Not-So-Tropical Depression

120809As we head in to our seventh day of single-digit and sub-zero temperatures, many of us are wondering when Mother Nature will give it a rest!

Hearty mountain folk are accustomed to cold weather, but it’s incredibly depressing when it’s this cold, for this long, and there is not enough snow to start skiing. Ever the optimist, I’ve been scouring the different forecasts for the best outlook as I watch my snow-loving brethren plunge into depression. (Yes, your Facebook status updates give you away, my friends.)

Alas, there is some hope in this weekend’s forecast, and we truly are in better shape here at Brundage Mountain than we were at this point last year. So, restless natives, indulge me as I attempt to look on the bright side…

First off – the forecast. Those percentages next to the pretty snow icons are growing larger…especially starting Saturday night.

Second, we have significantly more snow on the mountain than we did this time last year, so we are ‘closer’ to the holy grail of an acceptable snow base.

120809.4Third, this insanely cold weather has, so far, prevented that base from melting, AND it’s given our skillful mountain crews an opportunity to do some impressive prep-work on the slopes.

So please, wipe away the tears so you can read the official status update:

The winch cat that we invested in last year has done wonders for our pre-season preparations. Because of its unique ability to climb steep slopes, our ever-vigilant mountain crews have managed to track-pack all of our primary runs, with the exception of Main Street, Engen, Bear and the very top of Alpine. 120809.1What is track packing? Track packing is when we run the SnoCat over the slope without engaging the grooming blades.


Why track pack? First of all, it squishes down the existing snow into a more compact, consolidated base layer. That prevents melting and keeps the surface snow from blowing away to some degree. Second, we have a nifty tool we connect to the winch cat, which we call a ‘flail mower’. This apparatus allows us to mow down whatever brush is left on the slopes after our summer mowing.

120809.5So far, we’ve used the mower on North, middle-Alpine, Beeline, Race Course, 45th Parallel and Dropline.

Here’s a close-up of what a slope looks like after it’s been mowed.

120809.2As you can see, we still need a bit more snow to cover the remains of the brush. BUT, if you look to the left side of this next photo, you can see how tall the brush was before mowing. It’s easy to see how much LESS snow we need to cover the slopes now.

120809.3So now, you’re probably wondering why we didn’t try this track-packing-flail-mowing magic trick on Main Street, Engen and Upper Alpine. Unfortunately, those slopes have suffered more wind effects than the others. A lot of the snow that fell was blasted right off those open faces, so what’s left is not deep enough to support a SnoCat just yet. As for Bear, it gets a lot of sun and has seen more melt-off than the rest of our major slopes.

But rest assured, we are on the case and ready to spring into action just as soon as that next blast of snow comes our way. So before you give up hope, remember, we’ve definitely had it worse. Besides, those tears of sorrow will just freeze your eyelashes together anyway.

– April


    • says

      Hi Jake!
      From where we stand right now, we need at least 12 inches of fresh snow. If we lost some of our current base to melting, we would need a bit more. I sure wish I knew when that next 12 inches was coming, but without psychic powers, we just have to wait and see.

  1. Tim C. says

    I am VERY impressed April with the diligence and maximizing of what Brundage DOES have. It really will not take much more to get us up and running.It really is snow farming!!

    • says

      Thanks, Tim! We appreciate the feedback. Of course, we are at nature’s mercy when it comes to the amount of snowfall, but we’ve figured out a few tricks to make the most of our situation. Hopefully that next blast of snow will be here soon!

  2. Will says

    I am headed to the warmer clime of Santa Cruz. Hopefully, when I return on Tuesday, the slopes will be open!!!!! School is out and I have a month off!

  3. Chris Brown says

    Maybe Brundage could get a good deal on some used snowmaking equipment from Tamarack. Early season skiing every year..

    • says

      Hi Chris!
      With the late snowfall this year and last year, there’s been a lot of talk about snowmaking. While we have no reason to believe that Tamarack is interested in selling its assets, we have certainly considered investing in snowmaking. The biggest obstacle there is obviously the expense. Industry reports estimate it costs $60,000 to install snowmaking equipment ON ONE RUN. That’s just the initial investment. Operating snowmaking equipment can amount to 50% of a ski area’s total operating costs. We’ve done the math, and at this point, we feel our visitors would rather have affordable passes and lift tickets than to pay twice the cost for the benefits of snowmaking. Thanks for taking the time to write in with your suggestions – we are always looking for new ideas and options!

  4. TabascosGirl says

    Please, please, please, please let it snow! I’ve been a really good girl this year… well, OK, not really, but I’m really sorry… if only it would snow!

  5. Brendan says

    I also wish it wouild snow!! But apart from that i would really love Brundage to have a better terrain park!! With Tamarack out of business so far this winter It would really do Brundage some good to put up, and invest in a larger better park! I love the Pow at Brundage (when ever it finaly gets here) but it needs more appeal to the younger, and more adventurous group. And a REAL park would do that, not the normal 2 jumps 2 rails Brundage puts up. PLEASE Brundage!! I’ll Pray for Snow if ya do!! Well actually I’ll probably do that anyway. Im tired of looking at my Season pass sitting on my desk…

    • says

      Hi Brendan –
      We are planning to expand our terrain park this year. In addition to the beginner park on Griz and the park on Lower Rodeo, we’re planning to put terrain features on Upper Rodeo, just as soon as we get enough snow to build them. We also have a new park crew hired to maintain the parks regularly, so as long as Mother Nature cooperates, you should have more features to choose from this season. Thanks for your input, we always love to hear from our enthusiastic visitors!

  6. rob says

    im getting my jones on to hit the slopes very soon. This is the first time in 32 years of skiing that i havent hit the slopes the week after thanksgiving :( . I might have to hit Targhee or SV if it doesnt happen soon.

  7. WILL G says

    i went and did me a couple laps in my corral on our 2 inches and im super pumped! build it and they will come…but they will come anyways

    • says

      Hi Jacob –
      Every inch that’s falling gets us closer to that goal. Our mountain crews will be out assessing the slope conditions on Monday to see where we are after this weekend’s storms. It also looks like there is some snow in the forecast this week, so lets keep our fingers crossed, we are getting very close!

  8. An economy skier says

    Glad to hear to hear the Brundage is considering the economics of the clientele in the decision, at this point in time, to NOT invest in snowmaking equipment. Let’s keep the costs at a level that a broader range of folks can afford. Thanks!

  9. Shane Elliott says

    hey april the new additoins to the terrain park sound bigger and better so i cant wait to hit the new features. all we need is some more snow. if the conditions are good are you planning to open some time next week

    • says

      Hi Shane!
      We plan to open as soon as we get enough snowfall, and the forecast is looking encouraging for this weekend and the rest of the week. We still have not hit that ‘magic’ number, but keep checking back here on the website, we would like to get open as soon as possible so everyone can spend their holidays up here!

  10. says

    Wow! Great work. I was getting worried as the family and I are flying out from Atlanta, GA to ski your beautiful mountain after Christmas. Being a southerner, I had no idea about all the prep work that happens. With all ya’lls work and a little luck, I beleive we are going to have a wonderful time! Great Job!!!

  11. Brudage Fan says

    Everyone it’s time to do your snow dance. I think RC should lead one and it should be posted on the main page. Snow SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW

  12. Diane Janzen says

    Thanks so much for your communication and updates as well as the new stuff – extra mowing and packing the snow down. Waiting and praying for much new snow for the area. Looking forward to another great year of skiing and my husband and I agree that if making snow is so costly – lets keep our Brundage mountain open to more people and families. Take care April and the rest of the staff and hope to see you all soon!

    • says

      Thank you ALL for taking the time to comment. Our team works hard to do the best we can and balance the different needs and desires of our visitors. It looks like Mother Nature may be cooperating this week, so stay positive!

  13. Shane Elliott says

    you post it i’ll dance it. Everything helps. I’ll do watever it takes because I plan to snowboard 8 days after christmas.

    • says

      Hi Brandon –
      We’re not ready to announce an opening just yet, but we are in the middle of a storm right now, so be sure to check back tomorrow to see if anything’s changed. We’re still 12 days away from your visit, so there’s plenty of time for more snow to come our way!

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