Monday, March 31, 2014

annual ski guests, 2014 edition: day 2

Sunday started out less than we expected and ended up pretty darn good.  All the weather forecasts said that snow was coming: the winds we've been having were the forerunners of the cold front, which would bring snow to the Wasatch late morning, with it getting heavy in the afternoon and finally petering out in the evening as the front moved eastwards.  Predicted totals ranged from 3"-7" (National Weather Service), 5"-10" (Wasatch Snow Forecast) and 6"-12" (Alta).  C announced that he figured he only had about five hours in his legs so we decided to go up late and plan to ski through until closing.  We got up there after 10 a.m. to fairly warm temperatures, overcast skies and very strong winds.  Clearly not many other people thought these were good skiing condition as the parking lot was less than one-third full and the parking lot attendants were conspicuously absent.

New ski pants in Catherine's Area

We rode through a brief spate of graupel on our first chair ride, swirling through the winds.  There had been no new snow overnight and today's storm didn't seem to be coming any time soon, so we headed over to Supreme where the chairlift tends to be more protected in strong winds.  The conditions weren't great (same as Saturday: bumped up and a little crunchy) but we made the best of it, trying some of the lower chutes in Supreme Bowl.  The bumps were big and forced us to ski certain lines.  C suggested that we try way, way deep into Catherine's Area.  Fighting against the headwind, we went all the way in and indeed found the best snow of the weekend there, deep and soft and not much tracked out.  We did several more runs in Catherine's, consistently finding pretty good snow the further out we went.

A and C discuss possible lines

Since we'd had a late start, we went in late for lunch (after 1:00 p.m.).  As we munched our french fries in Alf's, the called-for snowstorm finally rolled in.  Better late than never!  It started snowing really hard and by the time we finished lunch, it was actually starting to accumulate.  Because of the winds, they were running the Sugarloaf lift slow, so we hopped on the little Cecret lift which took us back to Supreme.  As the snow kept falling, the conditions kept getting better.  Challenger, No. Nine Express and the gullies got coated with smooth snow; the wind blew snow drifts into the Supreme Bowl chutes.  Catherine's Area got quite good and we did runs in there until they closed it at 3 p.m., at which point we switched to the chutes until they closed the chairlift at 3:30 p.m.

Storm ridin'

We moved over to the Sugarloaf lift, now running at regular speed, and did a couple of runs there - there were so few people skiing that the snow was even starting to pile up on the groomers - until that chair closed at 4 p.m.  Finally, we were forced to take the rope tow back to Wildcat base.  The guys took one more run off Collins while I went to the truck to thaw my frozen toes (the temperature had dropped to 24 F at this point, making the snow fairly dry for the end of March).  The drive down canyon was a little sketchier than we thought it would be as the snow level dropped all the way to the valley floor, but we got home safe and sound.  Looking back up towards the mountains, it appeared to still be snowing hard with no sign of stopping anytime soon.  That would be ideal: a late start and a late finish could mean fresh tracks for us on Monday.

Possibly the last ice beard of the season

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