Friday, March 5, 2021

going, Going, GOING... gone? (March 5-7)

Sorry for the long gap in posting a conditions update here. Things get really crazy with work, family, coaching, and of course all of this grooming business. After yet another long drought stretch that almost had us pulling the plug in February (NO!!!), we got that great week of snow and cold weather that saved our season...again. Funny how this year has been. Each month had a storm right in the middle that kept us in business and gave us one wonderful week of skiing, then followed by too much warm, dry, sun. I have to say, I didn't expect much out of this year and it has been frustrating, but overall I think it surpassed my expectations. We have had a fair number of very good days of skiing, just not a deep and resilient base to keep it going. We've definitely had a lot of days on rock skis and further degradation of skis that will become rock skis...sigh. 

So, here we are at March 5th and looking down the barrel of a "heatwave" forecast for Sunday-Tuesday. That's a bummer since we did pick up about 2" of new snow yesterday that the groomers went out and roll-packed down to preserve and keep it from blowing away. Word on the trail is that it is VERY good conditions, save for the odd thin and bare spot here and there. Tonight, we'll go up and perform the full ice-grind and groom for one last glorious Saturday, before the meltdown commences on Sunday. 

The kids' club will be having a practice biathlon in the upper meadow (kinda early), so be aware of that, but don't let it stop you. Come watch them scramble and ski their hearts out, while trying to remain calm while shooting the targets. It's kind of interesting to see. 

 After the big meltdown, the National Weather Service is hinting at an interesting an much wetter forecast for late next week and beyond. They're staying coy about the details, as all of these hopeful pattern changes have not quite materialized the way they would first report, but if it does turn out to be true, we might pull the equipment around again if it's worth it. 

 Thanks for all the wonderful support, and here's to a better season next year.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

LAlleyFloop 2021!!

Announcing a pretty dumb virtual distanced ski tour/not-a-race for our Los Alamos Trails. The Los Alamos Alley Fake Loop aka the LAlley Floop.

As the club is general not headed up to do the Alley Loop in Crested Butte this winter and we miss it so, I(Tarik) have created this course in the spirit of the Alley Loop utilizing the all the ungroomed short cuts on our trail which are our version of the alleys in CB. This is really aimed toward the SWNordic Ski Kids racers, but all are welcome to try it any time between Wednesday 2/3 and Tuesday 2/9.

All SWnordic Kids that complete one of the courses this week will get a prize from our friends at Crested Butte Nordic. Please contact me (tariksaleh at gmail dot com) if your kid does the tour, and which course and the time if you want, I will collate, post participants/results, and get prizes distributed. If you want, send me a photo of you or your kids doing the course for posting.

I will take times and courses for other finishers, but again, this is not a race, it is a pretty dumb course and getting dumber by the second this week unless we get some snow, it was pretty damn good last week, but it is not last week anymore, is it? No, it is not. I put the "long course" on Strava as "LAlleyFloop2021" if you are so inclined. These is a true freestyle courses. Long course should be faster on skate skis, but the shortcuts are not groomed and are kind of a slog on skate skis depending on your skills and will. Kind of like the Alleys in crested butte, just with more altitude change. People might be happier on classic skis. I don't care, it is immaterial what kind of skis you use.

OK, everyone with me? I suggest the junior skiers ski this with their little pod groups for fun or with their parents. Again, do this at any time you wish in the next week and please don't gather or crowd or otherwise violate covid protocols. Watch for other trail user and dogs and snowshoers on the lower trails.

Here are the courses:

1. LAlleyFloop2021 Long Course (4km) this is on Strava : Experienced skiers only, and more experienced junior skiers. Be aware the N->O shortcut is kind of sketchy and narrow and is losing snow rapidly today : Start at A. Go up upper trails, take the left shortcut at TJ's and then the second shortcut up to J. At J go up the trails and take the next two upper shortcuts. At the top of the second shortcut, take a left and ski that loop down. Now go down the first of the upper trails shortcuts back to J. At J take a hard left to take the shortcut to point M on the meadow/lower road. At M take a hard right and head down the lower road, and keep straight at the shortcut at N (the snowshoe trail) and take that down to the lower road at O. Take the lower road back toward the start, however just past the top of the first uphill take a right on the wide ungroomed shortcut to the upper trail near B. From B, ski down to A. You are done! This took Aida and I about 45 minutes of slow slushy skiing with a lot of breaks to bemoan the way too warm conditions. There are a few rocks here and there and the N->O downhill shortcut is burning out fast and is narrow and steep and hard to slow down sometimes. It gets a ton of snowshoe traffic so the lane is a bit narrow for snow plowing. You may skip this and ski the whole lower road instead. If this sounds confusing you really should get to know our trails better, so consider it a challenge. If you mess it up, I bet you had fun anyway and it still counts if you tried. I am sure the map wont help top much, but here goes Map:

2. LAlleyFloop2021 short course (upper): Start and end at A. Ski the uppertrails taking the short cuts to point J. Take J to the meadow if you want. Get back to point A via whatever route is safe and comfy for you. This is less challenging for younger and inexperienced skiers, but still might be a little sketchy from J to A via the lower road if it gets too warm. So you can just turn around and head back to A if you want. For some of the newer skiers, just getting to point A is a victory in it self. So use your best judgement for younger skiers. Same to point J as above, choose your own adventure on the way back

3.LAlleyFloop2021 Littles course 1 (or everyone course if it all goes wrong this week for snow coverage): Start at Gate on camp may road, ski up the road to mother lift, around mother lift and then down back toward the gate. On the way back, take a right up the steep little hill and then ski past the Aspen lift and then take a hard left and go down the steeper cut back toward camp may road. Then ski up camp may road to the fir tree and take a right on our trail system and then an immediate right on the shortcut back to the gate. Dont do this when the lifts are running. I think this is almost 0.5 miles per lap, so do as many laps as you want. I will add this to strava for science sooon. Map:

4. LAlleyFloop2021 Littles course 2: Start at Gate on camp may road, ski up the road to mother lift, around mother lift and then down back to the gate. Finish at gate. This is about .3miles. You can do another lap, or lots of laps, see if I care.

Hopefully this will be fun. But remember, the real fun is the friends we made along the way, except for this year, there are no new friends, just isolation with you and your skis and the trail. I think there is great potential for an even dumber slightly expanded LAlleyFloop if the two shortcuts from TJ's to the lower road are passable again, then you can go from N->O and then right back up to TJ's and then across the lower part of TJ's to the other shortcut to P? on the lower road and then up the lower road to the shortcut up to B and make a zigzag. I think this is pretty impassible right now with trees down and aspens growing in the shortcut, so maybe next year. I am sure clay has opinions on why this is not a good course and how it could be better, but this one is 100% excellent and definitely the best course ever.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

More new snow for 1/26/2021

I think we're finally getting out of the "low and pathetic" conditions reports into the "this is great!" category of trail reports. Not to be too greedy, but I do think we could use just a bit more snow to make things last for a while longer. We just barely got over the hump of getting those giant volcanic rocks covered, so one more good round would really help things out. We're keeping the trails rolled and compacted as each wave comes through. It takes a long time to set a classic track, so we kinda wait until it lets up so it doesn't just fill in. When it's soft like it is now, a track isn't really necessary anyway. Looks like a break in the action starting tomorrow through early Friday (with some warmer temperatures), with another quick-hit storm right at the start of the weekend. Another round is expected throughout the day today. Groomers will be up each night working on the trails, so check it out!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Trails report for January 23, 2021

We got up to the trails to groom around a quarter to six, did some work to the machines and unearthed our "good snow" groomer, which has been frozen to the ground, covered in fall leaves, then buried under the less than optimal snowpack thus far. Things are improving, so we think we'll be able to pull it out and finally use it this season! One more round of snow, and it's gettin' called into action. We went out to set track and shovel a couple of the thin spots, which went well. It started snowing while we were grooming, but we went ahead and finished the job. It came down pretty hard just as we were leaving, so that was great to see, but obviously, it was going to fill in the tracks...oh well, we need the snow badly. Everything was regroomed and mostly all set with track. Things have improved and it's now mostly possible to ski even the lower meadow without issues if you know the right line ;-) Today, I was able to ski without hitting a single thing, even on the front hill, which is obviously still very thin. With each round of snow, we'll do our best to pack/groom/set track, but there may be some delays depending on volunteer availability. It's a hard job and takes a LONG time to do each session (at least 3 to 5 hours). Thanks to all of you who have renewed your memberships and/or supported the club. It keeps the program running and the trails groomed! Please get out and enjoy these good conditions!!!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Grooming report 1/22/2021

 Dang...again, apologies for the long delays in updating the news blog.  We suffered a mysterious mechanical on one of the machines and it took a big effort to go rescue it and get it repaired.  Too many things to do with so little time...

Anyway, woohoo for the new snow, ~13" of wet stuff that quickly got saturated in the next day's sun and compressed to a firm 7" or so.  That really saved us and things are not so bad out beyond Point-B or so on the trails.  Parts of the lower Guaje Trail (aka "Lower Road") are still a little thin, but mostly all good after lots of packing and grooming.  The lower meadow below Point-N on the system index is still bumpy from the huge grass clumps, but if skied carefully, is quite passable now.  

The front hill is still super thin and has rocks all through that middle steep, narrow section.  Use EXTREME caution through there and don't even think about snow plowing in that section unless you really do not care about your ski bases.  You will hit rocks.  We always tell people to twist your poles around 180-degrees so that the ski baskets are in the "up" position.  You can carefully "walk" yourself down with your arms/poles until you're through that bad section.  Or, do the prudent thing and take your skis off to walk (stay on the high side, not in the middle) around it.  At any rate, it's short and you can ski just about everything right now.

We rolled everything twice, then pulled the smaller groomer through.  We need one more good storm to pull out our fancy, big "Tidd" groomer with the tiller and leveler.  There's just not quite enough to do that just yet.  Perhaps after the weekend.

The plan is to get a classic track set tonight on the parts of the system that allows it right now...the upper tree trails mainly.  There should be good skiing this weekend.  

Rolling with the compaction device down

The new snow groomed out nicely

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Report for January 14, 2021

We've had a lot going on, if not a lot of snow falling on the trails. The entire system was roll-packed after the small storm over the weekend, and there continues to be some OK rock skiing throughout. It improves as one skis up and around the shadowy Canada Bonita ridge. Above Point J, it's not bad at all. Below that, use extreme caution and learn where those big volcanic rocks hide and wait to take your ski's base from you.

Camp May Rd practice area was regroomed last evening (Wednesday) to run some tests on the machines. There is both skate and classic set, and the snow is great.
The machines have required a lot of tweaking this year, so perhaps the dearth of snow has been a semi-blessing in disguise for the groomers. We *might* now have them all back in working order, but it has been a bit frustrating. It was just a bunch of little things, and that joyride that the vandals perpetrated back in September did a real number to our poor old Ranger. Little gremlins keep surfacing, but hopefully we're past that now. We'll see. It had a clutch failure and the anti-sway arm stabilizer was completely broken and required full replacement. That is always a fun type of job in our teeny-tiny shop space. For now, we're able to groom if we get new snow, so that's always the focus.

We'll report back on things if one of the other groomers can peel away and refresh things. Plans are in the works for this evening.

The NOAA is predicting some type of snowstorm for late in the weekend or perhaps Monday-Wednesday timeframe. The prediction seems to be improving, so hopefully we'll be able to stay in business. It's getting a bit lean out there in places...

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Not much to say...except that we NEED MORE SNOW!!! (January 6)

 Not much to say here.  I haven't personally been up to groom, having to deal with a few mechanical issues with the machines.  Cameron Staples has kept things in shape, but we are running perilously low on snow and so the skiing reflects that.  Be SUPER careful when you head out into the trail network.  There are great sections, then some that are just super thin with obstacles hiding just below the surface.  

This next storm looks like it'll only give us a glancing blow, but hopefully something will come out of it.  We'll see.  Do your snow dances!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Happy New Year - January 4 Report

 Happy New Year to everyone.  Hope you've been able to get out and ski on our thin but well-maintained snowpack.  The trails have remained in pretty decent ski shape, despite the dearth of snow.  Ugh...we need a big storm!

Anyway, we'll keep working on making things skiable as long as we can.  This is the very reason why we keep the trails maintained all year and hang up all of that fencing.  We have to be ready for this very scenario.

I think we'll keep trying to groom every 3rd day or so for now, so keep that in mind.  It should be pretty OK skiing for about another week or so, if it doesn't get too warm.  

The upper ski trails are best, and the lower road was groomed the other night as well.  The lower half of the meadows are not so good, so use EXTREME caution in those areas.  The front hill is also very rocky, so the advice is to ski carefully up, then take your skis off and walk that rocky section (walk on the high side of the trail, PLEASE). 

Keep your fingers crossed for more snow!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

12/30/2020 Grooming Report

 We went back up last evening to finish the full grooming work after Cameron ran the roller/compactor in the morning, following the little storm we got.

It was nice and cold, and with just enough snow to set a partial system classic track.  It will be thin in spots, but the upper trails have a pretty nice classic track, plus the skate lane looks good too.

It's supposed to stay seasonably cool, so hopefully this lasts for a little while, or until we get more snow.  It just doesn't look like any sort of whopper storm is coming anytime soon, but there are chances of little quick-hitter storms on the horizon.  As long as it's cool and we get some doses of snow here and there, we'll be OK.

Enjoy, and please support the club by joining or donating (see the registration site on our webpage).

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Snow & Grooming Report 12/29/2020

 Finally, some much needed new snow!  It wasn't the big dump we were hoping for, but it keeps us in business.  It was in the neighborhood of 6", so that's pretty good.  Here's the report from our new grooming hand, Cameron Staples:


Groomed this morning with the roller and wing down. The snow is looking great, hopefully it doesn’t get too warm today. 

Did two loops. 
Made some mistakes: going out on the lower trail once you get to the snowshoe trail fork I went left on the first pass and wasn’t sure if that was correct, so went right on the second pass. Sorry about that. 
Also groomed out in the meadow out past the fence and just did a lollipop turnaround. So didn’t groom the full meadow loop. Went back To the upper trails and got mixed up a little but made everything work out fine. Had to detach the roller and do a turnaround because on the second loop I didn’t turn right where it loops around and has the really steep turn hill. Made it smooth and used the shovel to correct my mistake (hopefully well enough). 

Did some passes on the camp may road and when I got back people had already walked all over it. Figures haha

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Conditions Update for 12/23/2020

Merry Christmas on this cold and blustery December 23.  Not a whole lot to report - we've tried to keep up with some mode of trail maintenance with the little bit of snow that we're farming and trying to hold onto.  We did install more sections of fencing where the trees have continued to fall and allow too much sun to shine on the snow.  That should help conserve what we have and keep the ground frozen enough for when we do get more snow, which is in the forecast for early next week...fingers crossed!

Trails were regroomed last evening, but no new classic track was set with the low snow conditions.  We might try pulling something around in a day or two to get at least something set.  It'll be a thin track, but it'll be nice to have something to ski in.

Hopefully, the surface conditions aren't total boilerplate today and tomorrow.  We tried a different thing to grind up the surface before running the "Tidd" groomer.  

As it has been, and is getting worse by the day, there are a lot of rocks and obstacles on the lower part of the course, with more grass and twigs on the upper part.  The wind will probably lay down some tree trash too, so please keep your eyes peeled for that stuff.

Use extreme caution in the burn areas of the system, and especially the front hill.  If you do take your skis off to walk, walk to the upper side to avoid making holes in the middle.  (thanks!)

The upper part of the trails should still be nice for skiing, so it's worth it...

Friday, December 18, 2020

Season is ON! 12/15/2020

 Finally, we received enough snow (barely) to go out and groom.  We also got some damaging wind, but it wasn't too bad and we were able to clean it up and get the trails packed and groomed.

It's super thin in many sections, so be SUUUPER careful and use your rock skis.  Mostly, the lower road is groomed and skiable from A to O, as are the upper trails, which ski a bit better.  We also got the upper meadow and Caldera loop packed in.  

It's all lumpy and bumpy until we get more snow, so keep that in mind.

Here are some recent snow pics of the trails and the mess we had to clean up:

SWNSC shop

SWNSC kids skiing on Camp May Rd

Clearing downfall out on the trails

Good skiing the next day out on the trails

Friday, March 6, 2020

LATE grooming report March 6, 2020

Trails were groomed to perfection Tuesday night, but alas, these super warm days are taking a toll on a few sections.  Most of the coverage is still fine and probably skis great in that 10am to noon window, but it's probably icy in the early morning and early evening.  There are about 4 or 5 short sections that are very thin and narrow, then it's great and totally good skiing before and after. 

We gotta do some "shade augmentation" work this next summer and fall, so please make some time to volunteer.  There are other things that need doing as please come out and help!

Anyway, everything was groomed and track was set, etc.  I'm not sure if any of the other groomers are going to have motivation to groom before the weekend, but I'm out until next week due to this weekend's Demo Days by Salomon and Fischer, up at Enchanted Forest XC ski area.

Here are some pics of the grooming on Tuesday and the great skiing the next day:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Trail conditions report 2/19/2020

There was about one inch of new snow from last night.  The sun came out pretty strongly for a bit, so it softened up.  A single grooming pass was made on all of the front/low trails: Lower Guaje Trail, the "NO" hill from Lower Guaje into the lower meadow, back into the main ski trails from Point M to J, then down the lower stuff.  The upper tree trails and the upper/outer meadows were not groomed, but have some soft, new snow on top of the frozen crusty stuff.

The front hill is getting quite lean with narrow and thin ice, especially in that steep, south-facing middle section.  Be very careful there.

There may be more grooming this evening by one of the junior kids team parents, but generally speaking, conditions are holding alright for now.  The classic track is a bit old, but with the new skiff of snow, it is still good skiing.  Tomorrow is supposed to be cold, then maybe a wet storm over the weekend.  Hopefully we get a good dump of heavy, wet snow, followed by cold weather.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Trail Conditions (?) 2/18/2020

We don't have much to report - the weekend got pretty warm, so there was some thawing on those sun-baked parts of the trail.  The forecast calls for some new snow tonight, although not much, so we'll wait to see what plays out before heading back out with the groomer.  It'll likely be refreshed by Thursday or Friday.  Looks like an even bigger chance of some warm, wet snow over the weekend.  Stay tuned for that one as well.

Last Friday afternoon, Kevin Reid did go back out to refresh the skate lane and finish putting some reflective wands out in the meadow so we don't get lost every time it snows or drifts.  A big thanks for that.

For now, we stay in a holding pattern to see what happens.  Regardless, we'll report back by Thursday/Friday.  Still a lot of skiing to be had this season!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Grooming Report 2/13/2020

Well, this winter, while not the biggest or snowiest, or coldest, is turning out to be pretty OK.  Just when we start getting on the dry side with some melting, we seem to be blessed with just enough to keep conditions pretty nice for a few days.

Travis and Zach got out with the YTS roller and compactor to get things started and skiable after the storm.  It was really nice skiing with the kids junior team last evening, with cold temps and all.

I got out with our Yamaha Viking and G2 groomer just around sundown thinking it would be a quick job with the faster machine.  Well, things don't always go to plan, but it wasn't too bad.  With the new snow filling in the meadow trails, the packing work got a bit off course since we haven't had a chance to set out any reflective wands all season.  The ironic thing is that a club member donated some to us and set them by the Point-L tree, but we haven't gotten them set out.  They were still leaning on the tree as I drove right by them after getting stuck out in the meadow!  sigh

Anyway, after wrestling with getting the snomo and groomer stuck a couple of times and wrestling with it out there, I finally found the correct alignment and was able to get most of the meadow groomed, but it looks kinda weird for now.  I also found that our various paths through there have drifted us over a couple of buried fence posts, so it was REALLY time to get those reflective wands set out.  I did that at noon today, so just keep an eye out for them.  Two of them are directly on the tops of buried steel fence posts.

Things groomed out well for both classic and skate.  Kevin Reid has plans to groom the skate lane again Friday evening.  Should be nice skiing over the weekend, but will probably be icy again by Monday.  Be careful on the narrow front hill ice path!

It's about time we got some photo documentation of how nice our conditions have been this year (click on the pictures to see them in larger size):
Camp May Rd beyond the gate.  Paul Allen grooms it for us when he's working the Pajarito Mtn shift.  Good man, Paul!

Point A, looking down the Lower Guaje Canyon Trail

Point A, looking up the xc ski trail

Nice view of the eastern shoulder of Pajarito Mtn

Our difficult sun-exposed, fire ravaged "Front Hill" section.  The shade fencing really has done its job this year!

A section on TJ's trail, between Point E and F on our trail system index

Looking at Point E on TJ's

Nice little narrows on Dave's Dogleg

Looking east, over the Rio Grande Valley and the southernmost tip of the Sangre de Cristos

Sun splashed tree section, above Point J

Typical curves in the climb out toward Canada Bonita

Getting higher, just above Point K

Another curve, above Point K

Nice classic skiing today

Upper Baca meadow loop

Looking down the Canada Bonita from the rim of the Valles Caldera

Looking up to the top of the Canada Bonita and the Caldera Rim

Nice view of Cerro del Medio magma dome in the Valles Caldera

Hairy Sasquatch that is commonly found out in the Canada Bonita

Final curve at the top

Another view of Cerro del Medio ~10,000 ft

Monday, February 10, 2020

Trail Conditions Update 2/10/2020

It's been a little too hectic to keep everything updated with info.  We're down to a super bare-bones grooming crew, so those long hours spent grooming means no discretionary time to keep things posted.  We're doing the best we can on the trails, so hopefully you're able to get out when it's all groomed and good.

It did snow last week, got really cold for a couple of days, then the temps went UP after a nice cold day on Thursday, during the night!  That's weird.  So, Friday, and especially Saturday were warm.  Those sections that are very sun-baked (front hill, etc.) took kind of a beating.  Everything else stayed nice, however.  There's still plenty of skiing, but things did transition quite a bit.  Sunday was nice.

Things were groomed completely on Friday night.  Lots of drifts out in the meadow, so those zones are pretty wonky.  We did get out Saturday evening again to regroom for all the full-moon baskers, and so the skate lanes were magnificent yesterday and stayed nice since there was a good cloud deck that kept the temps and sun in check.

Looks like a storm on the horizon, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Trails groomed 2/05/2020

Oof, that was a long night!  There was quite a bit of new snow for what seemed like not much of a storm.  The total amount was hard to figure out, but it looked like anywhere from 5" (bottom) to nearly 8" at the top.  Sometimes that happens.

Anyway, the entire system was packed/groomed out, but may be just a bit soft out in the meadows.  The tree trails and stuff down low will be firm right away.  It was very cold, so it set up fast.

Kids ski program this afternoon starting out about 4pm.  We'll have a classic time trial this Saturday, about 5km or so, so come on out if you're up for that.  First skier off at 9:30AM.


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

2/04/2020 Snow Update

After a bit of a break from getting some "real" snow over this past week, things look to have improved with today's storm.  Travis got up there last evening to grind up all the old snow, tree garbage, crust, glaze, etc., so that this new snow fell on something a bit cleaner. 

We'll get this groomed out, likely without a classic track, for the week, then put in a classic track for the weekend.  The kids (and anyone else who wants to join in) will have a ~6km classic-technique time trial on Saturday morning, first skier off at 9:30 AM.  So, we'll have a pretty good track set by then.

Updates as we get them...

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Currently snowing pretty hard! 1/16/2020

It's been snowing since late morning, with some heavy squalls passing through.  Looks like the good dose of snow we were needing and hoping for...with a good, solid base underneath.  Woohoo!

Please be patient with our volunteer grooming operation, usually conducted by us "old" guys after a full day of real life.  I think there are plans for a couple of guys to go up tonight and do some packing laps, with another volunteer scheduled to go up tomorrow.  It'll likely be soft throughout the weekend, with plans to groom on Dr. MLK, Jr. holiday (Monday).

We'll try to get a classic track pulled in, so hopefully that'll be the really good option for classic touring in new, soft snow. 

Stay tuned.