Friday, April 8, 2016

sticky stuff

The weather guys ended up nailing the weekend forecast: full sun on Saturday; partly sunny but warmer on Sunday.  Regardless of how much sun there was in the sky, it was full-on spring skiing at Alta.  Because of the very heavy snow, H decided to switch to his alpine gear for Sunday.  I have really admired his dedication to telemark this year, even though it has meant that I haven't skied with him all that much.  Of course, this time, with him back on his Blizzard Cochises, we weren't skiing together that much either as it was more me trying to keep him in sight.  Still, we rode most chairlift rides together.

Conditions started off fairly fast on frozen corduroy, although we could tell that it was going to soften up very quickly.  We did four runs on Collins - including one down a new groomer track, through Sunspot, down to the top of Corkscrew - and the conditions were pretty firm.  I thought Corkscrew was a bit of a mess towards the bottom, where they had chunked up the ice into what we referred to back East as "frozen death cookies."  I found this hard on my legs and feet and after four times through it, had had enough.

H wanted to do a couple more runs on the front side so we planned to meet up on Sugarloaf in a bit.  There was scarcely anyone skiing so I found him again easily after two runs.  The snow was much softer on this side and even Extrovert was skiing well, particularly soft on skier's right.  By 11:00 a.m., however, it was already getting heavy and people were falling all over the place, getting caught up in the clumps.

With all the telemark skiing he has been focusing on, H hasn't been off-piste very much, so on our first Sugarloaf chairlift ride together, he suggested running around the EBT and going into the Backside.  It was extremely soft in there, but not as heavy as I thought it might be.  Still, I skipped going through the Glitch/Glatch chutes at the bottom, opting for an end run down below.  On the next chair ride (and we were all but skiing right onto the lift each time), I suggested that we give Devil's Castle a try, seeing how H hadn't been in there hardly at all.  We passed three people on the traverse and then picked our spot to descend in the Sugar Mountain area.  The snow was quite deep - H got stuck for a moment when his skis dove into a soft patch; he may have had snow in his helmet for a few minutes until it melted in the sun - and heavy; I struggled and flailed in it.

The skies are even bluer than my softshell

After lunch, we move on to Supreme, doing a Challenger run (soft but with people on it) before heading into Catherine's Area.  As had happened for me the day before, we had it to ourselves - a far cry from those stormy January days when it seemed like everyone on the mountain was in there.  We went in as far as Snowshoe Hill and went down through there.  H pushed through the soft, heavy snow like a hero but my legs were fatigued at this point, and I skied it terribly.  When I caught up with H at the bottom of the pitch, I just shook my head.  There are some runs when I feel like I'm a good skier and then there are runs like that one when I wonder why I ever bother strapping those boards to my feet.

From that point on in the day, it just got hot, even with the gathering clouds.  The snow got incredibly sticky, grabbing our skis even on the pitches and slowing me to a near stop on the flats.  I suggested that we go back to Collins, where it gets the sun later and maybe the snow wouldn't be so sticky, but on our run down, I just barely kept from a massive wipeout when the snow yanked at my left ski.  I told H that I was done for the day, not wanting to risk wrenching a knee or my back, and he was perfectly willing to join me at the Goldminer's Daughter for a PBR.  That's the thing about spring skiing: when you're done with the skiing, there's still plenty of sun to be had on the patio.

Editorial note:  The next post will be slightly delayed due to a conflicting schedule.  Not to worry, however, as there will still be skiing at Alta and reporting thereupon.

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