Snowfall at Ormes

The après work ski, youth ski teams, carving down a groomer as the wind brings tears to your eyes – one common thread, snow.  When Ormes Peak Ski Resort is mentioned, the question of snow is the first topic brought into question.  Is there enough snow to accommodate a ski resort?  Yes.  Ormes Peak has an abundance of snow and that is what makes après work ski, youth ski teams, and you flying down the steeps a real possibility.

From the urban thralls of Colorado Springs, Ormes is nearly hidden from view, making it difficult to see the vast quantity of snow blanketing its slopes.  Unless you have hiked to the summit of Blodgett Peak in the winter, Ormes’ valleys remain a hidden winter wilderness.  Once you lay eyes on Ormes Peak though, you have visible proof it receives more snowfall than Keystone Ski Resort.

Ski resorts publish and collect their own snowfall data.  How each resort collects and reports this data varies though making it difficult to compare resorts.  The National Weather Service (NWS) collects data across the entire nation and has no incentive to report extra snowfall.  At Ormes we do not yet have a weather station, so let’s take a look at the NWS data [1] [2] [3].

NWS data is collected for you, and as a result, it is collected where sufficient populations live, namely within towns.  Below are the closest towns for NWS reporting for each ski resort.  The NWS reports the annual snowfall averages using their historical data which goes back over 30 years.  Using averaged NWS data, snowfall at Ormes lies somewhere between Keystone and Breckenridge [2].  The important takeaway from the NWS data is that Ormes is comparable to the ski resorts we enjoy and are driving over 100 miles to visit.

Snowfall1

Now, why is it that ski resorts report more snowfall than the NWS [4] [5]?  There are two important elements, elevation and wind direction.  We like to live where it’s sunny and warm, and protected from the wind.  These elements are the polar opposite of what a ski resort desires – higher elevations where it’s colder, windier, and the uplift of mountain slopes increases precipitation.

In Colorado, wind direction often plays an even bigger role than elevation.  Breckenridge’s snowfall is nearly entirely a result of storms from the northwest.  The prevailing winds on the mountain are also from the west.  As a result, the resort’s east facing orientation loads with snow from these storms, while Keystone, on the opposite side of the Valley, sees only two-thirds of that same snowfall!  This is a similar tale for Beaver Creek and Vail where the more northerly the wind orientation of a storm, the more snowfall the resorts is likely to capture.

Snowfall2

Ormes orientation, like all ski resorts, maximizes snowfall.  Ormes Peak lies several thousand feet above Colorado Springs where its prominence and elevation result in increased snowfall.  Ormes lodge is located near the top of the mountain at 9,728’.  The base of Ormes’ Summit Lift, where night skiing and early season operations are proposed to occur, is at around 8,900’.  Most of us are living almost 3,000’ lower at 6,035’ in the rain shadows of Pikes and Ormes Peaks.

Elevation benefits Ormes but its slope orientation is at least equally as important.  The resort slopes lie on the Northern aspects of Ormes and Blodgett Peaks.  The southerly storms that batter the Front Range and leave a foot on your driveway, deposit two feet on Ormes.  This effect is even more pronounced for smaller storms which may leave only an inch or two in town but on Ormes, that same storm can leave over a foot.

The location of Ormes also benefits from Colorado Springs second snowfall pattern, storms from the North West.  As a deep valley running from North to West, its Eastern facing slopes load during NW storms.  The prominence of Blodgett to the East, the same prominence that hides the resort from view, also protects its Western facing slopes from being scoured by the wind.  The high pressure that sits over Colorado Springs provides Ormes a second benefit during such storms.  It causes them to stall over the mountain, giving them some additional time to unleash their white bounty.

Still not convinced? Take a hike up Blodgett Peak this weekend and you will become a supporter.  Ready to ski Ormes?!  Help us Crowd Fund Ormes Peak and let’s make this dream a reality!   In the meantime, don’t forget to follow us to stay up to date on all of the great things Ormes has in store for you!

SnowfallTable

Sources

[1] US Daily Snowfall and Snow Depth Data (n.d.).  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 18 Jan 2016 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/snow-and-ice/daily-snow/

[2] Sterling’s Best Places (n.d.). Retrieved 22 Feb 2016 from http://www.bestplaces.net/climate/zip-code/

[3] Average Snowfall (n.d.).  Weather Database. Retrieved 02 Feb 2016 from https://snowfall.weatherdb.com

[4] What’s Your Average Snowfall? (n.d.). Breckenridge Ski Resort. Retrieved 16 Jan 2016 from http://www.breckenridge.com/faqdetail/Snow-Stake-Cams/Whats-your-average-snowfall.axd

[5] Eldora.  Colorado Ski (n.d.). Colorado Ski Country USA. Retrieved 13 Jan 2016 from http://www.coloradoski.com/resorts/eldora

8 thoughts on “Snowfall at Ormes

  1. Holly Tripp says:

    So it sounds like the snowfall question is answered. That was one of my big ones! But my other big question is access? Where will the access roads to the resort be? From Woodland Park, from Peregrine? Where exactly?

    • admin says:

      Hi Holly, its amazing how much snowfall one range back differs from what we receive here. For access, our plan is to run a gondola from the bottom of the Blodgett Open Space and over to Ormes Peak. This would have it running through the valley North of the mine and South of the valley defining Blodgett Peak. The base area would be small and integrate as much as possible with the current utilization of the land by the City of Colorado Springs (its owner). Base facilities would likely comprise 2-5 acres including ticket sales, the lift, and paid parking. The paid parking would utilize the existing 3/4 mile service road with the remainder being provided offsite via a shuttle system.

  2. Bret Baker says:

    This really sounds great! I just donated to the cause. Are you posting the donation level status somewhere?

    • admin says:

      Glad to share the stoke! We are building the html script for a donations page and will hopefully have it up live soon. For now, we plan to share updates with supporters like yourself via regular emails to reporting on our progress. We have a few big meetings in the next month so stay tuned!

  3. DAVID A KELLER says:

    Keystone and Breckenridge have to make snow. Is blowing your own snow in the plan? Where would the water come from?

    • admin says:

      Yes, we would lay a preliminary base like most other Colorado resorts. A prepared base maximizes subsequent snowfall capture by creating a dense insulating layer from the ground. To get the water, we are trying to obtain rights to sink a well within the resorts operating area. This approach is the most environmentally friendly and utilizes the least water. Several CA studies found that utilizing an on resort well results in over 80% of the pulled water returning into the water table. At the base of the resort we would also build a capture pool. This would add a second source recycling our melt water as opposed to adding to Colorado Springs current storm runoff problem.

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