Tuesday, February 24, 2015

oh, so that's what skiing on snow is like

Considering we really hadn't had any snow since early January, can you blame me for forgetting how to ski in deep stuff?  For over a month I'd been falling back into my eastern-style habits.  But then, finally, a snowstorm arrived in northern Utah.  The Cottonwood canyons got the best of it: three inches on Friday, another six inches overnight and then perhaps another four inches during the day Saturday.  Alta said Saturday started out with nine inches but dang, in places it was a BIG nine inches, well over my knees in spots and plenty of face shots for everyone.  Temperatures were good too: mid 20s at the base and 14-17 F at the summits.

Knee deep!

It was snowing on and off (probably mostly on) all day, especially over at Supreme, and I finally got to wear almost all my new stuff at once: new-to-me Flylow jacket, new Free the Powder mittens (really like those), new-ish ski pants, new skis.  I ended up being overdressed for whenever we hiked into Catherine's Area - after over a month of cruising groomer I'd also forgotten how warm you get when you ski off-piste - but it got cool on the lifts and groomers, even with my down vest.  The canyon road was clear all the way up but the Wildcat/Collins base parking lot nearly halfway full when we got up there at 9:15 a.m.  Clearly people were psyched for the new snow!

Awkward action shot!

We did one warm-up run at Collins but then went straight to Supreme, hoping the ropes would be down at Catherine's.  Ski patrol actually had quite a lot of terrain open right away, even with all that new snow sitting on top of the hard, old snowpack.  Catherine's Area was open, as was the Backside and the High Traverse, typical trouble spots; Devil's Castle was the only major area that remained closed.  Catherine's was quite popular but it truly stayed awesome all day: deep, over my knees in most places.  I had to keep reminding myself that since I was wearing goggles, I didn't have to close my eyes for face shots.  We did runs in Sunset first, ducking into the trees to skier's left after swooping through the meadow; later, we kept going further and further in, searching out less trafficked spots.

Note the snow stuck under my goggles

Although the snow on top was lovely, we were able to ski down to the scratchy hard pack underneath.  It was better to ski steeper stuff too because the flats stopped me dead in my tracks; I was on my Salomons, which were wrong for the deep, untracked stuff we were getting out in Catherine's Area, but which served me well once things got clumped up.   Because I wasn't skiing my Rossignols, my legs got fatigued from trying to turn the narrower Salomons in the deep snow.  Still, we managed to closed the Supreme lift and then skied out, finishing up around 4 p.m., my poor legs hollering at the giant bumps on Corkscrew.

Saturday's summary:  I was overdressed and under-skied but it was a great day anyway.  Hooray for new snow!

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