Thursday, December 15, 2016

wheels on the bus

As much as people around here don't like storm skiing, they do like skiing the day after a storm, so we anticipated heavy traffic and a post-storm slushy road for Sunday.  This encouraged us to try something new: the UTA's ski bus.  There is a park-n-ride five minutes from our house and with our Alta season passes, the ride is free.  It involved a little more organization than our usual morning routine (we did have to leave the house earlier and I had to commit to an outfit since I wouldn't have the truck in which to leave multiple layering options) but it was super-easy.  The bus driver was friendly, we got seats and we got a stress-free ride up the canyon to Alta (with three stops at Snowbird first to offload passengers).

When we got up there, it was PACKED with hordes of people trying to organize into the lift lines.  I don't like to say anything negative about Alta because I love it so much but whoever set the corrals Sunday morning did a terrible job: they didn't make the lanes nearly long enough, so it was just a mob of people pressing forward, and they only set up one singles line instead of two.  Poor planning.  That being said, even if they had done a better job with the corrals, there were still ridiculous amounts of people there; by 11 a.m., the corral at Collins was still full.  Supreme was still closed at that point (avalanche control) and so people only had Collins, Wildcat and Sugarloaf (and Sunnyside) to choose from.

The reason there were so many people?  Eight new inches of snow (12" storm total) and clearing skies.  The snow was really pretty good: it wasn't light and fluffy - the high water content made it dense and heavy - but it filled in a lot of spots and was soft.  I was wearing my wider Rossignols with mixed results: they floated in the deeper stuff but with the heavy snow and so many people skiing it, things got chunked up quickly and those skis are more difficult to turn.  After a couple of warm-up runs (and a high five from Martha, who was in a good mood despite the crowds), we went into Racecourse/Sunspot where the benefits of new snow were evident: it was really quite good in there.

It did a number on my legs, however, so for the next run, as H went back in, I did a groomer run down Mambo (Main Street was closed for avalanche control).  I took a digger there - must have caught an edge or something - and ended up jamming my left shoulder pretty badly.  I got up and skied down to the bottom of the lift where I figured out that while I hadn't dislocated my shoulder, I was pretty sore.  Here's where the genius of the ski bus comes in: instead of me moping around the ski lodge all day, or H having to cut his ski day short to take me home, I just got the keys from him and then took the bus back down to the valley while he got back in line.  He was worried about me but I wanted him to keep skiing - no sense both of us missing out, especially when I wasn't seriously hurt.

So while I puttered stiffly around then house, H had a pretty good day of skiing.  He stayed on the front side for the whole morning, then switched to Sugarloaf and Supreme after lunch.  By 2 p.m., the crowds had dissipated - everyone went up in the morning, tracked everything out and then left, I guess - and he was skiing onto the lifts with no waiting.  Catherine's Area even stayed in good shape: he did two runs through there, nabbing fresh tracks each time.

When H was done, he got on the ski bus, texting me to come pick him up in 45 minutes.  The bus was actually ahead of schedule and he had been waiting for a few minutes, sitting on the bus stop bench to give his tired legs a break.  At home that evening, as we were both muttering about how creaky and sore we were - my shoulder, his legs - we both agreed that the ski bus experiment was an unqualified success.  The weather looks fairly active in the near future too, so maybe we'll get back aboard soon.

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