Friday, April 22, 2016

may the frank be with you

Alta sent out a tweet this morning, first thing:  "Closing day #1.  Today we Frank."  This refers to the 6th 2nd Annual Frank World Ski Classic (I'm assuming it's the 6th 2nd Annual this year since last year was the 5th 2nd Annual.  And no, I can't explain why it's named that way), the afternoon party and ski competition/show-off fest that happens on Alta's first closing day of the season, before the last run of the day down High Rustler (or "High Boy," if you're local).  But first, there was some skiing to be done!

The weather was pretty much identical to Saturday's, a little less windy perhaps, maybe a tiny bit sunnier.  I switched jackets back and forth a couple of times, trying to get my layers right.  My toes were cold all day but there was enough sun to work on my goggle tan so we're going to call it good.  Conditions had set up overnight so that it was a little frozen.  We stuck to the groomers all morning with one notable exception: when ski patrol cleared Devil's Castle and dropped the rope.

Good stuff in Devil's Castle

All day Saturday we had been eyeing Devil's Castle and hoping that patrol would do a morning route to clear the avalanches.  Ski patrol came through and we joined the long line on the traverse.  We didn't go in very far, not caring to sidestep along in the line any longer than we had to, but when we dropped in, we found wonderful snow, even in that first section below Sugar Shoulder.  The snow was decently deep, probably around eight inches, soft and extremely easy to ski in - even for me.  We went straight down to the cliffs above Cecret Lake, then cut to skier's right and went out through the trees into Boulder Basin.  In the trees the snow was soft and light; out in the sun it had settled enough that I could ski right on top without breaking through.  Super fun all the way around.  H went back and did another run in the Castle while I begged off: I figured it wouldn't get better than that one run I did, plus my right quad was feeling like I might have pulled it a bit.

Revelers in line for the little
two-seater Wildcat lift

After lunch we did one run down Extrovert, which was finally starting to soften up, and then headed back to Collins to see what was going on there.  The party was kicking into gear with all sorts of costumed skiers queuing up to get on the Wildcat lift.  Notable costumes included Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Elmo, Cookie Monster, hotdogs, tacos, Gumby, dragons, lots of spandex and bedazzling, vintage 80s one-pieces and an excellent pale blue tuxedo.  There are so many weirdos at Alta.  I just love it.

Ringside seats

Rather than standing in that monster line, we did a couple more runs off the Collins lift before we noticed that some people were traversing all the way around to get to the Frank party, from the top of Collins, across the Ballroom to the Shoulder Traverse, under Baldy Shoulder to the top of the Wildcat lift.  People seemed to be making pretty good time doing that so we thought we'd give that a try, rather than waiting in line for the Wildcat lift.  The traverse was extremely gnarly in spots and we had to navigate around some giggly, drunk-ish girls in purple spandex at one point, but we made it around quickly and skied down to find a good perch to observe the shenanigans.

There's a guy in green in the center, mid-air

There's a fair amount of shenanigans up there at Frank: people are definitely out to party.  But the crowd was also very appreciative of the competitors who were hurtling down a monster bumps run at the edge of Punch Bowl and then throwing themselves off one of the five or six jumps that had been painstakingly built.  Any little kid who gave it a try got cheers from the audience and the biggest roars of approval came for (a) the couple of guys who did front flips (instead of the more plebeian backflips) and (b) the several naked skiers, including one topless chick.

A whole conga line on the bumps run

We watched for about an hour, until the clouds rolled back in and began spitting snow.  We skied out, toasted Closing Day #1 with a tailgate beer, then headed down canyon after inching our way out of our very tight parking spot.  Lots of people had come up for Closing Day #1.  Three more days of lift-serviced skiing at Alta remaining in the season - we're hoping to get two more of them.

Party on, Frank

No comments:

Post a Comment