Monday, April 4, 2016

tick tock

Tick tock.  That's the sound of the clock winding down on the ski season.  Most of Utah's ski resorts will close next weekend (April 10); Snowbird isn't saying when it's going to close - currently, "open for winter" - but they are always the last, stretching the season to Memorial Day at least.  Alta's very last day will be April 24, but their first closing day (the one with the big party) is April 17: they will then be closed during the week. reopening for that last weekend.  It's gone so quickly this year.  It seems like it was just February and here we are, into April, with goddamn dandelions popping up in our yard.  (No wonder I prefer winter: no dandelions.)

Coming down through the Ballroom

After another midweek storm that dropped up to three feet in spots along the Wasatch, Alta's base is at 112 inches, perfectly respectable.  Wednesday had been the day for pow and we knew that things would be tracked out by the time we got up there on Saturday.  The skies were perfectly clear and blue, there was hardly any wind and the sun would strengthen mightily throughout the day - a gorgeous day for spring skiing.  Even better, there was hardly anyone there for some reason and we were able to ski right onto the lifts more often than not.

I never ever get tired of this view

It was a little firm to start as H, back on his teles, and I cruised the Collins side for four runs.  Above us, Baldy had been well-skied, showing tracks all across its face and down through its chutes.  I tried one run through the Ballroom, finding it chunky and not quite as soft as I had hoped.  We switched to Sugarloaf and skied together there for a couple of runs.  At a different angle to the sun, some of those trails were starting to soften up.  Extrovert, which was not getting sun-softened, still skied pretty good, having been groomed the night before.

112" base, baby

We split up for an hour before lunch, H staying at Sugarloaf while I went over to Supreme.  I could hear skiers clattering over some frozen ruts coming out of Catherine's Area and decided to hold off on that until after lunch.  No. 9 Express and Sleepy Hollow needed some additional warming as well; Challenger wasn't too bad and I knew it would soften quickly in the sun.  This was one of the few days at Alta where absolutely everything was open, including Supreme Bowl, Devil's Castle, Baldy and East Castle.  There was a well-trodden side-step put in up East Castle and lots of people were availing themselves of it.  I was leering of skiing it without H so instead I went into a high gate off Upper Big Dipper.  Although there was still a bunch of untracked snow in there, I was a little disappointed to find that there was a thin crust on top of it all: I could push through fine going straight but turning was difficult.  I came back out onto Rock N' Roll as soon as I could and confirmed with myself that I would not be doing East Castle.

Amazingly, I had Catherine's
Area all to myself

After lunch H skied with me on Supreme.  I did give Catherine's Area a go and found it very heavy.  Not enough people had skied it so it was chunked up and I wasn't strong enough to push through it, bouncing off the clumps instead.  Back on the groomers, things were getting soft, sticky and heavy quickly - tough on tired legs.  H skied until 2:30 and I met him at the truck shortly thereafter, both of us with shaky legs from the exertion.  Such is spring skiing with its changeable conditions.  Also a part of spring skiing: a couple of beers on the tailgate of the truck, of course.

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