Tuesday, March 3, 2015


After the thirteen inches of new snow from a week ago, Little Cottonwood Canyon got another seven or so on Thursday.  The weather pattern is changing a bit and we've got some storms moving through the area which won't drop a ton on northern Utah (Brian Head, Telluride and Taos are where you want to be for the deep stuff right now) but every couple of inches refreshes and makes a big difference.  It was cloudy with extremely flat light upon our arrival at Wildcat base on Saturday morning, with cold temperatures of 24 F at the base and 12 F at the summit.  These temperatures would stay pretty consistent throughout the day, increasing just a degree or two and ensuring that our toes got cold.

It was also fairly windy on the first chair ride out of Collins so H suggested that we moved directly to Supreme where it is often more protected from the wind.  We stayed at Supreme for most of the day, alternating Catherine's Area runs with flyers.  Both No. 9 Express and Sleepy Hollow were pretty awful (skied off) and the flat light made it very difficult to see.  Our first run into Catherine's Area was one of my least favorite Catherine's Area runs ever: we skied the rope line down Sunset where the light was horrible and the bumps were huge, with bobsled runs  around the bases of the moguls. We went in further for the rest of our Catherine's Area runs and our favorite spot, what we call "all the way in," was quite good.

For some reason, Alta was crazy-busy with skiers.  We have never seen so many people going into Catherine's Area - hordes of people, many clueless about how to traverse.  On one run alone I had to yell at the same two women twice to not stop on the traverse.  Finally, after they stopped for a third time and I ran into the guy ahead of me with more people stacking up behind me, I uttered an F-bomb and skied off the traverse, dropping into the trees and shaking my head at a bemused H.  Lunch was also crazy-crowded; we went in a little early, to beat the rush, and then circled for nearly thirty minutes before finally scoring a table at Alf's.  We considered going back out to do more runs, but at this point both of us had really cold feet and needed a warm-up.


After lunch, we did a cabin run off where we found FUNLAND: an impressive snow fort that someone has dug out, hidden in the woods not far from the Supreme cut-off, with tunnels and wind chimes and a bird feeder and lawn chairs and posted rules (like, pack out your beer cans, pee away from the fort, ski fast and have fun).  We then rode back up Sugarloaf and skied back to Supreme for the rest of the afternoon.  It had started snowing before lunch and all afternoon the snow came down, sometimes fairly heavily.  Although Alta later reported only an inch of afternoon accumulation, it was definitely starting to stack up and fill our off-piste tracks in between runs.  Something else filling up?  The fat and happy porcupine we saw on one of our last Catherine's Area runs.  Another skier had spotted the critter perched on a pine bough, methodically eating away the branch's bark, and pointed him out to us; we never ever would have noticed otherwise.

Can you spot the porcupine?

We closed the Supreme chair at 3:30 p.m. and then skied out.  That last run was difficult for me: the flat light made for very poor visibility and the trails were both skied off and clumped up.  I'm not big and strong enough to ski through the clumps so I hit them and get bounced off.  My tired legs and sore knees were complaining pretty loudly by the time I got through Corkscrew.  We were heading down the canyon a little after 4 p.m. and the snow continued all the way down to the valley floor.  As we hung up our wet stuff we figured it could be a busy day on Sunday - everyone is hungry for snow!

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