Saturday was when I discovered that my "new" ski pants were no longer water-proof.
Now, I got those ski pants in spring 2014, and they've gotten a lot of wear since then, so I shouldn't have been surprised. I was, because they've gotten me through several heavy storms this past winter, but none of those have been as warm and wet as the one we got this past weekend. While the Salt Lake Valley lawns greened up with 40 F and raining, it was 26-35 F up at Alta (warmer at the base) and snowing all day. Attendance was way down: the fact that it was raining at home and valley temperatures hit the high 70s last week means the casual skier has moved on.
For good reason, too, because while the conditions were better than what we started out with last weekend (i.e. frozen corduroy), it wasn't fantastic snow. The mountains had gotten a lovely storm on Wednesday/Thursday which left over a foot of fresh at Alta; the sun came out on Friday, alas, and baked the snow enough to make it crusty overnight. The new snow we were getting all Saturday was nice and creamy but it just wasn't deep enough to keep us from skiing down through it and scraping along the crust.
Being from the east originally, crusty snow doesn't scare us. We did three runs on Collins before switching to Sugarloaf to see if the visibility was any better over there. It wasn't. The clouds had been down to the base areas when we had gotten to Alta but then lifted somewhat by the time the lifts opened. The light was very flat, however, and the clouds hadn't cleared enough that we could see the top of Supreme or Baldy. We stayed on Sugarloaf for the rest of the morning, searching out pockets of soft snow wherever we could. Skier's right down Extrovert was decent, as was Rollercoaster since it gets less traffic than Devil's Elbow. Razorback was not very good - scraped off and clumpy and terrible visibility - and Sugarbowl deteriorated as the day went on.
We were already pretty soggy when we went in early for lunch. My fingers and toes were cold and I was wishing that I'd worn one layer warmer; H's old gloves (which are more duct tape than fabric at this point) were soaking wet. We went back out for another hour and a half, doing laps on Supreme. There were so few people there that the lifties didn't even need to run the lift lines. Again, we were able to find pockets of nice snow interspersed among the scratch and crust. At 2 p.m., however, my fingers were cold again and I was starting to get chilled from being so damp. We skied out through Sunnyside, hauled ourselves across the rope tow and downed a leisurely PBR before catching the bus down-canyon. This will tell you how depleted the skier crowds are: we got seats on the 3 p.m. bus on a storm day. That never happened in January!