Christmas cracker for US resorts

23rd December 2010, by Chris Gill

It’s not just Europe making the headlines for the festive getaway ... many of the US ski areas will be enjoying their best December snowfalls for many years.

It looks as though La Nina has set up a fabulous white Christmas for Colorado, California & co. So who’s getting the best dumps? Well, California’s Mammoth and Squaw Valley are both reporting tremendous snowfalls this week. Squaw gained over 180cm fresh powder in five days and they are calling it a record-breaking month, with more snow forecast during the Christmas week. Even more astonishing is that Mammoth reports almost 3m of snow in the week and its snowiest start for almost 40 years.

The latest news is that Mammoth received 5cm of snow every two hours, on average, continuously through last weekend, and the early part of this week. They have been digging themselves out of it this week: a sign that normally stands 5m above ground level is seen, in recent pictures, to be almost completely buried in the snowfall. Of course, the downside of the storm is that much of the ski area was closed last weekend, and when it did reopen the poor visibility kept visitors away.

Mammoth Mountain spokesman, Dan Hansen is said to have commented: “It has really been an incredible amount of work just to get any of the upper mountain stuff going. The amount of snow they got was absolutely insane. Patrollers had to go up on the snow bank and directly over the top station to get to the other side of Chair 23.”

p(caption). In an effort to reopen the ski area ... Mammoth storm in full swing

Colorado continues to enjoy excellent conditions in many of its leading resorts: fresh snow fell in Vail last weekend. And Steamboat has clocked up another metre, living up to its champagne powder reputation. The resort now has 162 trails open and expecting a bright Christmas weekend. It has not been notably cold, though, which is at least a little more comfortable than we experienced in the Alps last week!

Elsewhere, and Jackson Hole is also doing very well indeed for the month. With 5m snow depth reported on the upper mountain and 10-15cm of fresh powder on Thursday 22 December, the Wyoming resort is set fair for an excellent start to the season; all lifts and runs now open.

Further east and south in New Mexico, they’ve had more a taste of the big freeze rather than heavy snowfalls – but at least this has ensured that snowmaking could continue in earnest. And more terrain is open early across this region than is usual for the time of year.



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