This shot was captured from a live cam at Squaw Valley High Camp. Study it for a few seconds and realize how much it tells you. A picture may be worth a thousand words but a live cam blows that away!

By David Schissler – Every morning I make a point of grabbing a cup of coffee and visiting the webcams at my favorite resorts around North America. In 5 to 10 minutes I can travel from wherever I am to Loon, Cannon, Bretton Woods, Wildcat (my home range), to Sunapee, Stowe, Sugarbush, Whiteface and others in the Northeast and instantly jump to Whistler, Kirkwood, Squaw-Alpine, Snowbird, Vail, Copper, and Loveland out West. I bookmark each resort’s cam and moving from one location to another is just a click.

Cams still buried days after the storm don’t serve much purpose.

Why bother? For one thing, seeing the sites brings back fond memories of days at these mountains, but as a more practical matter only a webcam places you on the mountain in the moment. Snow reports are fine but with a decent HD cam you can see the snow quality, the grooming, the day’s light, the weather, the wind direction, how busy the lifts are and more.

Resort maintenance of webcams is a pet peeve of mine. I don’t understand why many resort PR/marketing execs appear to undervalue their cams. While most have quality cameras displaying the trails and lifts in their field, some are lax in cleaning the lenses or positioning the cams for the best viewing. I’ve seen cam views of the walls of lodges, icicles hanging from the lens or roof, snowdrifts, and delivery trucks. Of course there’s also the occasional yet ever frustrating “cam not available”.

There are two types of cameras. Some are time stamped snapshots updated every few minutes and some are live streaming video feeds. The live feeds are the best. To add to the experience some cams enable you to display live video in full screen and even allow you to pan the camera up, down, or side-to-side to get the view you desire. You become a part of the action if even only in a voyeuristic way, by watching lifts move and riders ride in real time.

It would be nice to see the right hand side of this shot but a lodge wall blocks the view.

If you’re as fortunate as I am and live in a region where you have a choice of places to ski, utilize the webcams before deciding where to make your turns. They provide visual info you can’t find elsewhere. If you’re headed to a destination resort, bookmark their webcams and watch in anticipation. If you just want to revisit some familiar or favorite places, a brief tour each morning is an elevating way to start your day.

An example of a cam being blocked by icicles.