Friday, April 20, 2018

closing day (or, let us be frank)

This has just not been my ski season: I don't know what hit me, but starting Saturday night, I began to come down with a head cold and when the "let's go skiing for Alta's closing day!" alarm went off Sunday morning, I just couldn't do it.  I felt like I'd been flattened by a steamroller.  But H, undaunted, headed off to celebrate Alta's closing day, wherein they don't actually close for the season but they close for midweek operations, reopening on Friday/Saturday/Sunday through the first weekend in May.  Maybe.  If there's enough snow.


At 10:30 a.m., he texted me to say that the parking lot is busy - lots of cars and tailgating - but the lifts and trails were not.  Shortly thereafter, he texted me again to say that Martha was disappointed in me for missing closing day.  Believe me, Martha, I was disappointed with myself.  He had lunch at Alf's for the last time this season; the other restaurants on the hill will be open for a while longer yet, and then by 2:15 p.m., Frank was "in full effect," as evidenced by the photo above.  Please refer to these prior posts for a full explanation of what Frank is.

Parking lot party

H skied until closing despite the less-than-ideal conditions - the snow had frozen up overnight and although Sunday daytime temperatures were mild, the cloud cover kept things from softening up - and then listened to the band playing in the Wildcat base parking lot for another hour before coming home.  Thus endeth Alta's official 2017/2018 season, not with a bang but with a bit of a whimper.  We think we'll get back up there for a couple more days, conditions-dependent, but at this point we're ready to move on and put this ski season behind us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

never mind spring - here's another 26"

Mother Nature gave northern Utah a late spring gift last week in the form of a big ol' storm that dropped 26" up at Alta Thursday night/Friday.  By all accounts, Friday was a fantastic day to storm-ski.  We couldn't get up there then because of work but we made sure to be up there on time Saturday morning. 

Pretty good coverage in Catherine's Area

Since the ski bus has ended for the season, we had to drive up.  It felt weird, being able to bring multiple pairs of skis and lots of clothing options, but at the same time I was grateful to be able to do so.  I knew I wanted my Rossignols for the morning, when we might be able to find some deep stuff that wasn't too skied-out, but as the day wore on, and the snow got heavier and more clumped up, I'd want to switch to my shorter Salomons.

That's as far as you get in Devil's Castle

Catherine's Area and the Backside had been open on Friday but we figured we could still find some good stuff out in Catherine's.  After a warm-up run on Collins, we went over to Supreme and did a run in our favorite gate off the first Catherine's Area meadow.  We were surprised to find some scratchy spots where the newer snow had blown away, but generally speaking it was pretty good for mid-April.  On our next run, we went all the way in at Catherine's Area, moving past the few other skiers in there.  We took in the view at Catherine's Pass, noting several backcountry skiers skinning up from the Brighton side, then did our run through the glade.  The snow here was fantastic: deep and soft and protected from the wind.

View from Devil's Castle

We did a run in through a lower gate off Rock 'N Roll, going through the trees to come out under the Devil's Apron where a ski patroller and his dog (either Fitz or Lucy) checking things out up there.  Ski Patrol had been working all morning to get Devil's Castle open and when it was, we went in - for our first time all year.  The snow was definitely heavier than it had been out in Catherine's Area but it was still soft and skiable.  I just did one run but H went back in for a second go at it, that time hiking all the way in, as far as he could go, until the rock cliff stopped him.

H shreds the Castle

After lunch, the sun started to heat things up, making the snow heavier, and I did go back to the truck to switch out my skis.  We then skied around from lift to lift, searching out the best conditions and hoping for that buttery snow we'd had last time (not to be found, however).  By 2;30 p.m. my legs were toast and we headed home.  Closing Day (whereby Alta closes for daily operations but re-opens on weekends through the beginning of May) coming right up!

A rare shot of us both.  I need to bend my knees

Friday, April 13, 2018

'Tis the season - springtime - when ski resorts start to close.  Many in Utah have already closed: some earlier than expected due to the low snowpack, like Powder Mountain, others as planned.  There are a few that are still hanging in there but I'm just not sure Alta is going to make it as long as they're hoping too.  The season-to-date snowfall is 335", which is far below their historical average of 500".  Heck, I'm not even sure Alta will hit 400" this year, although the colder storm approaching for the weekend may help towards that goal.  At any rate, this is what's left so if you're still looking to get some turns in, you better get on it sooner rather than later.

From Ski Utah: