Ski Blog... Been doing this since 2005!

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September 27, 2005

Snow Making at Snowbowl, AZ Update

Snowbowl in Arizona is being sued by the Sierra Club and several local Indian tribes over their plans to install snowmaking equipment to ensure a more consistent operating season. Because the snowmaking will use reclaimed waste water after it is properly treated, local tribes have compared spreading waste water on their sacred San Francisco peaks to flushing the Koran down the toilet.

Snowbowl is located just outside of Flagstaff, about two hours north of Phoenix. Flagstaff is home of Northern Arizona University, so Snowbowl tends to be filled with college kids on weekends. The project will enlarge the resort and provide some much needed enhancements.

The suit is scheduled to be heard in October. More details to come as the suit progresses.

Posted by Justin at 11:42 AM

September 26, 2005


It is about time to start the preparations for the upcoming season. I am slowly building my supplies up?which certainly includes building up the playlist for my new iPod.

Last week, I snuck out of work early on Thursday to head to the condo and start preparing the residence. Spending the 20+ hours last week that I did in my truck reminded me of midnight drives on icy roads to get to the slopes and be the first on the lift. I packed up the sleeping bag and slept at the base of Brian Head since the condo is torn apart. Many a night have we spent slumming it in the parking lot of a resort.

A few ideas for you from a seasoned traveler on items that you may want to keep around for the trip. First, though is having the right rig for the trip?especially if you drive any major distance. My Chevy Avalanche?s 4x4 works great and the heated leather seats warm up the backside after a rough day on the slopes.

My basic gear list

  • Sleeping bags? Just in case the roads are closed or hotels are full. Or in case you want to extend the trip that extra day or two. Plus they come in handy when three of you split a hotel room with only two beds. You guys get the cot this time?

  • iPod or other MP3 Player?And rip the CD collection.

  • Sirius Satellite Radio?Never miss an NFL playoff game again.
  • Motorola handheld radios with external mic/speakers? for taunting your buddies as they try to pick up their hats, skis, and poles halfway up the mountain after going yardsale? or for calling your buddies to tell them to pick up your ski if you were leading the pack.
  • DVD Player and car charger

  • Warren Miller videos for the trip

  • Garmin GPS

  • An assortment of pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories, plus a well stocked emergency kit.

  • Sunscreen, lip balm, etc.

  • Avalanche beacons, etc. for backcountry skiing

  • Oh yeah, and always prep the car for winter driving -- Keep blankets, flares, water, etc. on hand. Winter driving is dangerous as evidenced by the cow that I hit at 2 AM on my way to Wolf Creek last March.

And most important? Don't forget the damn key to the ski rack or the condo.

Posted by Justin at 12:02 AM | Comments (2)

September 18, 2005

Early Season Travel Plans - Big Sky, Montana

The last couple of seasons, Big Sky has done something unique with their sky reports. They have a special entry at the bottom called "The Way I Ski It" that evolved out of a need by their PR Manager, Dax Schieffer, to convey some of the early season conditions that were not really reflected by the basic ski report. Dax writes a daily entry at the bottom of the report describing what the mountain is actually like, not simply New Snow, Base, Percent Open like most resorts.

Like a high school sophomore, I kinda stole Dax's idea. My English teacher warned me that "borrowing" from the hard work of others will get me an F, so first and foremost, shout out to Dax for having a great idea at Big Sky. I took your idea, much like my ex-girlfriend's high school chemistry notebook (a story that we won't go into for sake of ripping the scab off of a closed wound), and changed a line or two and called it my own. But let's talk about Big Sky because it is well worth talking about.

First off, Big Sky is about 45 minutes from Bozeman, the home of Montana State University. Big Sky has two other resorts that share the same general area--Moonlight Basin, that offers a combined ski pass opening up obscene acres and insane skiing, and the Yellowstone Club that is so exclusive, I should not even be allowed to write about it. Details about Moonlight and Big Sky now offering an interconnect and shared pass are still being worked out, but Lone Peak makes frequent appearances in Warren Miller movies and the area offers some of the best steeps and deeps in the country. 400" of snowfall does not hurt.

As Dax said, "TWISI" was written because the resort is massive and during the early season, you can miss some of the best parts of the resort if you don't know where you are headed. I have spent several days at Big Sky and still have only skied the Lone Peak runs. Now with Moonlight and the interconnect, the Big Sky-Moonlight area becomes one of the largest in the country.

I went to college in Billings, about 120 miles east of Bozeman, and go home to see Mom over Thanksgiving. Big Sky offers a "frequency pass" that let's you ski the entire week after Thanksgiving for the price of the pass or about $50. We usually spend at least 2-3 days at Big Sky when we go up and it is awesome. Last year they were only 40% open or so, but the 40% was spectacular.

Dax generously offered to let me "interview" him about "TWISI", which is my code for, "Let's spend a day finding the hidden powder stashes that only a local knows". Look for my series of articles about Big Sky and Moonlight coming in Late November or Early December. Forget turkey and family time with Mom. She figured out why I am suddenly so focused on spending time with family in the winter. If you have never skied Big Sky, you have no idea what you are missing.

Posted by Justin at 12:10 PM

September 13, 2005

Early Season Skiing--start getting out the wax

Leaves start falling and gear prices start rising this time of year. The middle of September brings out the annual season pass sales at most resorts.

With only six or seven weeks left before opening, I am making preparations for the Annual season kickoff trip to Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek usually is among the first resorts in the nation to open in late October or early November. On a good year, a pre-Halloween opening is not unheard of.

During November, I will be profiling several of the Rocky Mountain resorts in Colorado and Utah for the upcoming year. Of course, Mother Nature needs to cooperate, so here's hoping that the snow falls early and often.

Start getting out the wax.

Posted by Justin at 11:09 AM

September 10, 2005

Kids Season Pass Give-away at Sunrise, AZ

Sunrise in Arizona is offering free season passes to kids who take a lift ride and bring a toy for the Christmas toy drive. Sunrise is the largest resort in Arizona and roughly three and a half hours east of Phoenix. We usually drive up to see the leaves change colors, which is amazing and exciting for us Phoenix folks, and grab the kids a pass for the half a dozen days we go up to Sunrise.

Last year had record storms in the Southwest that dumped on Arizona, Southern Colorado, California, and Utah, but left the northern resorts like Whistler and most of Washington and Oregon only partially open. The single biggest drawback of Sunrise is the short season and snow conditions early and late in the season. But during January, February and sometimes early March, when the storms start coming, the skiing is more than adequate, and on several days last year, I had the mountain to myself after weekday dumps of over 12". I love the White Mountains of Arizona, so I am willing to tolerate the 20 minute drive into Pinetop for food and drinks after a day of skiing.

If you live in the area, Phoenix, or Tucson, it is well worth going up on either October 1st or 2nd and getting the free pass. Check it out at

Posted by Justin at 04:54 PM

September 08, 2005

New Site Design in Place

Joni Mueller at Web Jones has been working to give the site a consistent look and feel as well as improve the design and graphics of the site. I will leave it to those of you that saw the old site to compare the two and make your own decision on if she did a good job.

Joni added some new features as well as updated some of the gallery software we were using. The Gallery is now located at or alternatively you can access it at I have more pictures that are coming and will be traveling to Brian Head shortly to close on the condo as well as do some work to the condo to get it in prime condition for the upcoming season.

In the meantime, enjoy the new site and I am going to start posting more frequently as we get close to the start of the season. Here's hoping for Halloween at Wolf Creek and an early start to the 2005-2006 year.

Posted by Justin at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)