Tuesday, April 21, 2015


We had a monster storm earlier this week - Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday - that dropped about 3.5 feet at Alta; it was reportedly the biggest 24-hour storm in ten years.  We had to work but by all accounts, storm-skiing on Wednesday was magnificent and just what people have been waiting for all season this year.  One of my coworkers went up to Snowbird on Thursday, reporting massive crowds and deep turns in snow that got heavier and heavier with every turn as the day warmed up.  That storm was so important for this area: while it didn't make up for all the precipitation we need, the water is welcome and the late spring coverage will help Alta and Snowbird finish out their seasons.  We even got several inches on the lawn at home on Wednesday, just enough to cover up all the dandelions for a few hours.

Chunky and heavy in Yellow Trail

We headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon at a leisurely hour on Saturday, getting on our first chair a little before 10 a.m.  It was not at all crowded (although Sunday probably will be, since it is the next-to-last weekend for Alta and all the crazies will come out to play) and the sun was out.  It was warmer than the last couple of weekends, even with a light breeze blowing, and for once I did okay with my clothing selection; I was a little hot when we got off-piste but at least I wasn't cold.  We did a couple runs off Collins to start, a groomer and then a run through the newly-opened Ballroom.  The groomer skied very well with the new snow and no scraped-off or icy patches; the Ballroom was pretty good too, except for the very slow newbies on the traverse that we had to pass.

Those skies, though

We moved on to Sugarloaf, where they had just opened Devil's Castle for the first time since the storm, but we changed our minds and immediately took the EBT back around to Collins to give the Backside a try.  Oof.  That was a struggle.  All the new snow is rapidly melting and compressing in the bright spring sunshine, and because it is new snow and hasn't gone through many freeze/thaw cycles, when it gets warm it gets extremely heavy and very sticky.  While it would have been ideal snowman-making snow, it made for challenging skiing, especially for me.  H can power through it but I'm just not big or strong enough.  I have to push really hard against the snow to make any turns (which is fatiguing) and hitting big clumps either stops me short or knocks me over.  Even the groomers got difficult for me as the day went on:  the new snow is so sticky that it grabs our badly unwaxed skis, and I skied lurching down the slopes, feeling like I was going to go over the handlebars at any given moment.

Still some untracked in Devil's Castle
at this point

We made the best of the conditions, of course, because it feels wrong to complain on the heels of that lovely storm and underneath those gorgeous blue skies.  We did one hike/run into Devil's Castle where I managed about seven nice, flowing turns before floundering in the lower, stickier slopes.  We cruised past Supreme lift to say hello and did a cabin run before lunch.  After lunch we went back to Collins for a couple of hours, doing our best to avoid the stickiest spots; Aggie's Alley fared the best of the major runs, while Corkscrew was a sticky, clumpy mess.

So nice to see snow again!

My legs fatigued very quickly, doing battle with the slow, heavy snow and by 2:30 p.m. I had to call it quits.  The breeze had picked up by then, making it cool - but not too cold to drink a beer while sitting on the truck's tailgate.  As we enjoyed our apres, we watched a couple people pick their way down High Rustler and wondered if we should maybe put that on our list for Sunday.

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