I skipped an entire day of work yesterday. I didn’t mean to, but the skiing was just too good to head back inside and slouch in front of a computer screen. It was hammering fluffy, Utah powder and a couple of quick runs soon bled into a full day of lapping my favorite lifts. What was so special about this particular day? Nothing. It was a random Wednesday in early January in what’s been an exceedingly typical season in Utah that won’t even register on the post-season tall tales meter. The unremarkable remarkableness of January 8 was a perfect encapsulation of “The Greatest Snow on Earth” and was the catalyst that compelled me to take to the keyboard in defense of the Beehive State’s place atop the snow podium.
Our cross-border colleagues at 5280 hemmed and hawed about whether Utah or Colorado has better snow in a recent piece and—bless their hearts—tried to opine on how Colorado snow could kinda, sorta, maybe be on par with Utah snow. The primary evidence cited consisted of a 2018 tweet from Steamboat referring to their trademark Champagne Powder™ and a mention of how their resorts are higher in elevation and thus have a longer ski season. Naming your snow after a regional bubbly grape drink that nobody really likes unless they’re bordering on a New Year’s Eve loss of consciousness or working off a possibly-related hangover by mixing it with orange juice the next morning? Elucidating upon the merits of enjoying oxygen-depleted, wind-scoured dust on crust all winter just to brave a few extra early fall and late spring days on the white ribbon of death? That’s what we’re working with? Sheesh.
To author Shauna Farnell’s credit, she’s a wonderful and far more accomplished writer than I, and she did the best with the available evidence at hand. Defense attorneys are compelled to act on behalf of even their most doomed clients after all. Calling on witnesses like University of Utah professor atmospheric science Jim Steenburgh—who said, “There really is no argument,”—and OpenSnow forecasters Joel Gratz and Evan Thayer didn’t help Colorado’s cause. Consulting Z Rankings mind-numbingly meticulous and empirically sourced quantitative snow rankings—Alta, Snowbird and Brighton hold the top three spots for Total Snow Score in North America—effectively closed the case. Utah gets more snow, of higher quality, more consistently than Colorado. When it comes to snow, Utah simply has the best. Full stop.
Turning to 5280’s red herrings about what one should prioritize in skiing—e.g., steepness, crowds, weather, time of the season, etc.—they unearth some valid points. Indeed, traffic in the Cottonwood Canyons occasionally approaches I-70 levels of gridlock, and Utah’s myriad quirks undoubtedly don’t appeal to everyone. Colorado is a beautiful state with marvelous skiing and fabulous people. Just don’t bring up snow around Utahns. We get a little defensive. When you come at the king, you best not miss.
Related Article: Explore the Science Behind the Greatest Snow on Earth