Friday, February 3, 2017

january thaw

If anything has been consistent about this season, it is that H and I are terrible at predicting the size of the crowds at Alta.  For Sunday, we figured it would be less crowded since it was a Sunday and there was no new snow.  We were wrong about that: Sunday was warmer, sunnier, less windy and quite a bit busier than Saturday.  But we just rolled with it because at least we were skiing.

Snow-wise, the conditions were the same as they had been the day before.  H was on his teles; he is much faster than he was at the start of the season.  I was on my little Salomons again and was hoping to do some bumps but it was evident very quickly that I was way too overdressed for bumps and hiking and so had to limit my off-piste skiing so as not to entirely melt.  I had anticipated high 20s but it got to above 30F up on the mountain and 45 F at the base - my partial down jacket was overkill.


Ski patrol was taking advantage of the break in the weather.  They got Baldy open early and there was a long line of people clambering up the ridge to ski the chutes.  Patrol was doing avalanche abatement routes in Devil's Castle as well - upon seeing this, people started standing in line around 10 a.m., waiting for the rope to drop.  But some of the explosive charges ski patrol was using turned out to be duds and it took them a while to relocate the unexploded charges and set them off safely, so some people waited for THREE HOURS to get first tracks in the Castle.  Now, I think fresh snow is wonderful too but there is no way I'm standing in line that long for it.  (After patrol let people in, it took less than an hour for Devil's Castle to get all tracked out.)

Although the lift lines were huge for the morning, it started to clear out after lunch and H and I even got to ride together a few times instead of just taking the singles line.  By 3 p.m., however, the only people on the hill seemed to be beginners and after a run or two of dodging erratic skiers, we thought we'd call it a day.  Traffic was a little heavy as we headed back down to the valley but we got seats on the bus and had our books, so it didn't seem long at all.  In short order we were home, cleaned up and eating homemade soup, another weekend well-spent but much too short.

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