Three months of skiing sun-baked snow can't prepare the body for a storm that dumps seven feet in less than 72 hours. Seven feet of lush, blower powder spritzing your face every turn and torching your quads before your first beer.
The dry powder was the result of a cold front aligning with a heavy band of Pacific moisture on Friday. The low pressure forced its way over the Sierra Crest Friday morning, shedding two inches per hour and packing the existing snow into a solid base as the cold front hit Friday night. The end result: Alpine Meadows reported a whopping 109-inch storm total, Squaw got 97, and Sugar Bowl received 97. Even the lakeside resorts, Kirkwood and Mt. Rose, got pummeled. For mountains whose pre-storm base totals hovered around 35 inches, it was a recipe for a wild St. Patrick's Day.
With the sweet sound of avy bombs punctuating the morning silence, I headed to Squaw desperate for hero conditions. I join the crowd in the KT–22 lift line, where tailgate chefs in ski boots cooked breakfast hours before first chair. I'm no Sick Bird, but the powder frenzy inspired me to huck newly covered boulders on KT's western chutes.
Sunday saw rope drops on terrain that was closed all season. The best part? A second storm arrived Sunday through Tuesday—filling in the bomb holes under Squaw's Fingers. —Maren Kasselik