Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Skiing Purg's dusty corn ...

The cherry on top of this ice-cream sundae of a ski season is getting to ski Purg in April. The ski area is staying open weekends in April this year after having to open late, a lack of snow causing a delay until early December, and then receiving more than 200 inches after that.

Through April, weather and climate change permitting, the area is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday to Sunday, with the "six pack," Lift 3 (the quad), and Lift 8 running.

That means corn. And for the first time in my experience, that means corn on the "backside," off Lift 8.

T'was a fun and Scrapple-y weekend up at our neighborhood area. Especially on Sunday, when the sun screamed and we were treated to Silky cream-corn bumps, not many people (but lots of people we know), no lines, and only the occasional stray snow-bike jackass.

And live music on the "beach" in front of Purgy's -- the eternal Ralph Dinosaur and his band on Saturday, and on Sunday the heir-apparent to the Ralph Dinosaur Empire, Hounds of Purg. (Does that make them an "heir band"?)

A strange, somewhat surreal aspect to the weekend, though, was the dark and thick layer of dust that had been laid down by the season's first dust storm last week. Earlier in the week, you could see the dark tinge the storm had cast across the La Platas, but I was stunned by the spray-painted look of the snow at Purgatory. And you could hear and feel the gritty grind across the bases of your skis.

Last year, too, Utah blew all over the San Juans in early spring, darkening the snowpack and causing it to run off up to a month and a half early. According to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, BLM policies in southern Utah are fueling and exacerbating the phenomenon, with more problems to come.

Check out the rather dry but informative PowerPoint video below.

Also check out SUWA's "Red Dust Melting Colorado Snow" page here.

Red Snow in Winter?
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