Saturday, February 6, 2016

outskied by our dentist

We're in a ridging spell right now - in which high pressure parks itself over the area, keeping the snowstorms away and warming things up in the mountains - but before that happened, the weather gave us a wonderful present.  One last storm rolled through Thursday night and completely over-produced (i.e., did better than forecasted): Big Cottonwood Canyon got about five inches but Little Cottonwood Canyon got thirteen!  Bringing Alta (albeit briefly) to a 100-inch base!  By all accounts, Friday's skiing was wonderful, with blue skies above and blower pow underfoot.  Both H and I had to work but you're darn right that we got out there Saturday for the remnants.  As we were putting on our boots in the parking lot, our dentist pulled into the spot next to us.  He said he had left his family behind and was going solo today - we think that he probably doesn't get to ski all that often and was hoping to make the most of the time he had.

Plenty of snow at the top of Gunsight

The first ride up Collins showed us that it had been busy at Alta on Friday: things were definitely tracked out.  We could hear ski patrol setting off charges, however; they were working through Devil's Castle, trying to get it open.  After a couple of ski days skiing separately, we decided that we should ski together for a change.  But after two warm-up runs, when H said that we should give Gunsight, I got a little nervous and opted out, telling him to go do it and report back on the conditions of the traverse when we joined up for lunch.  So while he did Gunsight (the traverse was absolutely fine and not rocky as I feared and the snow in the chute on the other side of the ridge was very good) and several runs on the Backside (including East Greely and Keyhole, which was also very good), I moved on to Supreme.

Eddie's High Nowhere

My legs were feeling a little puny for some reason and muscling my Rossignols through the giant moguls in the Vicky's/White Squaw chutes wasn't helping.  Catherine's Area was a little better: although tracked out, the snow was very soft and easily skied.  I did one run through Snowshoe Hill and one down the So Long ropeline and into the Back Forty trees.  The snow was pretty well chunked-up in there but still soft.

Keyhole, looking better than it has in a long time

During lunch, we watched the ski patrollers continue their work in Devil's Castle and then, at about 12:30 p.m., they dropped the rope.  H said that people had been lined up for literally hours, waiting to get in there; we rode up the Sugarloaf chair and the line of skiers sidestepping up and into the Castle stretched around the corner and out onto the EBT.  We did a Cabin Run - grabbing untracked snow nearly the whole way - and then went up Sugarloaf again to see how the line looked.  It was shorter but still long and when H hopped in it, I bailed, not willing to deal with the mass of humanity.

Line of folks sidestepping in the Castle

I went back to Supreme and did some laps down Rock N' Roll, traversing in through the avalanche control gates and making my way through the excellent snow in the trees of Apron Bench.  I found H around 2:45 p.m. at the top of Supreme: he'd done three runs through Devil's Castle because it was so good, finding fantastic snow each time.  Our legs were toast and we skied out, getting back to the truck around 3 p.m.  Our dentist's SUV was still there so it was evident that he was having a very good day too.

Yay skiing!

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