Thursday, January 28, 2016

in which we give the day an A

By all accounts, Sunday was quite a successful day.  The little storm that moved in Saturday afternoon continued throughout the night, and then all through the day, bringing Alta a 16" storm total as of closing Sunday afternoon.  Traffic was steady up the canyon with the road a little messy; we had to go up to Alta via the by-pass road - never a fun time - because avalanche danger on Superior caused them to close the road between Snowbird and Alta.  When we pulled into the Wildcat base parking lot at 9:10 a.m., we were surprised - nay, flabbergasted - to see that they were already loading Collins chair.  In fact, they opened the chair at 8:50 a.m.  We weren't the only people who were shocked by that; everyone we talked to, including lifties and old guys who have been skiing Alta for 30+ years, said they have never seen Alta open the lifts early.  We're not sure why they did it but everyone was grateful that they did.

Deep in the Back Forty trees

Because the snow was really quite good.  We did a couple of warm-up runs - me on my Rossignols and H on his GunSmokes - and I knew that I was going to be slow in the deep stuff.  So I cut H loose to ski on his own, with a plan to meet up at Alf's for lunch.  While he tore it up on West Rustler and the Backside, doing laps through East Greely, I went over to Supreme.  I thought about doing a run on Sugarloaf first but the wind was stronger there, leading me to abandon that idea quickly.  There was no one over at Supreme when I got there (in fact, the lift lines were surprisingly short all day, especially given how full the parking lot was at the end of the day).  I did three runs in the Erosion Gullies, getting chest- and face-shots, then following the bottom of Challenger and ducking into the low gates into Vicky's/White Squaw where the snow was super-deep and soft.  I did manage an excellent crash at one point: I must have hit a compression and launched myself out of both of my skis.  I somersaulted out of it and came up laughing and wiping snow off my goggles.  A couple of skiers stopped above my skis (which I fortunately could still see) to check if I was okay so I guess it was at least a little spectacular.  I also spun out and crashed on a Catherine's Area run, catching my edge, spinning around and landing flat on my back with my skis in the air.  There were no witnesses that time.

Looking back up the hill in the Back Forty

Also spectacular:  the poor tourist spotted clinging to a cliff in the Piney Glade area (possibly in Double Top chute, I'm not sure of the name).  As I rode up the chair, I saw a pair of skis and a pole or two at the bottom of a rocky chute.  Above the chute, wedged under a tree and literally clutching the 10-15' rock cliff face was a skier and it was pretty clear that he was wishing he was elsewhere.  A couple of patrollers, on the lift a few chairs ahead of me, were calling out to him and by the time I rode up on my next lift ride, the guy was gone, which I took to be a good sign.  I also think there may have been a couple more "CLIFF AREA" signs in place at that point in the general location.

Supreme lift across lower Supreme Bowl

H and I compared notes at lunch: he thought the snow was a little heavy and thought his skis weren't handling the chop that well; I thought the snow was lighter than last weekend and was having a blast.  After lunch, we continued to ski separately, planning to regroup at 2 p.m.  H did runs in Supreme Bowl, Vicky's/White Squaw, the 3 Bears trees and out to Sunset in Catherine's Area.  I did two Catherine's Area runs (Snowshoe Hill and So Long to Back Forty), a flyer to take a break and then one more So Long/Back Forty.

When we met at the bottom of the Supreme lift, our legs were shot.  We skied out - up Sugarloaf, across the EBT and down Collins, which I found brutal, with the terrible visibility and bumps galore - and made our way down-canyon (again through the by-pass, unfortunately).  At home, showered, snug in clean fleece and sipping Park City Brewery Breaking Trail Ale, we debated the day's grade.  H was inclined to give it an A-, because he thought the snow was a little heavy.  I had had enough fun to stay with a solid A: the only way it could have been better would have been under bluebird skies.

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