Monday, January 9, 2017

in which i find the best snow

That last, glorious, ring-in-the-new-year storm brought very nice snow to Utah - Alta got 38" out of it; Solitude and Brighton got the lion's share, with over 50" to date in January alone - and then some frigid temperatures on top of it.  Not so fun for skiing but excellent for retaining snow quality.  By the time we got back up to Alta Saturday (1/7) morning, temperatures were starting to rise ahead of the next storm.  It was around 12 F when the lifts opened, and cloudy, and the winds would pick up throughout the day although the wind itself was out of the south/southwest and thus not that cold.

Most of Alta was pretty well-trampled.  H and I did a couple of warm-up groomers which, ironically, made me cold since I wasn't working hard.  H decided he wanted to venture into West Rustler; after one lift ride where the Collins chair stopped three times, I decided to give Extrovert and/or Chartreuse a shot.  But when I got to Sugarloaf, I ended up dodging more skiers than I liked so I went to Supreme instead, heading straight into Catherine's Area to try to warm up.  That turned out to be an excellent idea since (1) there weren't that many people hiking in there, (2) I got plenty warm on the hike (even my toes thawed slightly) and (3) the snow was fantastic - still deep and soft the further in I went.  I managed to get five runs off Supreme before lunch: three in Catherine's, each time going out past Snowshoe Hill, and two on Challenger in between to rest my legs.

Out in Catherine's with the best snow

I found that H's morning had not been quite so successful when I met him for lunch.  He had been unable to find good snow and, to add insult to injury, one of the buckles on his boot broke.  So after lunch we went back to Supreme and out into Catherine's.  He enjoyed the snow there - although the broken boot was affecting his skiing a little - and that cheered him up some.  It about did my legs in, however.  Our next run was a groomer and WOW had the light gotten flat.  It was terrible: we were skiing down a pitch and had no idea what we were skiing on.

When we got back on the lift, H suggested that since the light was so bad (and my legs too beat for much more than groomers), perhaps we might hustle back down to the Goldminer's Daughter lodge and grab the 2:30 bus.  So we did that, and were grateful that it didn't take us three hours this time.  It was spitting snow down in the valley and it looked like the storm was picking up speed in the mountains; by 5 p.m., both canyon roads were restricted (4WD or chains required).  The forecast is for wet and wild - guess we'll see what Sunday will bring.

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