With temperatures at the house closing in on the mid 40s F by midday Saturday, we were expecting corn snow up on the mountain, but as it turns out, that wasnít quite what we found. We started off at Timberline, and if anywhere on the mountain was going to feature spring snow, the lower half of Timberline was going to be it. We joined up with Stephen and Helena, and once we got off at the Timberline mid station, we headed over to Spell Binder based on a request from Dylan. The Spell Binder headwall was far from spring snow, it was mid winter snow, but pretty firm since there had obviously been some temperature fluctuations down there. It may have been due to the cool west or northwest breeze that was blowing, but only the lower elevation spots in direct sunlight featured corn snow. Those spots were good, but you had to stick to the skierís right of the runs, and even then you were looking at partial runs.
If we werenít going to get much in the way of spring snow, we decided that weíd head to the top of the main mountain and see where we could find the best winter snow. I didnít know how high the freezing levels had gone during the week, but once we got to the top of Wilderness, I could see that they had certainly gone above 3,000í in areas exposed to the sun. We skied Bolton Outlaw, and the snow was OK for presumably going above freezing at some point, but certainly not like last Saturday. I checked out some of the snow in the trees, and it turned out that up around the 3,000í mark, snow that had not seen any sun was still dry and powdery. Based on what I saw up there, it looked like north-facing terrain from about 2,500í on up likely held onto some good powder. While sunny and at times warm, the weather was pretty dry last week, so that may have helped with the preservation. I bet some of the north-facing lines below Paradise Pass or off the peak of Ricker Mountain would deliver some great turns.
One note of interest that I observed from the Wilderness area was the state of the snowpack in the higher reaches of Ricker Mountain. Thereís a lot of snow up there. You can actually see snowfields starting to form in some areas due to the big storms that came through at the end of February. Also, I saw that the big trail map at the top of the Wilderness Lift was starting to get buried, and as I recall itís pretty high off the ground. I can see new lines forming all over the place high up on Ricker Mountain now, so Iím sure there are plenty of good turns up top for those that have time to hike above the lifts. If the boys had the stamina and inclination at this point, that would be a fun way to spend some days.
Lower down on Wilderness we took some turns in some of the trees off Old Turnpike, and the untracked snow wasnít half bad. There was some nice settled powder in spots, but it was highly variably because if you got to a spot where the sun had hit (which was most places), there would be a sun/melt crust. Lower Turnpike itself featured great snow as usual. There was good packed powder on the shaded side of the trail, which transitioned right over to corn on the sunny side with little if any hybrid in between. You could almost alternate winter and spring skiing with each turn if you wanted to.
Although there was the slight breeze and the air temperature was probably just in the 30s F, the bright sun made things quite comfortable so the base area had that spring feel in the afternoon. We hung outside with the kids for a bit and got some waffles from the hut before making a last run back down to Timberline. By the time we headed back down, the Timberline area was already closed, so it had that spooky, private ski area feel. A few images from the day are attached below:
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