In “Hokkaido’s Heli Debate,” Whittaker investigates a brewing issue on Japan’s north island, where backcountry and helicopter skiers are squaring off over the shadowy trees and sunny bowls of Shiribetsu-dake (3,632 ft.). “Can there be enough for everyone?” Whittaker ponders.
“May was an unreal month,” says Vail, Colo.-based photographer Jeff Cricco, who estimates the state’s high peaks received more than 100 inches throughout the month. And when he drove up Independence Pass, which tops 12,095 feet between Twin Lakes and Aspen, the sight in late May was stunning. “Usually those mountains, even mid-winter, have a lot of rock showing,” Cricco says. “But all you could see were massive faces with no rock. It very much felt like we were driving in Alaska.”
“May finally brought massive amounts of snow and winter weather to Colorado,” says Boulder-based photographer Fredrik Marmsater. Numerous upslope storms filled in the Front Range, bringing the snowpack from low-tide conditions to around 150-percent of normal. For his part, Marmsater calls it one of the best springs in recent memory.
“Since the beginning of May, parts of Colorado have received over three feet of new snow, especially at higher elevations,” says Front Range-based photographer Casey Day. And, he adds, after a winter filled with hit-or-miss storms, skiers are rejoicing across Colorado and fully embracing mid-winter powder conditions in the backcountry this spring. “Multiday upslope storms rolled in one after the next, providing endless supply of moisture. We always seem to have great conditions in the spring here in Colorado, but it’s been years since we’ve had this much snow this late in the season.” Here’s a gallery from Colorado’s deep May, as seen through Casey Day’s lens.
It was quite the dry season in the Northwest—so dry that some ski resorts didn’t experience “low tide” conditions, while others on the West Coast didn’t even open. In a twisted joke, it took until April Fools’ Day for the first decent storm of the season to arrive, dropping 10 inches on Mt. Hood and the surrounding Cascades and warranting a “sick” day.
While far western New York is getting all the headlines for mega-deep snow—nine feet in the last week—it’s falling farther east, too (where there’s a bit more elevation). Several lake-effect bursts off Vermont’s Lake Champlain have steadily built a base over high elevations in the Green Mountains, and, since most resorts won’t open until this weekend or the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s open season for inbounds skinning. Here’s a gallery of early-season and early-morning earned shots from Stowe, which opened last weekend.
With 100 inches in the forecast, winter hype was buzzing around Bellingham late last week. What most people don’t think about, however, is that when the Internet blows up with comments like “Baker is getting 100 inches over the weekend,” the forecasts are referencing the summit, which is at 10,000 feet. The actually ski area sits at around 5,000 feet.
With rain and snow falling for much of May, Kordell, Zach, Cindi-Lou and I waited for the forecast to improve for our trip to Wyoming’s Wind River Range. But that put us a few weeks late to enter the Winds from the Dickinson Park trailhead on the east side with a muddy, 15-mile approach. So we decided to retreat to the Tetons for Plan B.
For the third year, Bent Gate Mountaineering of Golden, Colo. took over Silverton Mountain for three days of private skiing, backcountry touring and partying. And it sounds way better than the flu. We sent Colorado-based photographer Casey Day to the Silverton infermary and he came back with this photo gallery.