Welcome to Summer???

Today is the first day of Summer and while it was good to see the sun shining bright, we’re having a hard time putting Winter behind us here at Brundage Mountain.

We are just 9 days away from our summer grand opening, and we still have several feet of snow on the upper mountain.

There’s not too much snow visible right away in the base area…

and the grass is even starting to turn green right by the lodge.

But if you focus on the upper slopes, you’ll notice an unusual amount of white. Our Mountain Manager, Rob, offered to take me on a tour around the mountain today so I could document this rare summer snowpack.

We started out by heading up Alpine (the top terminal of the Bear Chair is over there on the right), which was equal parts dirt and snow.

By the time we reached the saddle, the bare spots were disappearing.

Here, you see Sidewinder merging with Alpine and it’s obvious the snow is much deeper.

This tree well off to the side of the run is barely showing dirt and the surrounding snow is easily 3 feet deep.

I’ve never seen Aspen trees blossoming in the middle of a snowfield.

But the novelty and beauty of this late-season snow is not doing our mountain bike trails any favors. This is where the upper part of our main bike trail, Elk Trail, intersects Alpine. The trail is 3-4 feet below the snow surface.

The snow is even deeper as we reach the summit.

This is where we unload the BlueBird Quad for scenic lift rides and mountain biking. Rob has started clearing this area so it will melt off and allow foot traffic to unload here starting June 30th. (That’s our Summer Chairlift Grand Opening, when you can get a ride up here for free. Check it out).

Rob is standing on 2-3 feet of plowed, compacted snow and he’s about 6 feet tall.

Overall, there’s about 4-6 feet of snow up on the top of the mountain. Even our long time employees can’t recall ever seeing this much snow up here this late in the season.

That’s why we’re excited that our guests can come up and enjoy views like these…

Complete with snow-capped mountains in the background!

From the top of the Blue Bird, we headed across the summit area toward the top of the Centennial chairlift.

I think this is my favorite photo of the day.It really shows how deep the snow is.

That’s Payette Lake and Long Valley to the South.

This view, to the Southeast, shows Upper Payette Lake.

Looking back to the North, you can see an amazing amount of snow still topping Granite Mountain.

These will be great photo opps for our visitors, at least those who wear warm, sturdy boots that are appropriate for tromping through the snow. This is no place for flip-flops, so if you’ll be joining us over the Fourth of July weekend, please keep that in mind.

Enough of the lecture, now back to our tour. We next headed down Temptation from the summit. That’s the top of the Lakeview Lift over to the left.

You can see there’s little sign of melting at this elevation.

The Lakeview runs (Springboard and Hot Shot) are just to the left of this big snow mound.

And this is where Elk Trail (summer) intersects Temptation (winter). As you can see, there are SEVERAL feet of snow remaining, even in areas that are exposed to a lot of sunshine. This is our main bike trail. We estimate of the 7 miles of Elk Trail, one mile is clear of snow at this point.

After checking that out, we headed farther down Temptation, over to  Dropline for one of my favorite views of Payette Lake.

Even these south-facing slopes are still packed with snow at this level.

The sun has successfully penetrated this portion of “Zorro” – one of our more challenging mountain bike trails.

We have to descend a few hundred feet to find more bare spots. This is Temptation saddle. Looking back up the ski run, you can see the south-facing slope to the right has melted away, but spinning around and looking downhill…we found pretty solid coverage.

Here are some shots from a couple of other places you might recognize:

This is near the top of Engen. You can just see the Centennial lift tower in the background.

Check out the difference looking up from the bottom of Engen.

This view is from mid-way down Alpine, looking at the Bears Den (top of the Bear Chair). More brown spots here.

And my favorite comparison is this shot, taken from the base area today:

Compared to this shot, taken exactly a week ago:

A lot of snow can melt away in a short period of time.

We estimate we’re about 3-4 weeks away from a full mountain melt-off.  We will be opening our mountain bike trails as soon as we possibly can. But for opening weekend and until further notice, we’ll be offering scenic lift rides only. More info. We’ll keep you posted on trail conditions here on the SnowBlog and also on our Facebook page.

I hope you enjoyed this photo tour and that you’ll come check it out for yourselves. As stubborn as the snow appears to be right now, it won’t last forever.

So we invite you to come grab some family photos and celebrate the beginning of summer in a truly unique way.

- April

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