Saturday, January 2, 2016

breezing in the new year

New Year's Day 2016 was a chilly one up at Alta.  The ambient temperature wasn't too terrible - beginning around 4 F in the morning and warming up to 20 F in the afternoon - but the wind was ferocious, blowing and blowing and blowing and bringing a windchill of -15 F.  As we drove up the canyon, we could see the snow swirling off the peaks above us; in the Wildcat base parking lot, the flags were out straight in the wind.

Even wearing our light down jackets under our shells, we got cold quickly as we moved from lift to lift, trying to find the one that was most protected from the wind.  H was on his telemark skis again (the first time in years he's allowed me to ski with him when he's on his teles).  With no new snow, we'd be skiing mainly groomers and that meant he could keep practicing his free-heeling.  My feet got cold very quickly, however, so I tried a run in Catherine's Area to warm myself up.  The hike in had the desired warming effect but I skied it terribly - as badly as I've skied in there ever, I think.  I just couldn't get my legs to do what I wanted them to do.

Discouraged and cold, I went into Alf's early for lunch, to nab a table before it got too busy and to warm up my toes.  H was cold too: he only did one extra run before joining me.  Amazingly (strangely), it really never got busy - and we took a long lunch, reluctant to go back outside into the blow.  Perhaps people were staying away because of the cold and the wind and the dearth of new snow, perhaps Californians are enjoying their own mountains for the first time in years.  Regardless, it makes for a much more enjoyable lunchtime when table vultures are not hovering, waiting to pounce if you make any move towards the door.

We skied for a little bit more after lunch.  I tried off-piste again, this time coming onto the bottom of Extrovert via lower Amen, but my legs were still recalcitrant.  H's legs were tiring too - five days in a row of telemark skiing, on top of five days of regular alpine skiing - and we gave up before too long, skiing out through Sunnyside and getting to the truck before 2 p.m.

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