Thursday, April 20, 2017

closing day, 2016/2017 version

And then on Sunday there we were, at the end of the Alta ski season which seemed to come awfully quickly with the late start in the fall (due to lack of snow) plus having only one closing weekend mid-April (even with a 120" base).  While it's been several seasons since we had a true spring skiing day for closing, that's what we ended up with for Sunday: there were high thin clouds first thing in the morning but the mid-mountain temperature was already 28 F at 6 a.m.  We got up to Alta in time for the first chair and were surprised that the corral was mostly empty, although folks were already starting to set up for tailgating in the Wildcat base parking lot, setting up tables and chairs, getting their hibachis warmed up, opening beers for breakfast.  As you do on closing day.

Last Cecret chair selfie ever

The snow was firm to start - although certainly not frozen hard like Saturday had been - so we again started at Sugarloaf, doing groomer laps on Devil's Elbow and Rollercoaster while we waited for the snow to soften. We moved over to Supreme around 11 a.m.  The snow was not quite as soft there because the angle of the slopes is doesn't soak up the sun quite so much, but we wanted to get as much time on Supreme as possible since Alta is replacing that lift and Cecret lift and putting in a new one over the summer.  We are a little sad about that.  Yes, the Supreme lift is old (put in around 1981, I think?) and slow, and people get freaked out about the conveyor belt loading apparatus.  A slow lift means that people stand in line and are on the lift longer, keeping the trails less crowded.  A faster lift will just get that many more people up and on the trails faster.  Also, Supreme being a triple chair has meant that it's a great lift for singles to ride: most people ski in groups of two or four so there are lots of spots for a single to fill a seat on Supreme.

Spectacular day out in Catherine's Area

As the day wore on, the crazy started to come out.  Because it was Alta's one and only closing day, the scheduled festivities included the Annual Frank World Ski Classic as well as the party on High Boy after last chair.  This means costumes!  We only wore our regular ski clothes but we appreciated seeing the following: Pope Batman, regular Batman, lots of Wonder Women, a couple of Mormon missionaries, a hotdog and a taco, a couple of buttered toasts, unicorns, dragons, tigers, snow leopards, cows, sumo wrestlers, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, many Easter Bunnies (including one drunk dude in nothing but a speedo and bunny ears), tons of tutus, ballgowns, fairy/angel wings and classic one-pieces from the '80s and '90s.

About half the Frank crowd

After lunch, we went back to Supreme for a couple runs, riding for the last time ever on that poky little Cecret lift.  We hiked in for a last-of-the-season run through Catherine's Area.  We went all the way out, to our favorite glade, where we found ourselves all alone.  The snow was pretty soft at this point, although heavy to push through, and I struggled to push through my turns although H just flew through the crud on his Blizzards.  The last pitch out of Catherine's Area was right at its sweet spot, though: super soft and nicely bumped up, but not too heavy for me to ski through.  Once out, we checked the time and went straight up Sugarloaf and down the front side to get in line at Wildcat. Frank was in full swing and this was where all the people were - the Wildcat lift line was huge but actually moved pretty quickly.

Supreme lift: closed.  Forever.😢

Frank was fabulous, as always.  The bullhorn-toting announcers estimated at least 600 outrageously dressed people perched on the hillsides, drinking beers, smoking funny things and throwing snowballs at people on the Wildcat chair lift.  The crowd was in a very good mood, as you might imagine, cheering wildly for (a) any little kids who hit the jumps and (b) the biggest air from the bigger kids.  We saw some impressive jumps - back flips and a couple of truly massive front flips - and some impressive wipe-outs.  And this year there were two naked skiers, both of whom landed big back flips to tumultuous cheering from the crowd.

The line to go up Collins, one more time

We couldn't stay at Frank for the whole thing, however, as we had to get back to Supreme to get a few more runs in before they closed it for the season good.  We did three runs there, two on Challenger which had softened to wonderful buttery corn (pretty much as good as that trail ever is), and then our very last ride up loaded at 3:27 p.m.  After saying goodbye to my favorite lift, we skied out, riding up Sugarloaf (where the lifties were counting their donated beers), poling around the EBT (where a group of flannel-wearing, beer-drinking snowboarders were waiting for Alta to close so they could poach some runs) and down the front side.  By the time we got back to Wildcat base, the Collins corral was packed with revelers wanting one more ride up to High Boy, where the crowd was gathering for the final run of the season.

Parking lot party - woohoo!

Since we usually ski all day on closing day, we have never made it to that High Boy party.  This year was no different as my legs were shot from pushing that heavy spring snow around.  We went back to the truck and got out of our boots, then strolled with our beers to the far end of the parking lot for some live music by Marinade/Talia Keys.  We finished our beers on our truck's tailgate, surrounded by actual tailgaters, watching the crowd on top of High Rustler get bigger and bigger.  The party continuing to rev when we headed home, sad that skiing was over for the season but looking forward to summer, as always.

No comments:

Post a Comment