Thursday, January 26, 2017

storm cycle

The snow kept coming down and they had to close the Little Cottonwood Canyon road Sunday, from 6-8 a.m., for avalanche work.  We were up and at 'em for the 7:40 ski bus as were quite a few other people and it was standing room only until the masses disembarked at Snowbird Center.  It had taken a while to get up to Alta - traffic took a long time to get going, once the road opened - and the corral was full at 8:45 a.m. when we went into the lodge to put our boots on.  It was chilly and snowing and windy but that hadn't kept the people away, at least not from Collins and Wildcat; H noted that he was standing in line longer for one Collins chairlift ride than he did all day Saturday.

There was still a lot of terrain closed, keeping people focused on Wildcat and Collins.  Although everything was getting tracked out quickly, we found some soft and deep lines in Fred's Trees and in the trees below West Rustler/above Watson Shelter.  I was on my pow skis and, because the snow was pretty chunky from the skier traffic, my skis were skiing me more than I was skiing them.  Luckily, H might have overdone it the day before and he didn't complain about having to wait for me.  After five runs on Collins, we thought we'd give Extrovert and/or Chartreuse a try, seeing how they'd been so good the day before.  The snow was decent on Extrovert - what looked scraped off was merely wind-buffed - but the winds were terrible.  There was no lift line to go up Sugarloaf and as we rode up, we understood why, clutching the chair as the gusts tugged at our skis.  When we got off the lift, H announced that he didn't really see any reason to ride that lift again so we headed off to Alf's for an early lunch.

Apparently everyone who wasn't in line at Collins was having an early lunch at Alf's!  We finally managed to score a couple of seats along one of the counters, hunching over our hot chocolates as later arrivals circled and circled, hoping for a table.  It seemed like the wind was dying down as we finished up, so we hopped on Sugarloaf ... and regretted it almost immediately as the wind had not, in fact, died down.  We skied down through Sugarbowl (which was actually benefiting from the wind buff) and up and over Razorback (big, soft bumps) to Supreme.  The lift was open today and amazingly, there was hardly anyone there.  Ski patrol had cleared Supreme Bowl but Catherine's Area and East Castle/Rock N' Roll were still roped off.  We tried the Erosion Gullies, which H liked better than I did, then skied the rope line until H popped into a gate to the lower bowl.  When I met him at the lift, he reported that the lower bowl had been skied into huge bumps and he'd ended up skiing the troughs in between them.  I, on the other hand, had dropped into some of the trees around 3 Bears and found them good.  So that's what we did for the next few runs, playing around in the trees which had not had as much traffic other places and were still deep and soft.

At 2 p.m. my legs were tired and I was starting to get knocked around by my skis.  I offered to hang out in the lodge with my book and a beer (always prepared!) but H was okay with quitting early, his legs still a little fatigued from the epic Saturday he'd had.  The EBT was still closed so we hauled ass out through Sunnyside and along the rope tow.  We got back to the lodge with about fifteen minutes before our bus, enough time to gawk at the still-full Collins lift line and change out of our ski boots.  The ride down canyon was quick and without incident, although at one point, someone in the rear of the bus called out a request for a barf bag to be passed back.

We got back home, safe and sound and with no additional snow accumulation to shove, but to the east, up Little Cottonwood Canyon, the snowstorm raged on.  It would continue through the night and the high winds that came with it caused enough avalanche danger that the road would be closed all day on Monday, plus Alta was interlodged which meant that even the folks staying up there couldn't ski.  They were hoping to open the road Tuesday morning - skiing should be pretty good by then.  We're at 16% above average for snowfall right now and that's just awesome.

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