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TRIP: Mystery Ski Adventure

What if you could embark on a journey following elusive snowfall across multiple regions, skiing fresh powder daily? Would you be up for it? and the Mountain Collective have teamed up to offer you just that with the Mystery Ski Adventure. 

Starting on February 6th, embark on a 5 day / 4 night powder quest beginning in Aspen, Colorado. Kickoff the weekend at the Limelight Hotel Friday evening, enjoying fine food and beverages. Spend two days experiencing unprecedented access to Aspen Snowmass’ terrain. While you hit the steeps and deeps with a professional ski host, the team here at OpenSnow will keep a close eye on the snow forecast. 

At the end of your two days in Aspen, NextGreatTrip will transport you aboard a private jet to the Mountain Collective destination with the best snow conditions. The next two days will be spent skiing in the best available conditions with your ski host. At the end of your four-day powder paradise, NextGreatTrip will fly you back to Aspen. 

Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Here are the nitty-gritty details....

Each Mountain Collective guest will receive:

  • Round trip charter flights between Aspen Snowmass and the mystery destination, with an option to continue on to Denver (Centennial Airport)

  • Mountain Collective Pass, valid for the 2014-2015 season

  • Four nights of lodging - two in Aspen Snowmass, two in the mystery ski town

  • Entertainment and exclusive insight from trip host & professional skier

  • Unprecedented access to the slopes - first chair each morning

  • VIP party in Aspen on Friday night, February 6th

  • Complimentary breakfast each morning

  • Complimentary in-flight drinks and appetizers

  • Ground transportation between the airport and hotel within each destination

Complete "Mystery" Itinerary: 

Besides Aspen Snowmass, here are the possible Mountain Collective "Mystery" Locations: 

  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming - Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa

  • Alta/Snowbird, Utah - The Cliff Lodge & Spa

  • Mammoth Mountain, California - The Village Lodge

  • Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows - Resort at Squaw Creek

Come February, this is where you'll want to be. The team here at OpenSnow will have the hand-crafted powder forecasts, NextGreatTrip will provide the flights, and the Mountain Collective will serve up a first-class mountain experience. I mean, why wouldn't you just go for it?

Further details and pricing:

Sam Collentine | OpenSnow

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PODCAST: Joel on MTNmeister

Our Founder and Colorado Meteorologist, Joel Gratz, recently sat down for a podcast with Ben Schenck of He discusses everything from how was started, the gear that he uses on the mountain, to a forecast that still stumps Joel to this day. Something he calls the "Steamboat Surprise". 

Sam Collentine | OpenSnow

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VIDEO: Salomon Freeski TV, CMH Dreamland

In episode 2 of Salomon Freeski TV's 8th season, Mike, Cody and Alexi spend a week with Canadian Mountain Holidays, the longest running heliski operation in the world. They claim to have the "World's Greatest Skiing". Is this claim true? 

Watch and decide. Better yet, you should probably just go and experience it for yourself. 

Sam Collentine | OpenSnow

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CONNECTION: The Arctic Oscillation

One of our favorite weather blogs that we love to follow here at OpenSnow is the Wasatch Weather Weenies. The Wasatch Weather Weenies discuss the weather and climate of the Wasatch Front and Mountains in Utah, western United States, and beyond.

Participants include aspiring and old-school atmospheric scientists, weather enthusiasts, powder snobs, and poor souls enrolled in classes taught by University of Utah Atmospheric Sciences Professor Jim Steenburgh. Many posts feature content or insights enabled by the support of the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the NOAA/National Weather Service. 

Yesterday featured a blog post about one of the most important large scale modes of climate variability, the Arctic Oscillation. In a definition taken directly from the National Climate Data Center, the AO is a climate pattern characterized by winds circulating counterclockwise around the Arctic at around 55°N latitude. When the AO is in its positive phase, a ring of strong winds (the jet stream) circulating around the North Pole acts to confine colder air across polar regions ("bottling-up"). This belt of winds (the jet stream) becomes weaker and more distorted in the negative phase of the AO, which allows an easier southward penetration of colder, arctic airmasses and increased storminess into the mid-latitudes ("buckling").

Source: NOAA

The author of yesterday's blog post, Peter Veals, decided to take a brief look at the Arctic Oscillation Index and its potential impact on monthly snowfall in the Wasatch of Utah. Peter looked at the correlation of the monthly mean AO Index and monthly snowfall at the Snowbird SNOTEL site. He plotted the the AO Index versus total monthly SWE (snow water equivalent) at Snowbird for the period 1991-2014. The red line is the best fit line or the line that best represents the data on a scatter plot.

Source: Wasatch Weather Weenies

Peter's results were not encouraging. Below are the R-squared values for each month. A value of 1 would indicate a perfect fit for the line of best fit. 

November: 0.03

December: 0.16

January: 0.01

February: 0.12

March: 0.00

April: 0.16

In other words, the AO Index has no correlation to snowfall at Snowbird in November, January, and March, and a very slight correlation for the rest of the winter. So as you can see, the AO overall is not of much use for predicting snowfall in the Wasatch on the monthly scale.

Peter went onto explain that medium-range weather forecasting (out to 10 days) has become increasingly skilled in the computer age, seasonal prediction is still in its infancy. Also, the Arctic Oscillation is calculated over the entire Northern Hemisphere, and there are other climatic oscillations such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that capture more of the conditions that impact western North America. 

As you can see below in the observed & ensemble mean forecasts, the Arctic Oscillation is currently in the negative phase but is trending towards the positive phase. 

Source: NOAA - Climate Prediction Center

Will the forecast hold and keep colder arctic airmasses and increased storminess "bottled-up"? Remember, this is only one teleconnection and for the Wasatch of Utah, it's a weak one at that. 

Sam Collentine | OpenSnow

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OPEN: Arapahoe Basin

This weekend kicked off North America's 2014-2015 ski season as Arapahoe Basin opened on Friday. 

On Wednesday Arapahoe Basin sent out a press release with the news of the opening. “Conditions have been outstanding for snowmaking and we are very excited to open this Friday,” said Alan Henceroth, A-Basin’s Chief Operating Officer. A-Basin’s mountain operations team started making snow on October 2, 2014, and they were able to create the 18-inch base necessary for opening over the course of several days. The ski area also received about a foot of natural snow in the weeks prior to opening.

I got the chance to get up to A-Basin on Saturday to catch a few turns and to chat with their Chief Operating Officer, Alan Henceroth. 

While standing outside Guest Services under sunny skies and with a great look at High Noon, I could tell that Alan was chopped full of excitement. When I asked him how they were able to open ahead of their counterpart, Loveland Ski Area, all he had was praise for A-Basin's snowmaking team. "We were able to take advantage of last weekend's ideal temperatures to maintain continous snowmaking from Saturday night through Monday night with only a slight break on Monday afternoon."

When asked if he was concerned about the mostly warm and dry extended outlook, he maintained that they will do all they can to keep High Noon under skiable conditions and the snowmaking team will jump on the opportunity to make snow when they can. I thanked Alan for taking the time to talk with me and headed over to jump in line for the Black Mountain Express. 

Excitement, that's all you could feel when standing in line. It seemed like just yesterday when I skiied my last runs of the 2013-2014 season on May 14th. To my surprise, the line moved very quickly and after 10 or so minutes we were headed up the mountain. With my cousin to my right and two beginners from Missouri to my left, it was all smiles as we rode the chair to the mid-mountain drop off adjecent to the Black Mountain Lodge.


After a quick picture, my cousin and I buckled in and took off down the "white ribbon of death." The snow was what you would expect for it being 12:30 P.M. in mid-October, creamy on top and a sheet of ice underneath. It's not like anyone cared though, it's mid-October! We made our way down and immediately got in line for another. 

Just being on the mountain this early in the Fall is all any skier or snowboarder can ask for. My cousin and I reminisced about last season and can only hope that this season comes even close. After finishing our second run, my cousin and I contemplated calling it a day. We both looked at each other and agreed on the old saying, "two more, skip the last."

Sam Collentine | OpenSnow

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