Snow Trax 8 | New Mexico ski conditions | Ski resort events
Full moon behind skier.

A Mid-Winter Pause to Reflect | By Snowsports Writer Daniel Gibson

Winter seems to have run out of steam, or I should say, condensation. The snow valve has been largely shut off in the Southwest, and the Rockies in general. For instance, Big Sky, Montana reports just a 39-inch base; Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 49 inches at mid-mountain; and Alta, Utah just 41 inches. Cali isn’t any better, with the greatest depth at Squaw Valley — 39 inches at the bottom and 61 at top.

Mt. Shasta in far Northern California as seen from the Oregon side. Photo by and courtesy of Larry Turner. (Top image) Lake of the Woods in Oregon on a full moon night, January 2016. Photo by and courtesy Larry Turner.

La Niña is showing her stingy nature, as predicted, but that makes the Pacific Northwest the place to head this year. Mt. Hood, Oregon, reports 88 to 129 inches; Mt. Baker, Washington, 150 inches, and Whistler-Blackcomb 100 inches. Interior B.C. is also in the flow, with Kicking Horse enjoying a phenomenal 165 inches at mid-mountain.

But January has historically been a dry month in the region, and we will surly see wetter weather in the months ahead. So while we await the occasional storm to sweep far to the south, I console you with some lines written by author and photographer Larry Turner of Malin, Oregon.

“Winter . . . is a season of deep quiet where knowing becomes absolute, unquestionable. So I go with the light and it goes with me. It brings me poetry of the soul; it makes me complete. I seek it and it glows within my spirit, something beyond words, an eloquence that is eternal. Breath deeply of winter because it breathes deeply of you. It will take its toll if you’re not paying attention . . . but if you are, it will give you gifts that are undeniable. It will give you winter wings.”


Mountain Manager Josh Faber posted some news about snowmaking efforts at Ski SF on Facebook on Jan. 8. He noted, “Snowmaking is our only way to combat a light snowfall year. We need two elements to make snow, electricity and water. We started the year with no electricity and used a million-watt generator to create power to make snow on Midland and Easy Street. No easy task by any stretch. Water is our current hold up. With the dry summer and lack of monsoon season our water source is producing 60 – 70 percent less water than normal. To put this in context, on a cold, low humidity night we can use about a million gallons of water for snowmaking. It is currently taking us 7-9 days to recoup a million gallons of water; we are in this cycle of hurry up to make snow and then must wait for water. We have started making snow on Middle Gayway and plan to continue up Gayway as quickly as we can.”

Dan Gibson
Snowsports journalist Daniel Gibson, photographed at Red River.

Daniel Gibson is the author of New Mexico’s only comprehensive ski guidebook, SkiingNew Mexico: Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment (UNM Press, 2017). He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association and has written on the topic for newspapers coast to coast, web sites, and magazines including Powder, Ski and Wintersport Business. His first day on wooden skis with wooden edges came at age 6 in 1960 on a snowy day at the former Santa Fe Ski Basin. He can be reached at [email protected] or via


This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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