After 17 days of waiting past the scheduled opening date, Monarch opened yesterday. We went from zero percent open trails to enough snow for 100 percent open trails all at once. We got so much snow it was ridicules. I believe yesterday we were reporting over 60 inches at mid-mountain. That’s five feet! The level of excitement was pretty high. Everyone was hootin‘ and holerin‘. I was one of the crowd that took the Tumbelina chair first, heading for the Panorama chair. We often ski down a short blue run called B-Line to get to the Pano chair. As of yesterday morning it still had not been groomed. The snow was so deep we could hardly get down it. I think one of the funniest sites I’ve ever seen at Monarch was looking back up B-Line and seeing so many people up near the top wallowing around in the snow trying to get back up. Everyone was so excited to get to ski deep powder, and yet so many were having such a hard time just trying to get down the hill! My first run of the season at Monarch was High Anxiety. It’s one of our steeper runs and usually doesn’t even open until sometime in January after we’ve had enough snow. This is the first time I’ve ever seen runs like High Anxiety, Kanonan, Lobo, Examiner all opened on the first day! I wish I could say it was great skiing down it, but in reality it was hard work putting first tracks down. The snow was so deep that we could barely make it down. Then if you fell you were likely in for an ordeal trying to get back up.
I was thinking about the class I was going to have and the unique challenges we were likely to encounter with so much snow. The Mountaineers students I was anticipating were likely to not even be as tall as the snow was deep. At first I thought I was going to have to find some florescent tape to string from their skis to make it easier to find them if they fell. But then after skiing a little bit, I knew we would not be doing any powder skiing. I’d decided we were going to pretty much stay on any groomed slopes we could find. One fall and we could be stuck on run for a long time.
Saying the amount of snowfall we just got was extreme would be putting it mildly. I was brought back to my mountaineering days and reminded of the dangers and challenges Mother Nature can throw at you. I have a renewed respect for the mountains and remember their vastness and how small we are.