A quick glance at my skinning logs show October 15th as the normal first ski day in Thompson Pass. I used to get first tracks(and last!) all the time, but now it’s rare with so many skiers living in and around Valdez. Sometimes it comes earlier, like a memorable day powder skiing on the Loveland on October 4, 2013. As our climate changes one has to wonder what this coming winter has in store for Valdez. After last year debacle below 2000 feet, we still had superb condition at higher elevations. Perhaps the biggest tell-tale of disappointment for some was the Road Run, which never got enough snow to ski.
But in recent years we have seen the 2nd most snow in history, the Damalanche, followed the next season with the deepest snowpack in history. This was followed with last season’s lowest snowfall in history. Blended in to these seasonal extremes if the current “drought” following last years record low total precipitation. We are still well below normal for 2015. Despite the up and down snowpacks, Valdez should continue it’s long history of being the first skiable terrain in Alaska each fall and the latest in spring.
Currently the high Chugach around Valdez has a good dusting from the remnants of Typhoon Kilo which moved over Southcentral Alaska during the past few days. Weather models indicate a 10-day dry period ahead with temps nearing freezing near morning along with brisk northwesterlles to 30 in gaps and mostly clear. While not good in the short-term, I try not to focus about the thrill of early season skiing til mid-October. In the meantime preseason conditioning has not been ignored, as I’ve been preparing for the great winter ahead since August 1 which is as traditional as fall’s terminal snows Anything earlier is more proof that residency has it’s advantages!