the Cascades ski hills. Fortunately we were back in time to catch the second half of the deluge. Typically for this season though, the big storms hit midweek while we were closeted in offices. Still, the weekend stuff wasn’t bad.
A big thanks to Schweitzer for issuing a $99 Spring season pass. We grabbed one of those, and picked up 4 excellent powder days over two weekends. It was mostly mid-winter snow and 4-6 inches each day, the only hint of Spring being one morning when 3 inches of heavy snow came down. It skied like cauliflower soup (no cheese), creamy and chunky. Otherwise it was primo northern Idaho cold smoke.
In between we had a Mission Ridge powder weekend. Same story, 4-6 inches new each day, and with the best cover I’ve ever seen at Mission, we chewed up pow like the Tea Party embracing budget cuts. We even hitched a ride from a friendly patroller with a sled and rope, which made the ascent up Windy Ridge a piece of cake. The foot-deep untracked pow was so good up there, we hiked it 3 more times that afternoon.
This weekend we closed down Schweitzer for the season. No pow (it fell in the week – 23 inches of it!), but the skiing was fine, especially on north facing terrain which retained talcum-like packed powder high up in the bowl. It was a bit of an X-File why the snow off Stella was better than the front side, but as if we cared why as we ripped down the groomers at mega-high speeds, dodging more cedars than people. On our last run down Stiles on Sunday afternoon, it started to snow. By the time we drove out of the car park, it was dumping. Yep – this is a La Nina Spring …. (Schweitzer closed with a 150 inches+ base!)
Schweitzer – Sat/Sun -10,200, 10,400m vert
Mission – Sat/Sun – 8400, 8600m vert
Schweitzer Sat/Sun -10,900, 9100m vert
Schweitzer Sat/Sun – 9600, 9300m vert
58 days, 20 powder days, 491,800m vertical