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‘Anticipointment’: when Mother Nature calls the shots


April Russell skis the slopes at Brundage Mountain.

April Russell skis the slopes at Brundage Mountain.

There comes a time each fall when the leaves drop to the ground, the firewood is split and the first snowflakes begin to fall. Our hearts race with dreams of an early opening day, we imagine our first powder turns of the season and ask ourselves, “Aren’t we due for one of those epic, record snowfall winters about now?”

The problem is that there is so little evidence to glean from the first few snowstorms. Ski fanatics will share all sorts of predictions based on folklore, memories and, sometimes, even based on facts. So when resort operators get the question, “What do you foresee for the coming season?” … we start to list the things we can control. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include the weather.

At Brundage Mountain, we definitely foresee a season filled with fun. It’s our 50th season and we’ve got amazing events planned to celebrate that milestone. A “Light Up the Night” party on Dec. 29 will combine live music, a torch-light parade and a fireworks show, for starters.

We foresee great excitement over our current 50 Days of Deals event, 21st Annual Brundage Winter Games, Diva Day, Pond Skimming and Crazy Days. We think people are really going to love exploring the 68 acres of newly thinned glades across the mountain and our new Children’s Terrain Garden. But those are not the predictions everyone wants to hear about.

We all want to hear that we WILL have an early opening day, that we WILL get huge quantities of powder and that the snow WILL miraculously cease every morning, revealing sunny skies and leaving 10+ inches of feather-light powder behind for our enjoyment.

No one can predict the upcoming season’s snowfall with certainty, but we do have a few important indicators that we’re pretty excited about right now.

Climatologists are telling us we are in a strong La Nina pattern. Previous La Nina winters tended to bring Northwestern states, including Idaho, 125 to 150 percent of their average snowfall, according to meteorologist Joel Gratz, First Tracks online. Even the low side of that probability equation puts Brundage at the 400-inch mark for season snowfall.

Statistics can be hard to relate to; memories, not so much. The last La Nina winter was 2007-2008, which was affectionately dubbed “The Winter of Endless Snowfall” here at the 45th parallel. We had well over 20 bona fide powder days bringing us 6 to 24 inches of overnight snowfall.

Some days, it snowed so hard your tracks would fill back in and disappear completely by the time you got back up the chairlift.

These memories are so precious, we’re afraid to tempt the snow gods by even imagining it could happen again. So even though the climatologists and meteorologists are telling us all the things we want to hear this time of year, we are leery of predicting anything extraordinary. So when asked for predictions, we rely only on our averages.

In case you were wondering, our average opening at Brundage Mountain hits right at the beginning of December. But we can’t help but remember that in 2007-2008, we opened Dec. 6 and still had the kind of season powder dreams are made of.

This column was written by April Russell, the communication director at Brundage Mountain Resort, north of McCall.

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