Tuesday, March 10, 2015

and back to spring skiing

Northern Utah finally got a storm worth the wait this past Monday night and Tuesday: after dropping 52" (!!) down south at Brian Head, the weather moved north and brought the Wasatch Front around two feet of snow.  Lots of people called in sick on Tuesday and Wednesday; all reports were that the skiing was fantastic - just what we had been missing all winter.  The storm didn't stick around that long, however, and a high pressure system installed itself for the weekend.  High pressure means bright blue skies, no new snow and warmer temperatures.  Spring skiing has returned!

Looking towards Brighton from above Catherine's Pass

H went back east for a few days to help his folks move so I was on my own for skiing.  Saturday came in clear and warm and the traffic was pretty steady moving up Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Given the traffic, I assumed that Alta would be as busy as it has been the last couple of weekends.  Happily, I ended up being wrong about that: there were substantial lift lines at Sugarloaf and Supreme before lunch but not so afterwards.  One of the lifties remarked, with some relief in his voice, that today seemed more like a normal weekend crowds-wise than we've had lately.

Dark blue skies over East Greeley

I started my ski day with a couple of runs off Collins, taking one warm-up run down a groomer and then one through Ballroom which was soft and chunky.  I immediately noticed that I wasn't skiing off-piste very well.  Next was a run on the Backside: the traverse out to East Greeley was a bit of a mess with lots of whoop-de-doos but the skiing was pretty good, again soft and chunky and not yet sun-baked.  After that I rode up Sugarloaf and hiked into Devil's Castle which was, yet again, soft and chunky and I continued to ski terribly.  I scooted over to Supreme where I immediately tried a Catherine's Run, traversing out to the middle meadow.  The top parts of Catherine's were still soft, the slopes on a good angle away from the sun, but the bottom run out was still a frozen crust from melting in the afternoon sun the day before.

H's and my secret ski spot in Catherine's Area

I took an early and quick lunch, not needing to linger to warm up - I had found myself overdressed from my very first run - and not wanting to hog a whole table for too long.  I rode up Sugarloaf and skied back to Supreme where I decided to stick to the groomers for a while to work on my technique.  My Salomons are not quite as easy to turn as my old Volkls and I have been lifting up my inside foot when I turn - a bad habit that I need to break.  As the afternoon wore on, the groomers (Challenger, No. 9 Express and Sleepy Hollow) started getting softer and more fun to ski.  East Castle was open but I saw that the climb had been put in as a side-step and not a boot-pack, and I just couldn't get psyched up for slogging up there on my own.  There were plenty of other people willing to do it though.  I did a couple more runs in Catherine's Area, all the way out to H's and my favorite spot. The snow was still good there and I went slowly, practicing turning without lifting my feet.  The run out had softened up nicely at this point in the day, the moguls were big and super-soft corn snow.

I skied out slightly before 3 p.m., had a PBR while de-booting at the car and then drove down canyon for home.  My plans for the rest of the day were not too overwhelming: doing a load of laundry, calling H with the ski report, turning the clocks ahead in eager anticipation of Daylight Savings Time and treating myself to Chinese take-out for dinner.

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