Thursday, January 12, 2017

some of the best of the season (so far)

Snow-conditions-wise, Sunday ended up being one of the best days of the season to date, along with January 2nd.  There was a sloppy storm moving in, with temperatures forecast to rise enough that the snow levels would be over 9,000 feet.  In the morning report, Alta claimed only a couple of new inches overnight and temperatures already in the mid-20s.  The storm was supposed to pick up as the day went on, with increasing winds and rain the valley - looked to be a wet and wild one.

The ski bus was fairly busy for the up-canyon ride but the vast majority got off at Snowbird and the parking lot at Alta was less than a third full.  It was definitely warm as we started, with thick clouds and spitting snow.  The overnight snow - which, again, seemed to be more than two inches - was a nice creamy layer on top of the base.  The warm temperatures meant dense snow with a lot of water content, good to fill in the gaps.  It also meant that it was heavy and would get chopped up quickly.  For some reason my legs were fatigued (too many trips through Catherine's the day before, I suspect) and I knew H wanted to get some good runs in, so I suggested we split up for the morning and meet at Alf's for lunch.  While he ripped it up in Fred's Trees, West Rustler, Chartreuse, Razorback and Cabin Run, I did a couple of runs off of Sugarloaf - getting bounced around by the heavy clumps - then moved over to Supreme.  My legs could handle the former groomers with their skim coat of snow but anything that was too bumped up was exhausting.

At lunch, there were a couple of surprises.  Sunday was my birthday and so H bought me a slice of birthday cake, a very good (if a bit overpriced) carrot cake.  And Carrie, our favorite Alf's cashier who is actually back in school at UVM but who just came out to work over her winter break, gave us a big jar of Vermont Grade A medium amber maple syrup.  So nice!

I had my cake and ate it too!

Rejuvenated by my carrot cake, I actually skied better after lunch, which is not usually the case.  The winds had been steadily picking up and after one ride up Sugarloaf, H and I decided that was probably enough of that.  We scooted over to Supreme (the only lift on the mountain with a lift line) and did some laps there.  I didn't have the legs for Catherine's but the Erosion Gullies were skiing really, really well, wind-buffed and filling in nicely.  The trees below Sleepy Hollow and 3 Bears were pretty good too and H reported that the White Squaw/Vicky's trees were in good shape as well.  The wind was smoothing all the chop out and since it was snowing, tracks were getting filled in.  Coverage was very good and the skiing was really quite excellent.

Bates College represent at Alta

The wind was getting worse, however, and Supreme was running slowly and even stopping at times when the gusts were super-strong.  We got into the lift line at 1:57 p.m., booked it down the mountain and out through Sunnyside and the rope tow, and managed to score seats on the 2:37 p.m. down-canyon bus.  By 4 p.m. I was in my soft pants with a beer and a couple of phone calls from family back east.  Pretty good birthday, if you ask me.

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