Monday, December 12, 2016

storm skiing

They had been talking about this storm for days - fairly slow-moving with lots of water in it - and although it seemed to hit the Wasatch Front later than expected, it definitely delivered.  When we got up Saturday, the mountains were all socked in and we knew it was snowing up there even though it was just raining down in the valley.  The forecast said that the snow would start slow and then get heavier in the afternoon, then continue through the overnight before moving out on Sunday.  That meant storm skiing on Saturday and storm skiing is awesome for two reasons: because the conditions improve throughout the day AND because people don't like skiing when it snows.  This would mean no lift lines/skiing right onto the lifts throughout the day.

Because it was a little warm, the snow levels were up above 7,000 feet, so that the canyon road was clear until we got past Snowbird.  After that it was a little slippery but we pulled into the Wildcat Base with no issues and with the parking lot less than a third full.  Alta had gotten nearly a foot of snow since we'd been up there last and so things were beginning to fill in.  It was snowing - sharp, prickly ice bits - and the gusty wind was definitely moving things around.  But it was fairly warm (upper 20s) and as soon as we moved off the groomers, we warmed right up.  My feet hardly got cold for the entire day - amazing.

We are still suffering from poor leg fitness and did a couple of runs on Collins's groomers before heading into Racecourse and Sunspot.  The snow was quite good in there, if you didn't mind dodging a few rocks in the especially-windswept spots.  After that, I couldn't wait any longer and struck out on my own for Supreme, which had just opened on Friday, with H planning to take a couple more Collins runs and then meet me over there.  My first ride up Supreme was with a chatty ski patroller (who chastised me for not wearing my fat skis) who recommended the tops of the Gullies and Catherine's.  I took him at his word and went down the Gullies, then following lower Sleepy Hollow out.  I went wide on my next run, Big Dipper (Rock N' Roll was closed for avalanche control), and then spotted H coming up to the lift just as I was loading onto a chair.

Snowing on Devil's Elbow

I waited for H in the wind on top of Supreme and we went into Catherine's Area.  The very first little boot-pack up was a bit of a struggle since it hadn't been groomed and we were postholing in others' footsteps.  But once we got in there, the snow was absolutely terrific ... and that patroller was right - my wider Rossignols would have been a much better choice.  After lunch, the wind seemed to die just a little bit and the snow picked up.  We did some Sugarloaf runs, then back to Supreme for No. 9 Express, Challenger (and skiing the rope line to the right at the bottom of Challenger was really fun), Sleepy Hollow, etc.

Around 2 p.m., the combination of my legs getting fatigued and not wanting to drive down the canyon on a very snowy road urged us to call it an early day.  We skied out through Sunnyside (the EBT was closed for avalanche control) and along the rope tow back to Wildcat base.  We needn't have worried about the road conditions as the snow levels had stayed high and it was clear almost all the way down.  The tired legs were real, however, and with the storm set to continue through the night, we'd need to rest up for Sunday.

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