In February, I rolled into the CMH Gothics expecting the worst. There was no snow on the ground in Revelstoke except for the few dirty, slushy piles left by snowplows. According to the locals it had not snowed in 3 weeks. 12 hours later we were riding powder and I was blown away. It was still good! Here'a hilarious shot I snapped that day of a skier and snowboarder getting some Gothics pow after a 3 week drought:
Three weeks later it had still not snowed any significant amount and powder was hard to find even in the Columbias. One ski guide told me she was thinking about wearing jeans for guiding. It was a weird winter. In fact, as far back as records go, 2009-2010 was the warmest winter ever in Canada.
There was some great skiing this winter. Steve Chambers, manager of CMH Revelstoke, called January 5th, “The single best day of heli-skiing I’ve ever had.” But overall, it was strangely warm and dry. Here are a few "lowlights" from the warmest winter ever:
- In BC, the weather between January 8 and February 9 set a record for the warmest of the period according to records going as far back as 1896.
- It was not only warmest winter in ski country, but also in the Arctic. Experts blame a combination of El Nino and the shrinking polar ice caps for the heat.
- Precipitation was 22 percent below average in Canada.
- Average temperature was 4 degrees C warmer than normal in Canada.
- Parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario had 60 percent less precipitation than average.
- Trucks were used to haul snow for the Olympics in Vancouver. However, statistically, Vancouver is the warmest city to ever host the winter Olympics.
- It was said that the Vancouver Olympics could "be the first winter Olympics you can attend in shorts and tees."
- After an unusual blizzard in Washington DC, a headline on the FanHouse website covering the Olympics read, “More snow in DC than BC.”
Here'a a shocking clip of a snowpack report for the Cascade Range, an area across the US border that shared our winter that didn't happen:
So, as a heli-skier or heli snowboarder, what conclusion should you draw from this winter?
If you’re a pessimist, you’ll expect things to get lots worse. In which case you'd better ski every chance you get before there is no snow at all on planet Earth.
If you’re a statistician, you’ll go skiing every chance you get because that gives you the best chance of getting good snow.
If you’re a gambler, you’ll go skiing every chance you get in December and January betting on the short days giving the best chance of the deep fluff.
If you’re a realist, you’ll go skiing every chance you get and just book your trip around your life, as always, knowing that the Columbia Mountains give you the best chance of epic powder skiing.