Thursday, January 28, 2016

in which we give the day an A

By all accounts, Sunday was quite a successful day.  The little storm that moved in Saturday afternoon continued throughout the night, and then all through the day, bringing Alta a 16" storm total as of closing Sunday afternoon.  Traffic was steady up the canyon with the road a little messy; we had to go up to Alta via the by-pass road - never a fun time - because avalanche danger on Superior caused them to close the road between Snowbird and Alta.  When we pulled into the Wildcat base parking lot at 9:10 a.m., we were surprised - nay, flabbergasted - to see that they were already loading Collins chair.  In fact, they opened the chair at 8:50 a.m.  We weren't the only people who were shocked by that; everyone we talked to, including lifties and old guys who have been skiing Alta for 30+ years, said they have never seen Alta open the lifts early.  We're not sure why they did it but everyone was grateful that they did.

Deep in the Back Forty trees

Because the snow was really quite good.  We did a couple of warm-up runs - me on my Rossignols and H on his GunSmokes - and I knew that I was going to be slow in the deep stuff.  So I cut H loose to ski on his own, with a plan to meet up at Alf's for lunch.  While he tore it up on West Rustler and the Backside, doing laps through East Greely, I went over to Supreme.  I thought about doing a run on Sugarloaf first but the wind was stronger there, leading me to abandon that idea quickly.  There was no one over at Supreme when I got there (in fact, the lift lines were surprisingly short all day, especially given how full the parking lot was at the end of the day).  I did three runs in the Erosion Gullies, getting chest- and face-shots, then following the bottom of Challenger and ducking into the low gates into Vicky's/White Squaw where the snow was super-deep and soft.  I did manage an excellent crash at one point: I must have hit a compression and launched myself out of both of my skis.  I somersaulted out of it and came up laughing and wiping snow off my goggles.  A couple of skiers stopped above my skis (which I fortunately could still see) to check if I was okay so I guess it was at least a little spectacular.  I also spun out and crashed on a Catherine's Area run, catching my edge, spinning around and landing flat on my back with my skis in the air.  There were no witnesses that time.

Looking back up the hill in the Back Forty

Also spectacular:  the poor tourist spotted clinging to a cliff in the Piney Glade area (possibly in Double Top chute, I'm not sure of the name).  As I rode up the chair, I saw a pair of skis and a pole or two at the bottom of a rocky chute.  Above the chute, wedged under a tree and literally clutching the 10-15' rock cliff face was a skier and it was pretty clear that he was wishing he was elsewhere.  A couple of patrollers, on the lift a few chairs ahead of me, were calling out to him and by the time I rode up on my next lift ride, the guy was gone, which I took to be a good sign.  I also think there may have been a couple more "CLIFF AREA" signs in place at that point in the general location.

Supreme lift across lower Supreme Bowl

H and I compared notes at lunch: he thought the snow was a little heavy and thought his skis weren't handling the chop that well; I thought the snow was lighter than last weekend and was having a blast.  After lunch, we continued to ski separately, planning to regroup at 2 p.m.  H did runs in Supreme Bowl, Vicky's/White Squaw, the 3 Bears trees and out to Sunset in Catherine's Area.  I did two Catherine's Area runs (Snowshoe Hill and So Long to Back Forty), a flyer to take a break and then one more So Long/Back Forty.

When we met at the bottom of the Supreme lift, our legs were shot.  We skied out - up Sugarloaf, across the EBT and down Collins, which I found brutal, with the terrible visibility and bumps galore - and made our way down-canyon (again through the by-pass, unfortunately).  At home, showered, snug in clean fleece and sipping Park City Brewery Breaking Trail Ale, we debated the day's grade.  H was inclined to give it an A-, because he thought the snow was a little heavy.  I had had enough fun to stay with a solid A: the only way it could have been better would have been under bluebird skies.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

in which we give the day a c

We really weren't sure if we were going to ski when Saturday morning rolled around.  H had been traveling for work and, because of weather-related delays, didn't get home until midnight; when the alarm went off, we both groaned.  The day's forecast wasn't ideal either, with the clouds due to build throughout the day but only a couple of inches of accumulation.  But we peeked out the window and saw that it was mostly clear skies up the canyon and figured well, it certainly couldn't hurt if we went up for just a little while.

It was pretty warm when we got up to Wildcat base (33F) and quite a bit windier than we had anticipated.  As we rode up Collins, we could see the snow swirling and blowing off the top of Baldy.  A patroller we rode with told us that neither the Ballroom nor the EBT would open due to the wind loading the East Baldy cornices.  We did three runs off of Collins and I quickly realized that I shouldn't have skipped the gym on Thursday and Friday as my legs felt heavy and tired.  H was feeling his legs too from the travel and lack of exercise that comes with it.

We switched to Sugarloaf but only one ride up convinced us that it was too exposed: by the afternoon, the lifties weren't allowing single riders to get on the Sugarloaf chairs alone, making them wait until someone else could ride with them to help stabilize the chairs.  Supreme was much better, more protected, but unfortunately everyone else realized that as well.  We did a run through Catherine's Area and although the snow was holding up nicely - skied out and beaten down but still soft - my legs were not and I skied it terribly.  On the next run, we both went down No. 9 Express (which had been groomed of all its ridiculously huge moguls).  H ducked into a gate towards Vicky's; after lunch, I took a lower gate into the adjacent White Squaw Area, coming out by the Elephant's Butt; we both found the snow soft in there but bumped up hugely so that it just wasn't that much fun to ski.

The clouds had been building quickly throughout the morning and just before we went in for lunch, the snow started.  The light got extremely flat after we ate and the winds were not letting up.  We went up Sugarloaf and then immediately back to Supreme.  H did another Catherine's Run and when I met him back at the lift, he said that his legs couldn't take any more of that today.  We kept going a little longer but we were both feeling it and finally called it quits just before 2 p.m.  Skiing out was a pain: not only did we have to ski down through Sunnyside but the rope tow wasn't running as we poled our way across from Albion base to Wildcat base - ugh.  The snow petered out as we drove down the canyon back to the valley, but the upper canyon behind us stayed full of clouds.  Hopefully an early bedtime would have us in good shape for the new inches those clouds would leave overnight.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

taking a break

We didn't actually go back up and ski on Monday.  We hemmed and hawed about it a bit and ultimately decided to take a day off.  The temperatures were going to be fine (low to mid-20s) but it was cloudy with very flat light and  no new snow overnight, with just a little snowfall forecasted for during the day.  We try to be as active as we can, taking advantage of whenever we're not working to get outside.  But sometimes it's okay to take a break, give our legs a rest.  And that's what we did.

Edited to add:  Actually, they ended up getting around nine inches of snow on Monday but the avalanche danger closed the canyon road between Alta and Snowbird and so all the people trying to leave at the end of the day were forced down the by-pass road.  It was taking people 3+ hours to get out.  We may wish we had been there for the skiing but we are absolutely grateful that we missed out on the drive home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

sunday fun-day

It was a very different day on Sunday.  For one, I didn't lose H.  For another, it was much warmer: 20-30 throughout the day, with clouds first thing in the morning and lovely blue skies later.  Alta got another five inches overnight and the winds had continued through the afternoon and evening so that the snow was all wind-buffed, still soft but denser, not fluffy.  H deemed that enough snow to bring out his Blizzard Gunsmokes - powder skis that he picked up three years ago and hadn't yet taken out on the hill; I went with my Rossignols as I had on Saturday.

Nice light on the Backside

This time we did a warm-up run!  Our second run was similar to our first from the day before, going in around Sunspot/Racecourse.  H flew through it on his new skis.  I like skiing on wind-buff because I don't sink in like I do blower powder, and so I don't fight it.  But from the first turn off the groomer I could feel the lactic acid in my quads and knew that I would need to ski at my own pace.  When H and I regrouped, I told him that I wanted to ski separately because I wanted him to put those Gunsmokes through their paces and not have to wait around for me.  Off he went, with a plan to meet up at lunchtime.

Not too many tracks in this part of Catherine's Area

I did a couple of pretty good runs down Extrovert, which was all chopped up but still soft, with a groomer run in between to give my legs a break.  I went slowly, taking my time and trying to work on technique.  The longer Rossignols don't turn as easily and thus go straighter and faster; this makes me nervous when my legs are fatigued so I try to slow down to remain in control.  I got over to Supreme around 11 a.m., with enough time for a couple of runs through the Erosion Gullies (still soft and a little easier for me to ski with being beaten down a bit).

Catherine's Pass ridgeline view

After lunch, I went back to Supreme and did three runs in Catherine's Area, interspersed with some groomers.  The first time in I went out to Snowshoe Hill, this time managing to ski without leaning into the backseat.  The second run was as recommended by H at lunch:  down the So Long rope line and then into the trees in Back Forty where the snow, protected from the wind by the trees, was still deep and soft and hardly skied.  My third Catherine's run was to Sunset and although I found some nice deep snow, my legs were so tired that I had to stop several times.  I only saw a couple of other skiers out there which was amazing, given how good the snow was.

Soft and deep

H had a very successful day on his new skis.  Some notable runs included the above-described Back Forty trees, Yellow Trail to Glory Gulch (where he had to break trail for some tourists who had no idea what they were doing) and a hike all the way out to Catherine's Pass where he had our favorite glade all to himself and nearly untouched.  He really liked those skis although they will need to be for very specific conditions: they run like crazy through powder and chop but are difficult to turn when things get bumpy.

Being the middle of a long holiday weekend, it was a little busy.  Liftline waits were in the 5-10 minute range, however, which isn't bad.  And the best thing is that we both have Monday off - which means another day up on the hill.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

best conditions of the season (to date)

Since the middle of last week, we've been having a series of weak storms roll through the area, leaving most of what they had up in the mountains - and hardly any in the valley which is perfect.  We weren't able to get up for any midweek turns but we headed up to Alta bright and early on Saturday, mostly because the canyon road had been closed until nearly 8 a.m. for avalanche control and we didn't know what sort of traffic we would be dealing with.  It wasn't bad, in fact, a little slow but not backed up and we got to Alta 45 minutes before they opened the lifts.  (On the drive up we discussed that we maybe should start checking the traffic cams before heading out; there's at least one at a key intersection that would give us some useful information.

As we rode up the first chair, we watched people coming down through Sunspot and West Rustler and it looked good.  We had intended to do a warm-up run first - H was back on his alpine skis after having only skied telemark since Christmas - but we convinced ourselves that we should go for the soft stuff first.  The snow was really good but diving in first thing was a mistake and we have confirmed that, at our age, we really do need to do a groomer warm-up to get the legs moving again.  Lesson learned.

In the corral, waiting for the lifts to open

Then we had a little mix-up and lost each other for a while: I thought H saw me heading for the lift but he didn't; our texts didn't reach each other in a timely fashion; and finally, after I had communicated to him that I was okay, we decided to ski separately until lunchtime instead of wasting more time trying to find each other out on the slopes.  H did a couple runs off of Sugarloaf (he had hoped to get into the Backside but they didn't open it until he had moved on), including a decent run down Extrovert where, like a few weeks ago, there were people falling all over the place, struggling in the deep snow.

Because it really was deep, deeper than I had expected.  I went to Supreme and, for my first run there, threw myself down one of the Erosion gullies, to skier's left of Challenger.  So soft!  So deep!  Catherine's Area wasn't open yet - ski patrol was bombing the hell out of Supreme Bowl - so I did a Challenger run next (ridiculously big moguls, but soft).  Then I went down through the trees near No. 9 Express, making my way into the trees below Sleepy Hollow, where I got stuck in a gully and had to climb out onto 3 Bears (I was having a hard time getting out of my own way).  At this point it was close enough to lunch that I went into Alf's to meet H there.

As we were just finishing lunch, a couple of guys came in, grinning and reporting to their friends that they had been at the top of Supreme when ski patrol dropped the rope into Catherine's Area.  That was exactly what we wanted to hear and where we headed directly.  There were a lot of people going in as well but most were not hiking too far out.  Our first run was down through Sunset and I quickly learned that I had to follow someone else's tracks: as much as I wanted to poach some untracked snow, my skis weren't wide enough/I wasn't strong or fast enough to move through the deep snow, which was easily over my knees and, in spots, hit me mid-thigh and stopped me dead in my tracks.  It was glorious.  We went in further on the second run, out to Snowshoe Hill.  There were a couple other people out there but there was plenty of snow for everyone.  At one point, I was leaning way, way back, like being on waterskis, just trying to keep the tips of my skis up.  It was glorious.

After that, my legs were shot, so H and I split up again with a plan to meet at the bottom of Supreme at 3 p.m.  I did three more runs, one more Erosion Gully, one Big Dipper and one cat-track around to Lower Big Dipper because I couldn't make my legs work anymore.  The wind had picked up and with the flat light and blowing snow, it was difficult to see the bumps and drifts on the trails.  I landed at the bottom of the lift at 2:47 p.m. and decided that I would just wait there for H instead of trying to squeeze in another run.  He showed up just a couple minutes later, breathing hard.  He had done two more Catherine's Area runs, going all the way in to where we like to ski and since no one had been in there before him, he broke trail the whole way.  The runs he took were incredible but the work was exhausting.  We were done.  And already looking forward to the next two days ahead of us.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Sunday brought with it no new snow, and started clear and sunny and cold (3-6 F to start, and would warm up to 18-20 F after lunch), with no wind.  As H felt he was making progress with his tele practice, we again made plans to ski separately and then meet up at Alf's for an early lunch.  It was quite cold in the shade so I only did one run on Collins before switching over to Sugarloaf where the sun was out from behind the mountains.

Looking across at Sunnyside from Yellow Trail

I didn't plan all that well, however, because on my first ride up Sugarloaf, I glanced over at the Backside and, seeing no one out there, decided that I should probably take my first East Greely run of the season.  So, I got off the lift and around the EBT, dodging the skiers clustered at the top of Collins, and then out the traverse into Yellow Trail.  I was fortunate enough to have the traverse to myself, which was great because it was pretty bumped up with whoop-de-doos - I'm pretty sure a bunch of tourists have gotten bucked off it.  Yellow Trail and East Greely actually skied better than I expected them too.  Although they looked super-skied out from down below, there was actually a fair bit of soft, fluffy snow there.  The Glitch and Glatch chutes were not so fun, however, with big bumps and scrapes in between.  On the plus side, I was pretty well warmed-up by the time I got back to the lift.

Looking up at High Notch and Low Notch

I made it over to Supreme around 10:30 a.m. and did a run in Catherine's Area when there was a break in the crowds trudging in there.  Again, I timed it pretty well and got out to Sunset/Snowshoe Hill without having to share with too many other skiers.  It hasn't been very windy so the trees have retained their coat of snow - it is just so beautiful out there, especially with the blue skies above.  I squeezed in a couple of flyers before heading to Alf's to meet H.

Pretty morning in Catherine's Area

After lunch, the clouds started to move in again, just like they had done on Saturday, although I don't think they had been expected to this day.  I rode up Sugarloaf, watching the long line of people traversing into Devil's Castle.  The Castle hasn't been open yet this season and ski patrol had been shooting the heck out of it all morning.  As I watched the hordes heading in there, I realized that meant Catherine's Area would probably be abandoned - perfect!  I eagerly headed back to Supreme, only to be disappointed when the lift was closed for a mechanical.  Rats!  I went back up Sugarloaf, which was even busier than before, with people wanting to get into Devil's Castle.  On my way back down, I paused to look across at Supreme.  The lift was turning but no one was on it so I decided to do a Cabin Run.

When I came out at the base of Sugarloaf, H was waiting there.  We quickly summarized the situation - Supreme down, Sugarloaf a madhouse, rapidly decreasing visibility - and decided to cut our losses.  We'd had the best of the day already - can't complain about that.

Monday, January 11, 2016

another alta day

Over the last week, Alta received twelve inches of snow, but only got two inches Friday night into Saturday.  We were curious about what the crowds would be like:  would people be so excited about the new snow that they would flock to the mountains or would they be like, "Meh, only two really new inches."  When we got up to the merge with Wasatch Boulevard, traffic had slowed up to a crawl and we were, of course, concerned.  Then (luckily) and a bunch of cars pulled off into Snowbird and we were pleased.  When we pulled into the Wildcat base lot, however, it really didn't seem that busy. The morning was cold, mostly sunny and absolutely gorgeous, with the sun-splashed peak of Baldy peeking out from the low clouds, the trees on the summit of Supreme looking like they'd been flocked and sparkling ice crystals in the air.  I really wish I'd taken a photo in the morning before the clouds moved in!

H was back on his telemark skis again so we made a plan to ski separately and meet at Alf's for an early lunch.  I first did a couple runs on Collins, which was still in the shade and cold, before moving to Sugarloaf where it was sunnier and warmer.  I did one run down Extrovert, but I didn't ski it very well, plus I nicked my ski on a rock, so I gave up on that lift and moved over to Supreme.  Both Challenger and No. 9 Express still had huge bumps, despite my hopes that the cats would have groomed them out.  I did a run on Sleepy Hollow (big bumps and hard-pack scrapes), did some groomer runs and then met H for an early lunch.

Out near Snowshoe Hill, after the clouds rolled in

The clouds moved in while we were in for lunch and when we went back out, it was unexpectedly spitting snow.  We split up again, with the plan to do a couple of Sugarloaf runs, then laps on Supreme until we met back up again.  I managed three Catherine's Area runs:  two in Sunset, one along the rope line in So Long, then ducking into the low gate and finding some really good snow in the trees there.  Catherine's Area actually skiing quite well, tracked out but deep in places (enough for me to occasionally wish I had my Rossignols) and still soft and light.  I had a chair ride with a kid who worked at Collins Grill.  I followed him into Catherine's but while he took a high gate into the Spiny Chutes/Back Forty area, I went further into Sunset.  On the run-out back to the lift, we came out at the same time and he saw me and grinned, and asked how my run went.  After that I tried a line through the trees between No. 9 and Sleepy Hollow (which was hugely bumped up) and then continued out through the lower trees.  I also did a swooping run through the gate at the bottom of Rock N' Roll.

After my last run through Catherine's, I found H waiting for me at the base of Supreme.  It was around 2:45 p.m. and his legs were shot from a full day on his tele skis.  Quite frankly, after three Catherine's Area runs, mine were shot too.  We skied out through Sunnyside and called it a pretty good day.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

hub and spoke diner

Once again, my birthday has come and gone and once again, we tried a new place for combination date night/birthday dinner.  I picked the Hub and Spoke Diner (1291 South 1100 East, SLC) for this year's attempt, knowing nothing about it except what I found on their website after driving by it while running errands earlier this fall.  We went early, after a day spent skiing, figuring that eating early meant (a) not waiting for a table and (b) getting home and into our jammies early afterwards.  Because we had spent the day skiing.

The diner is in a newer building and is fairly spacious, clean, with slightly bizarre, minimalist decor:  there's a taxidermied raccoon for some reason, and a photo-mural of mule deer, plus simply glass globes on the light fixtures and random mirrors from old furniture.   There are several booths and then many tables in the center, with funky metal/wooden chairs; there is also seating at the small counter - this is a "diner," after all - and a small patio for warm weather dining.  They serve breakfast all day, plus burgers, soups and sandwiches, and dinner fare after 4 p.m.  They have a small beer and wine list (all beer in bottles/cans only and it's a fairly lame beer selection), plus some specialty cocktails.  The place was staffed by hipsters - our very nice waitress had gauges in her ears, a septum nose ring and one arm fully-sleeved with tattoos - but the clientele is more varied.

We had Ranier Lagers ($3.00 in cans) and I had a chicken pot pie with a lovely, fresh arugula side salad (the pot pie was a little bland but its herb crust was very good), while H had a patty melt (served on marble rye with Swiss cheese), fantastic hand-cut fries and a half a Caesar side salad.  The food was okay.  It's clearly comfort food, diner food - although we thought it was slightly overpriced for diner food.  But the real reason why I wanted to go to the Hub and Spoke was for the dessert: a boozy milkshake.  I went with their Hazelnut variety, which had: tequila, Frangelico, Nutella, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.  It was blended very smooth and served with a big (bubble tea diameter) straw; it was extremely delicious and I sucked it down fast.  I never would have thought to pair tequila with chocolate/hazelnut but it totally worked.  They have three other options as well:  mint, Irish coffee and salted caramel.

Because of the price/quality issue, we didn't love the Hub and Spoke (except for the milkshake - I loved that milkshake).  But it definitely ranks up there in the top three of my Salt Lake City birthday dinners, right there behind Aristo's and Taqueria 27.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


After eleven days in a row of skiing, including six straight days of telemark work, H wasn't so sure he wanted to ski on Sunday.  And when he looked at the webcams and out the window, confirming the gathering clouds and flattening light, his mind was made up: he was going to take the day off.  Since I hadn't been skiing for eleven days, I went up by myself (after confirming that there wasn't going to be any snowfall to make the canyon drive treacherous).

What a difference a couple days make, at least as far as temperatures go!  We'd had a run of quite cold weather but Sunday was practically balmy, in the 20s to start and, with no wind to speak of, reaching well into the 30s despite the cloud cover.  I ended up having to go back to the car midday to shed a layer, as well as discarding my hand warmers - almost unheard of for me, especially in January.

View off the back from Catherine's Area

I had an okay solo day.  There weren't many people there so I even got to ride a few chairs on my own.  I started with a warm-up run on Collins, then switched to Sugarloaf for several runs, including one through Amen, which H and I never ski.  I had to back up off a potentially-cliffy spot although after skiing around it, it was merely short and steep and I definitely could have skied it had I known what it looked like.  I spent most of my day on Supreme, of course, and did a couple of runs in Catherine's Area - which prompted the layer shedding - including going all the way in to my favorite part near Catherine's Pass, which was skiing a little chunky from the bombing ski patrol had done earlier in the week.  There were a few backcountry skiers there, skinning their way uphill, and we all cheerfully said hello to each other.

Sunset Peak, with the Heber Valley in the background

Before the day was out, I had also done a Cabin Run and a run through the gate at the bottom of Rock N' Roll.  The light started getting very flat around 1:00 p.m., however, and the decreasing visibility eventually drove me off the mountain.

Monday, January 4, 2016

that's more like it

The second day of 2016 was, at least for me, much more successful in the skiing department.  It wasn't as windy, it was warmer and I got my legs back.  Happy New Year indeed!

The Saturday forecast was for party sunny skies, light winds (as opposed to the "moderate" ones we'd had the day before) and temperatures in the mid-20s.  Surely, we thought, today will be super-busy because it's the last day of the Christmas vacation week.  Nope.  Still not busy.  Weird, unusual and yet we were not complaining.  Fewer people on the hill means the snow lasts longer - and since there isn't any significant snow coming anytime soon, we need what we've got to last as long as possible.


We did three or four runs at Collins to start.  H was again on his tele skis and was reporting definite cumulative fatigue in his legs.  But he has improved a lot and I'm proud of him for sticking with it.  We then moved over to Sugarloaf, looking for a little sunshine for warmth and better visibility.  As we rode up the chair the first time, I looked closely at Extrovert and decided that I would give it a try, to see if my legs would behave any better than they had on Saturday.  I timed it just right and didn't have to share the trail with anyone else, and I actually skied it pretty well, going slowly so I wouldn't hit any rocks but feeling like I was taking the bumps decently.  It felt so good that I did it twice more, each time feeling better and better about how I was skiing.  The snow is all skied out but it is still soft and not skied off or scratchy and as long as the bumps weren't too big, I could ski them.

After a bit we shifted to Supreme for a couple of runs.  It was starting to get a little bit busier at that point: to the point where the lifty was running the lift line but the corral was never completely full.  We decided to do an early lunch just in case the crowds were arriving but again, Alf's cafeteria was never overrun.  With the pleasanter weather, we didn't linger quite so long over lunch.  It felt warm when we went back out (20 F at the peak, 30 F at base).

Sunset section of Catherine's Area

A Cabin Run was in order - what a change from Christmas when we were the first ones in there and got stuck - and then back to Supreme.  I was feeling bold after a run or two and hiked into Catherine's Area, traversing into Sunset.  I skied it really well (I thought), enjoying the beaten-down but soft low bumps.  I was over-dressed at this point and pretty warm when I met H at the lift.  He cried uncle, the tele skiing having taken a toll on his legs, and while he skied out, I went back up and did one more Catherine's Area run.  I skied it well again - hooray! - and decided to end the day on a high note, skiing out to find H waiting for me at the truck.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

breezing in the new year

New Year's Day 2016 was a chilly one up at Alta.  The ambient temperature wasn't too terrible - beginning around 4 F in the morning and warming up to 20 F in the afternoon - but the wind was ferocious, blowing and blowing and blowing and bringing a windchill of -15 F.  As we drove up the canyon, we could see the snow swirling off the peaks above us; in the Wildcat base parking lot, the flags were out straight in the wind.

Even wearing our light down jackets under our shells, we got cold quickly as we moved from lift to lift, trying to find the one that was most protected from the wind.  H was on his telemark skis again (the first time in years he's allowed me to ski with him when he's on his teles).  With no new snow, we'd be skiing mainly groomers and that meant he could keep practicing his free-heeling.  My feet got cold very quickly, however, so I tried a run in Catherine's Area to warm myself up.  The hike in had the desired warming effect but I skied it terribly - as badly as I've skied in there ever, I think.  I just couldn't get my legs to do what I wanted them to do.

Discouraged and cold, I went into Alf's early for lunch, to nab a table before it got too busy and to warm up my toes.  H was cold too: he only did one extra run before joining me.  Amazingly (strangely), it really never got busy - and we took a long lunch, reluctant to go back outside into the blow.  Perhaps people were staying away because of the cold and the wind and the dearth of new snow, perhaps Californians are enjoying their own mountains for the first time in years.  Regardless, it makes for a much more enjoyable lunchtime when table vultures are not hovering, waiting to pounce if you make any move towards the door.

We skied for a little bit more after lunch.  I tried off-piste again, this time coming onto the bottom of Extrovert via lower Amen, but my legs were still recalcitrant.  H's legs were tiring too - five days in a row of telemark skiing, on top of five days of regular alpine skiing - and we gave up before too long, skiing out through Sunnyside and getting to the truck before 2 p.m.