Spring Corn in Pipeline and Little Chute - Snowbasin to re-open this weekend!

By Powderhound Matt Jun 7, 2011
What is corn snow and why is it so fun to ski?

So with this beautiful spring weather, I was finally able to take down both the Pipleline Chute at Snowbird and Little Chute at Alta last weekend. The weather was truly spectacular.  Temperatures reached the middle 80s in the Valleys, 60's at the resort bases and a lovely high 40s on the peaks of Wasatch. Not only did the spring temperatures make for some delicious corn snow but it made all the upper mountain hikes very doable in just a t-shirt.  Over heating wasn't a problem this go around if you were dressed properly. For those of you asking yourselves, what exactly is corn snow, well here is the official definition from the Avalanche Centre:

Corn Snow: Coarse, granular wet snow. During the spring and summer diurnal cycle of melting and refreezing the corn snow skiing is at its best in mid to late morning, after a layer has begun to melt but before it is too wet and sloppy.

Corn snow doesn't just set up overnight. It's not the same process as a storm dropping  fresh powder over night, the corn snow process actually takes some time for it to develop. This time of year I often hear people ask Snowbird Ski Patrol, "Since you have so much snow, why aren't you open seven days a week?" The answer they usually get is, "We are farming our snow." Now to the avid skier that makes plenty of sense, but to the tourist on vacation that probably just leaves them utterly confused. What they're inferring is actually a pretty simple concept. In order for "Corn Snow" to grow, the actual snow surface needs some time to be left alone. If Snowbird were open 7 days a week, skier traffic would never allow for the corn to develop and grow. The four day break between weekend skiing installments gives Mother Nature just enough time to smooth away all the previous weekends turns and replace it with a perfectly farmed snow surface of smooth creamy corn snow. When the corn skiing is at its peak it's almost as good as skiing powder. Big high speed turns are far from out of the question, they are actually how I enjoy skiing the spring bounty best!


In other great news around the Wasatch, Snowbasin has decided to re-open for skiing and riding this weekend! Yes, you read that correctly. They aren't opening for summer operations they are opening for skiing!!!!  With all the spring snow we've had this season I guess they just figured it was the right thing to do.  If you find it hard to believe that we've had just that much snow, check out the last 10 seconds of the video I've posted today.  There you'll see Kevin Rapf from Park City TV standing in front of the trail marker sign on top of the Little Cloud lift at Snowbird. You'll be able to see for yourself that as May has turned into June our snowpack hasn't decreased like it's supposed to but it has actually grown quite significantly.  Enjoy the video! I have also attached the official press release below. Needless to say, if you need to find me on Saturday, Snowbasin will be the first place you need to look.  



Due to popular demand and a 100 inch base, for the 1st time ever Snowbasin Resort will be re-opening for weekends beginning June 11th and will remain open for as long as snow conditions allow. Skiers and Riders will be able to upload and download on Needles Gondola to access multiple intermediate runs off of Middle Bowl Triple from 8 am to 2 pm. Snowbasin’s General Manager said, “Maintenance scheduled for Needles Gondola has been recently completed which will allow access to the Middle Bowl Triple. Cool temperatures and a significant amount of late season snow has kept our base over 100 inches deep at mid-mountain so it only seems natural for Snowbasin to re-open on weekends.”


Season passes for the 2011/2012 winter season can be purchased starting this Saturday, giving those dedicated snow enthusiasts access to skiing and snowboarding earlier than ever. Single day lift tickets are selling for $35. Passes from the past 2010-2011 season will not be honored. Barbeque food will be available. For any other information please call 801.620.1000.