Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ski Utah. The Greatest Snow on Earth

The western edge of the Rocky Mountains, the Wasatch Range towers over Utah's Great Salt Lake and the vast desert basin beyond, create an ultimate playground for powder addicts. Utah's self-proclaimed "greatest snow on Earth" is not only a slogan. With an average of 500 inches (12,7 metres) of the planet's lightest and driest powder annually (the 2008-09 Season was fantastic in Utah with over 600 inches/15,24 metres), the claim is back up with some geographic facts:
  • Winter trade winds push clouds full of moisture east from the Pacific Ocean, across California and Nevada and to Utah. As the clouds move across the desert, the heat bakes out much of their moisture. When the clouds meet Utah’s Rocky Mountains, the remaining moisture rapidly cools and condenses, and precipitation hits our Utah ski resort terrain with a "mother lode" of deep, white powder snow that’s particularly light and dry.
  • There’s another weather element that feeds Utah’s love affair with the white stuff. TV station News 4 Utah’s Chief Meteorologist Dan Pope says, "We have something that no other ski location in the world has - The Great Salt Lake Effect. Often the Great Salt Lake is much warmer than the bitter cold air following a cold front. The lake releases water into the air that then rises into clouds of snow, producing squalls on its eastern flanks. These squalls contain some of the world’s lightest, fluffiest and driest snow ever produced, and it falls in feet – not inches – on our Wasatch Mountains". As clouds draw moisture up from the Great Salt Lake, they "recycle" themselves for several days in the surrounding mountains. Utah ski enthusiasts often get a "one-two" (or a "three-four") punch of powder, causing many local employees to call in sick with the "powder flu". Editor in Chief of Skiing Magazine, Marc Peruzzi , simply stated, "That is why we test fat skis in Utah".

Home to 13 world-class alpine ski resorts, Utah can't be beat for its terrain and consistency of the lightest, deepest powder around. From the rugged powder choked steeps of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, home to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude, to the immaculately manicured slopes of Park City, where you can find Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, and The Canyons, Utah has it all.