It’s been a spectacular week of snowfall in the country of champagne powder.
The first storm last Monday dropped 5 to 10 inches on the northern and central peaks and 10 to 20 inches or more on the southern peaks. Wednesday’s second storm threw double-digit snow on top of it, and his third on Friday iced up snowbanks, leaving some ski areas with four feet of fresh powder in his week. was left. Wolf Creek had a reading of 5.
After a week like this, it’s clear there’s no better place in the world to ski than Colorado.
Still, some people blaspheme that skiing in Utah is better than the bounty of Colorado. Some even do.
So this week I sought out a professional meteorologist to attempt to solve the question once and for all. Which skis better, Colorado or Utah?
I went straight to the belly of the beast first and called the Doctor of Snow himself, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Jim Steenberg, who wrote the book The Biggest Snow Secret on Earth. The problem is what he wrote about Utah.
“There are two reasons why Utah’s snow quality is so good: 1. The amount of snow, and 2. We have more powder days,” Steenburgh told me.
“Better here means better for deep powder skiing, which for many is the pinnacle of skiing,” Steenberg explains. “Utah’s reputation for powder snow is largely based on the remarkable microclimate of Cottonwood He Canyon, home to the ski resorts of Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton.”
One of Steenberg’s criteria for judging Utah over Colorado is the amount of snow.
“Alta averages 500 inches of snowfall per year and at least 10 inches of snowfall for 18 days in a season. Ten inches is the minimum amount of powder needed to be bottomless. Many resorts in Colorado. With an average annual snowfall of less than 300 inches, there are only a handful of truly deep powder days.”
It sounds like it’s always snowing in Utah, but that takes away much of one of the sport’s great joys: skiing in the spring.
It also reminded Steenberg that Colorado has twice as many ski areas as Utah. Doesn’t the sheer amount of skiing experience give Colorado skiers the chance to find great snow on any given ski day? Isn’t it useful for
“No,” he replied bluntly. “There is less snow in Colorado, regardless of elevation. Colorado’s resorts are also denser, so you could travel from Summit County to Aspen, for example, but you’d have more distance to cover (and Colorado and Utah Both states have problems with ski traffic.”
On his OpenSnow blog, Boulder meteorologist Joel Gratz counters that if an area of Colorado doesn’t get a lot of snow over the weekend, you can just move it. “I love Colorado because different parts of our state are favored by each Storm his truck,” he wrote Gratz. “For example, if a storm is heading south and past the mountains in the north, you can still drive for a few hours and ski in the deep snow of the mountains in the south. In short, he told me. , “Snowfall favors parts of Utah. Variety of terrain and ski towns favor Colorado.”
Snow is a kind of subjective alchemy. Of course, the perfect combination of cold, water and air will differ from skier to skier. But Glatz argues that Colorado’s higher elevation is actually a big advantage over Utah.
“Most of Colorado’s best ski areas are located between 8,000 and 12,000 feet above sea level,” he wrote. “This means it has a higher elevation than other parts of the western United States, western Canada, and much of Europe. We can let snow fall early to open up the terrain, and the snow can linger long into the spring.”
Colorado’s high altitude also means that the Colorado ski resorts have long runs. “Many of the larger resorts stretch about 3,000 feet vertically from top to bottom,” Gratz said.
He also points out that the higher elevations make the snow fluffier. “Generally, the colder the air, the more likely it is that air will help produce fluffy, light snow. But he thinks the overall snow quality between the two states is probably more appealing. Snow in Utah and Colorado is about the same: it can be very fluffy, it can be dense, and most of the time it’s good quality somewhere in between.”
Here, the Salt Lake City Tribune recently compared skiing in Colorado and Utah point-by-point, comparing size, access, season length, elevation, off-slope experience, total snow cover, snow quality, and X factor. The Tribune itself concluded that Colorado was the winner, with the following caveat.
But no matter how you take part in this smackdown, even Dr. Snow himself admits that the future (thanks to climate change) probably belongs to Colorado.
“We’re going to have another great ski season, but global warming will have a major impact on winter warming, and much of the winter precipitation will fall as rain,” Steenberg said. Global warming is not an equal opportunity criminal. The reduction in snowfall and snow cover is greater in warmer, lower-elevation regions and less in colder, higher-elevation regions. So I think the highest elevation resorts in Utah and Colorado, especially places like Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, and Breckenridge, do better than lower elevation resorts in other regions, for example. “
In other words, Colorado’s high altitude means that skiing here can survive even if warming starts to stop skiing elsewhere, as is happening in Europe this season. am. One day in the distant future, if the worst predictions are correct, Colorado may be the only state in America where you can ski.
Put it in your pipe and smoke it, Utah.