WORDS & PHOTOS: Brett Schreckengost
The snow has been stacking up in Telluride and the northern San Juans this season since early December, with a seemingly endless series of storm cycles carrying us into the new year.
None of the storms have been anything massive, but the cumulative effect has filled in terrain and kept things soft.
Last week things really started ramping up, as the National Weather Service hoisted multiple winter storm warnings adding up to 40 inches in 10 days and bringing our season snowfall total to 177 inches. The first couple rounds of snow came in on southwest flow adding eight to sixteen inches of high-density powder to the snowpack. Inbounds conditions were great, but a major natural avalanche cycle was triggered in the local backcountry, with slide paths going big on all aspects and elevations.
This was followed up with a series of under-forecasted "sleeper" storms that came in from the north, delivering cold and dry low-density snow, as every storm seemed to ski better that the last and prompting a lot of "best day/s of the year" chatter around town.
Typically, we get a "January thaw," but the El Niño-boosted storm cycle seems to be bucking the trend and bringing it to the San Juans this season. My house and office are buried up to the window tops, and I am feeling the burn after a week of daily powder laps and constant shoveling.