Saturday, March 29, 2014

annual ski guests, 2014 edition: day 1

After some last minute work-related rescheduling, our annual ski guest (only C this year, as A couldn't make it) arrived midday Friday, telemark skis in hand and ready for three days of skiing.  We'd had a wonderful storm earlier in the week that dropped a reported sixteen (!!!) inches in Little Cottonwood Canyon before moving out Friday morning.  Although the timing of the storm meant that we wouldn't get fresh tracks anywhere, not to mention the late March date meant the snow would be heavy and not fluffy, that much snow is always welcome.

The forecast was for partly sunny skies, growing cloudy in the afternoon as the next storm moved into place, with warm temperatures and gusty winds.  We didn't rush out of the house in the morning, trying to give whatever snow might have frozen up overnight the chance to soften a little.  We pulled into the parking lot at the Goldminer's Daughter around quarter to 10 and it was only about a third full.  Clearly folks have shifted gears and are not so much thinking about skiing these days.  That, plus all the locals probably called in sick on Friday to get all the freshies - as there were none left for us.  Even without the opportunity for fresh snow, the conditions were still pretty good for late March.  Ballroom, the Baldy Chutes, Devil's Castle and East Castle were all still closed, due to the recent storm and the current winds ushering in the next storm, but everything else was open.  The groomers were nice and quiet; the off-piste stuff was variable: a little crunchy wherever it had baked in the Friday afternoon sun, super-soft and deep in the trees and shady spots.

C catching his breath in Gunsight

After getting out of Collins, we did several runs on Sugarloaf, with the boys getting into the Keyhole and all of us playing around on Chartreuse Nose.  We did a run through Cecret Saddle and headed over to Supreme, where we poked around in Catherine's Area and Supreme Bowl for a while.  Again, the snow was variable: fantastically deep and soft in amongst the trees and less so where it had baked in the sun.  We took a quick lunch break at Alf's, then moved back to Collins.  I changed my skis - swapping out my Rossignols for my Volkls - and the guys took a run.  I waited for them for longer than I thought I would and when I finally spotted them heading my way along the rope tow, I realized that they had taken the High Traverse and done a run off the backside.  They confirmed this, having chatted up the patroller they rode the lift with, who told them that Gunsight was full of great snow.  When we got to the top of Collins, it was determined that that run was good enough to do it again.  Off we went: the sidestep up to the cut through the ridge was a little sketchy but the chute itself was great, stuffed to the edges with soft (albeit tracked out) snow.  The only problem was the run-out at the bottom, which was sunbaked, chunky and very difficult to turn in.  H had no problem but C, with his sea-level lungs, and I, with my puny legs, didn't much care for it.

Poised in the Gunsight notch

The clouds had moved in around lunchtime and as the afternoon wore on, the light got very flat.  We tried to go back to the Chartreuse Nose run we'd had success with, but it wasn't nearly as good as it had been in the morning.  A few more front side runs (the tree skiing was holding up well) and then we called it quits a little after 3:00 p.m.  The clouds were building ominously as we headed down canyon - the forecast was calling for storm skiing on Sunday, and a predicted 5-9 inches.

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