Wednesday, April 15, 2015

spring has sprung

This is how you know it's springtime at Alta - because you start seeing things.  Weird things, like skiing bananas, 1980s ski outfit, dragons and girafficorns.  You also see things like the local porcupine way up in a tree next to the Supreme chair and an avalanche dog, barking with joy while getting a piggyback ride down the mountain on the shoulders of a patroller.  But it's the weirdness, like the girl skiing whilst carrying her pet rabbit (a real life ski bunny!), that really lets you know spring has come to Alta.

Alta reported 32F at 5 a.m. so we knew it would be warmer than the last weekend.  I would have been fine in my layers (without hand warmers) except that I did an unfortunate last minute base layer change and should have stuck with my Under Armour shirt.  We figured that it would be more crowded on Saturday than it has been, given the midweek storm that dropped ten new inches in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon, plus Alta was having Demo Days (with lots of indie reps including 4FRNT, Icelantic, Moment, Soul Poles, RAMP, Kitten Factory, etc.)  Despite it being slightly warmer to start, things had still set up overnight so we started off our ski day at Sugarloaf.  There really weren't many people and the snow softened with each run, although thin clouds were building so it would only soften so far.  We skied there until about 11 a.m., ending up with a run down Extrovert.

We then moved to Supreme where Not-Ben* greeted us with a "How you guys doin' today?"  Challenger was in rough shape at this point with "natural melt" down to dirt and grass nearly all the way across.  It was still open but patrol had signs up warning folks of the poor conditions.  Patrol had also been busy shooting up East Castle all morning, trying to knock loose any potential snow slides, and now lots of people were hiking up and skiing down, which was entertaining to watch from the chair.

After lunch, we rode Sugarloaf up and took the EBT around to Collins - but we were horsing around on the EBT and the basket to one of my poles fell off, so we had to go all the way back down to get on the Sugarloaf chair and ski back around the EBT again to pick it up.  We stayed at Collins for the afternoon, doing laps and staying on Mambo, Main Street and Aggie's Alley.  At this point clouds had built up but it was warm enough that the snow continued to soften, with Corkscrew very heavy and sticky by the end.  We skied until after 3:30 p.m. and then had quick beers on the tailgate as the ski reps packed up their skis.

*  Obviously everyone tends to be bundled up in the cold of winter, including the Alta employees.  There were a couple of new lifties at Supreme this year who looked kind of similar: short guys with beards, wearing hats and goggles/sunglasses.  One of them had a name tag and was Ben (from Vermont, which we learned when we rode the lift with him one time).  The other one never, ever wore a name tag and so I called him, in conversation with H, "Not-Ben."  

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