Recent weather patterns have made it hard to know from day to day what to expect out in the Grand backcountry. On any given outing within the last week you might experience frigid, finger-biting cold, lift-stopping winds, or seemingly tropical warmth. Nevertheless, as long as you look at the local forecast, choose the appropriate layers, and select a trail that offers the shelter or exposure to enhance conditions, the winter trails continue to offer good gliding and sliding. Sunny trails are best on cold blue-bird days, while ridge-protected dark hollows can be safer havens on tree-toppling windy days. The variability has kept trail-breaking tolerable, with a denseness that supports weight well, while top layers remain soft enough to beckon for turns. Significant whoomping (settling of the snowpack as a skier’s weight arrives upon it) suggests remaining instability, though conditions can change hourly, depending on rise and fall of temperatures, wind-loading, and, should we be so lucky… rapid snowfall. Stay on the flats, or low angle terrain and those whoomps, though unsettling, will be toothless to cause you harm.

For whatever reason, the BC trails remain relatively lightly used for a mid-holiday week. There is enough usage to pack shorter loops adjacent to trailheads into narrow paths, while trail-breaking may be required to complete longer loops or to reach more distant destinations. Perhaps as the holiday proceeds, the right conditions will lure more folks out on the trails. In the meantime, the XC BC skiing has been holding up marvelously!