Thursday, January 19, 2012

Enjoy the new snow! Finally!!! Watch out for avalanche danger in the backcountry

2 feet of new snow in 2 days at Brundage Mountain. Woo hoo! (Courtesy

The whole NW region is getting hammered with precip. Bring it! (Courtesy NOAA)
Hi all,

Well, that bullet-proof ridge of high pressure that prevented any storms from hitting the Pacific Northwest for 6+ weeks is finally gone, and now we can go play in the snow. Yay!

My message this week is "enjoy the snow" with a few words of caution, and I've got a reminder below about the Jan. 31 deadline for river permits.

Because we've been getting hit with so much snow in such a short amount of time, please be aware that skiing in the backcountry is VERY HAZARDOUS right now. Here's a link to the Payette Avalanche Center with their latest forecast, which indicates that the avalanche danger is currently "high," and expected to get worse. More than 30 inches of snow has fallen in the high country in the last three days, with a ton more coming.

No matter what, be sure to pack an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe if you venture into the backcountry. And know how to use those tools!

I would recommend skiing or riding at an established resort in the next few days for the safest conditions. Bogus Basin has opened the front side of the mountain, and as more snow falls, watch for the backside to open soon. Can't wait to try the new Superior quad! Brundage Mountain has been getting hit with tons of powder, and so has Tamarack. Sun Valley hasn't received quite as much snow as the west-central mountains, but I'm sure the skiing there is fabulous as well.

The Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas also are getting hammered with snow. Snow depths were well over 30 inches as of Thursday morning, Jan. 19. Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation officials recommend trying the Gold Fork and Banner Ridge ski and snowshoe trails this weekend. The groomer has been working around the clock on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. IDPR recommends that you call the grooming hotline to get the latest conditions. Call 208-514-2423.

Try to stick to the groomed trails or at least the trails that have been groomed most recently for the best conditions at the Park n' Ski areas. Off-trail snowshoeing will be REALLY deep and challenging. Stay off steep slopes to avoid avalanche danger.

IDPR officials recommend that you bring a snow shovel for digging out your vehicle in case you get stuck or the vehicle get smothered with snow while you're out having fun. Also, be sure to drive a 4WD vehicle if you go to one of the Park n' Ski areas. You'll get stuck otherwise, and it won't be pretty.

Enjoy the snow!

Here's a reminder about river permits -- they're due on Jan. 31. If you'd like to apply for a private permit to run Hells Canyon, the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Main Salmon or the Selway River, you need to apply through Get a group of your friends together and apply for similar dates at a time when you can take a vacation on an Idaho river.

It costs $6 to apply. You'll find out in late February whether you were successful. If you are lucky enough to draw a permit, you'll be the most popular person in your circle of friends. Use that leverage for all it's worth! :)

If you'd rather go on a guided raft trip with an outfitter, see the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association web site to look into that possibility. Idaho has many wonderful outfitters and guides who can take you on a trip of a lifetime.

Have fun!

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