Saturday, February 28, 2009

We're Back! #6

Back in Utah again for Trip #6, but this time with the whole family. A beautiful sunny day here in SLC. As usual the prize for arriving early is you get to sit on the tarmac and wait for the plane in your slot to leave. This time the plane was gratious enough to leave.

Its aways a challenge to get everyone out of the car, refitted for skiing, and back in the car but we did it and hit the slopes for day 35 by 1pm. Sadly all the powder is gone and the entire world (except me) thinks 47 degrees is perfect skiing weather. Crowded and crummy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What a way to end a trip

An absolutely perfect sunny day. First had a great run down baldy shoulder which had just opened up. Skied Ballroom (which just opened) then down East Greely down to Sunnyside. Took a run down the Glory Hole while they opened up Devil's Castle, then took 3 glorious runs down. Met up with James and skied Gad Chutes down to Gad 2, then on to Tiger Tail. Totally exhausted and ready to come home! So ends the 34th days of skiing this year, trip #5, and an incredible 10 days.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Same Powder Still Empty

You gotta love a snowstorm during the week. Had a great run down Mach Schnell then the gad chutes then a couple down gad 2. Mineral opened but wasn't the light fluffy stuff I had before - back to the tram for trips down 1 7 and others. Lots and lots of great powder and luckily a jacket stuffed with food so no need to stop. Had many nice conversations and now a better understanding of why I don't like the tram. Reminds me too much of frat parties. Between the moments when folks are rude, talking loudly, or pushing, a person came off the tram who no doubt had been injured in Mineral Basin. A gentle and respectful hush. Even though he looked fine, the occasional reminder of the risk of skiing gets everyone's attention.

I personally like pleasant conversations like the one I had with the Delta pilot (well we talked about the market and the downturn in aviation so pleasant may not be the right word). Still it is interesting to see the world from a different perspective and get a chance to learn something new (retirement age for pilots changed and most pilots [who are <60] weren't that excited). Somehow the day flew by (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


What a strange day. We left early based on a report of a foot of powder. First they didn't close the road as was typical. Second there was no one to enforce the "chains/4WD" requirement so we zipped up there. We were about 3rd in line for the tram when we were told that actually they weren't ready and everything wouldn't start until 10. Then at 9:30 they announced that the road was closed. We had a great run down Regulator Johnson, then down to Wilbere only to have them announce that the whole place was going to Interlodge so they could do more avalanche work (do you see a theme?).

I feared that I might have to sleep/eat at Snowbird so I sought out a comfy hotel. I settled down with hot chocolate and a paper, took off multiple layers, grabbed a seat, and watched the fire (and the woman who was walking up a few stairs in a handstand - pretty impressive). By 1pm we were OK, and by 1:30 I had gotten myself back to the tram.

Alas the tram line was worse than before. About 4 trams later I had pretty much kicked myself for not taking some other way up to the top. I had a nice chat with an older lady (I like the fact that folks older than I still ski on days like today) about the stock market and her home state of Alaska. The snow was still great so I did some laps on Little Cloud. Eventually the wind was more than I could handle so I moved on to the traverse on Gadzoom that leads to the Wilbere Bowl. That was lots of fun - Over a foot and soft and not many trees to avoid.

James of course recounted that I had done it all wrong and should have taken the tram since then I could have gotten to other stuff at the end of the Cirque Traverse. But I still had lots of fun and didn't have to cram into a little box with other smelly people all of whom would probably babble about their great day. I can't explain it, but when I am on chairlifts with people I tend to think the world is an OK place and we'll make it in the end. When I listen to people on the tram, I tend to think - we're doomed. The conversation of educated, smart, well-funded, young people is not inspiring - how can evolution have led to such predictable communication?

Monday, February 16, 2009


I was pretty bushed and crashed at 8 and slept 'til 6. No fresh snow until later today so we only went from 1pm to 3:30. Prediction is for 12-24, so I need to ready for Tuesday/Wednesday.

As expected the exercise was better than the snow. I had fun checking out different paths off of Supreme Bowl. My final trip up Catherine's included a view of the lake. Kind of funny that today I could traverse to an area that took 2 hours of hiking during the summer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunny day!

Alas, very little untracked powder. But a beautiful blue sky day. The wind was pretty ferocious and the crowds crowdful so I decided to go down low at Snowbird and see what I could find that I hadn't done before. Some runs that get you to Baby Thunder were pretty neat. And Baby Thunder was an excellent opportunity to make some calls. Mineral was a little of a downer - with such heavy snow compared to yesterday you get spoiled. 

Heard a 12 year old on the chair who gave up snowboarding for skiing. His days of snowboarding were behind him and was into all the wild crazy things you can do on skis (including regular skiing apparently). Apparently you can do flips on land on your back repeatedly (without a helmet no less). The 20 something was intrigued and you could almost hear in is voice, "maybe I should dump this board and learn". There is hope for Alta yet. On that note a guy who apparently knew the owner of Alta, commented that they were having trouble with families bailing for Snowbird (and elsewhere) because of kids who snowboarded. The ski free after 3 was a response to that and was apparently working beautifully. 

Had a nice trip with a woman who came to Utah from more liberal locations (for outdoor stuff). Apparently living in Park City or Moab or near the University makes it livable, but she still doubted her long term staying power. We both agreed that imports may eventually turn this state (as has been done in Colorado). On that note, I met up with an Air Force almost retiree who is moving to Draper. He apparently convinced his wife that this was the place to retire to.

At the end of the day there wasn't much energy left. Days of skiing 9:15 to 3:45 without a break are starting to wear me out. Was all set to go at 3:45 as planned, but James' course hadn't finished. After a flurry of text messages and return to his course to drop off a compass it was 4:15 when I started heading down. Unfortunately, they diverted to the Snowbird bypass which pretty much meant I would leave after every single Snowbird person. Not a happy thought on a day that was the most crowded of the year (according to me and every other "regular" I ran into). After much huffing and puffing I headed back to Goldminer's, ordered a pizza and settled down with my laptop. A nice family with 2 girls came over and asked if they could join. They both had worked at Alta in the past, and been easterners for some time, but came back for the wide open spaces. A pleasant chat and lots of pizza and by 6 (probably earlier) the road looked free so we headed home.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Powder Everywhere

Synopsis: Basically I skied all day without stopping. Ski ski ski. Powder powder powder. I have never skied so much powder and probably won't again for a long time.

Got an early start since James had to get to Avy training. Hung out at Albion with my favorite toy (laptop with Internet) and was out the door by 9:30. Headed to Mineral Basin to see what they had - lots of powder. The Chamonix Chutes were highly recommended and were at least a foot deep. After several tries the visibility went too low for something without trees so I moved on to Double Down for some huge number of runs, then Not Quite Corn. Pretty cool - three areas I had never done before. Eventually I decided that the front side, even if it had lousy snow should have better visibility. 

Wrong, but it did have cool snow off Peruvian Gulch. Somewhere along the line I thought I should stop, but how often do you have one powder run after another with no lines (and no effort)? Back to Mineral, and I was on Baldy Express on the way to Alta and then suddenly the sun peeked out. Having skied all day wondering what it looked like 50 feet in front of me, I couldn't pass up that opportunity so I stayed and skied High Stakes this time. The wind must have blown it to 2 feet in place (steep was key). From the top down, it was wonderful. 

Then time and sun sneaked away so I went back to Alta. Overall I was very pleased back at Alta, I thought my control was way better, my balance was better and I was more fluid overall. I really must have learned something with all that powder work. 4:20 chair up and straight to the car. No delay going down the mountain (the low vis scared people off) so it was a smooth end to a wonderful day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Made it to the top of baldy. My skis only made it 1/2 way but someone else got them up there for me. Had a fantastic run down the Main Baldy Chute. A beautiful clear day - you could see forever from up there. Lot of great snow elsewhere including Tiger Tail off Gad 2 and some fun stuff off Baby Thunder that I think everyone would enjoy some other time. Had about 5 runs off Baldy Express and learned that the "cliff warning" wasn't really that scary and was lots of fun. Overall pretty exhausted but quite pleased with bright sun, great visibility, fresh snow, and lots of exercise.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don't go that way!

James wanted to learn to tele today so I went off on my own. Alta was windy and cold so I headed over to Mineral. That fixed the wind/cold problem but introduced fog - thick fog. I was focused so much on not running into Little Cloud that I fell of the edge into Mineral. I had already decided I didn't want to do that. After a while of going  r e a l l y  s l o w l y, I finally saw a tree! Yey, that guided me down. 

For my next foible I tried to go to Tiger Tail. I looked at one incredibleas run after another on the traverse, but said "keep going they'll get even better." I passed the "no ski patrol past this point" sign (with lots of other people). Eventually I got to the "you are leaving Snowbird" sign and I looked over the edge. It was pretty clear that if I went that way I would be hitchhiking to get back (and no one would know). I turned around until I saw people. Alas these people were WAY better than me. Still I was doing well until my pole (with non powder basket) dove in and I fell. I spent the next 45 minutes looking for that #($*#A$(* poll. Nope never found it. Of course I wasn't the only one who had trouble.

Coming down without a poll taught me why I have been falling lately, I have been using the polls way too much for balance (so this was a gift right). I worked my way back to Alta took a small break then set out to fix this problem with my telemarking instructor. I wasn't dipping low enough and was leaning back too much. Also I was not as fluid as I should be. I need to be more of spring and go up and down (hard when you legs are burning). In the end, I was doing as well as I was with the poll. Last chair for us and back in the car at 4:50. What a day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Best Snow Yet

A great day at Alta with fantastic powder. Lighter than yesterday and practically no one was there. Great runs of West Rustler, High Rustler, East Greely, Supreme Bowl, Catherines, Eagles Nest, and High Nowhere. 10-4:30 without a break. Who can stop? Thankfully I had pockets full of candy since my food was at Collins. 

I didn't trust the way James went and ended up a little closer to the rocks than I wanted. I wiped in the one place you can actually take a picture from Supreme. Heading downhill head first is not recommended. Next time I should fall into the hill when I lose my balance.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trip #5 Begins with Another 2 Feet of Snow

I'm off on skiing trip #5. A beautiful clear day at 38K feet. One of those days that you can see the circular crop fields and yourself zooming by. Kinda cool how fast planes go. When we did have thin clouds we must have passed over one of those intersections in the sky. There were two other con trails (at different altitudes!) going at an angle to our plane as far as the eye could see. As predicted by the wind site James and I arrived early - and in light snow. At the gate at 10, Sandy by 11:00, hopping on the Gadzoom chair at 11:58.

Amazing 2 feet of fresh snow on Tiger Tail was available to anyone willing to follow someone else under a rope. Day 25 yielded the best snow all winter. Also had great snow on Baldy Shoulder, under Supreme, and Gad Chutes. Everywhere else was still amazing but more chopped up. All the climbing to find powder pretty much wiped us out, but it still took 4 hours.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Go Steelers

Another beautiful sunny day. We headed up to Mineral Basin from Alta to get some softer snow and had some great runs on the Ravyn's. I got my terrible towel picture with Eb then a better one where I didn't cover up her face (oops). We finished up with some fun runs down underneath Cecret where I got to see how the skis will do on powder - what a joy to stay on top so easily. The usual mad dash from the top of Alta (2pm) to the airport (4:00). The plane had live TV just in time to watch the superbowl at 30,000 feet. Funny how we had a superbowl with a team I cared about (and who won!) and that was interesting. Who would have figured?