Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the little storm that could

We were not entirely psyched up about the storm that was due to hit Friday night; despite dropping big snow on California, the folks in the know were only predicting 3-6 inches here in the Wasatch.  So when H ended up having to get on a conference call for work Saturday morning at 8 a.m., we were disappointed but not distraught, knowing that we weren't missing out on anything deep.  While H was on the phone, B and I took care of holiday-type stuff - running errands, packing boxes for mailing back east, stopping by the neighborhood holiday food drive/get-together (last year here).  By the time H got off his call around noon, we decided to write off the day and get after it on Sunday.  It rained and snained (snow-rain) off and on in the valley all through the rest of the afternoon, and it remained socked in up the canyon - which is always a good sign.

Sunday morning we got up to go skiing.  The storm had stuck around all night, dropping about seven inches (already more than had been forecasted) and it was pretty chilly up there, mandating some thought on my part about (1) layers and (2) skis.  I ended up taking a risk on some new gear: my new (2014) Salomon Pure White skis and my new (to me) Flylow shell.  I figured the new snow was enough to cover some rocks but not so deep that I would need my powder skis; I wore my heavy long john bottoms, an UnderArmor base layer, plus a light fleece, plus a down vest, plus the Flylow.  Both would end up being the right calls.

I like the snowflakes caught mid-air in front of my jacket

Supreme lift had opened on Friday so I headed straight there, riding up Collins, through Sugarloaf and over to Supreme.  It was pretty quiet over there - avalanche control bombs in Supreme Bowl notwithstanding - and I did some laps while H finished up some work stuff.  The groomers were in great shape.  The ungroomed runs, like Challenger and Upper Sleepy Hollow, were puff on crust: the new snow was lovely but hid rock-hard moguls underneath.  I skied both groomers and bumpy runs, trying out my new Salomons.  I liked them a lot: they were very turn-y and the wide tips didn't submarine in the deeper stuff.  Success!

When H caught up to me, they had just opened Catherine's Area and of course we went in - with lots of other people.  The beginning of the traverse was pretty rough and I managed to ding up my brand new skis several times both on the traverse and on just-covered rocks deeper in.  But the snow was light and in pretty good shape, and we ended up going in three times.  I still have the bad habit of picking up my inside ski when I turn in deeper snow - something else to work on.

After a late lunch break, we moved over to Sugarloaf.  There was only one run open, however, and there were snow guns running the whole way down.  We did a couple runs and then moved over to the front side to see how Collins was holding up.  The snow was okay but the visibility was terrible: low clouds and very flat light.  The wind was picking up and the temperature seemed to be dropping ... we decided that enough was enough and called it a day.  By late Sunday afternoon, Alta was reporting 14 inches thus far (with the storm not calling it quits yet) - that's the best 3-6" I ever saw.

PS - Hopefully soon we'll be skiing enough to get back into the habit of two posts a week.  We just need the weather/snow to cooperate.

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