Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Learning - Powder Day

Maripat and Eb did the "tour with a ranger" and apparently it was interesting. I tried to get Kevin to go too but he said "no." He looked at me when I asked "why?" and said "The powder, dad," in that "are you clueless?" kind of way. The little guy hiked up (and skied down) Devil's Castle 5 times (once from the East side). Powder was still wonderful and we were able to get pretty high on the end of Devil's Castle via traverse without that much effort. Compared to what we found at Solitude it was way more easy. Everyone is now quite the powder hound and very comfortable with the fluffy stuff. The 18 inches of snow made this 4th trip of the season (30th day, 8 days total) a wonderful trip.

Quote of the day. Dad to son who has fallen and requested to get up, "If I help you you are no good." Honestly I think it was an accidental word error, but it shows how the words we use for our children are so important.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Devil's Castle x4

Brian, Eb, Kevin and I got ourselves to the east entrance to Devil's Castle just as it had opened. So rather than standing in a line of full of 1) people who were clueless and taking forever and 2) people who were angry at #1 and being irritable, we were slowly marching ourselves up to some amazing fresh snow. By the time we reached the point of hiking my team was spent. The upside was we went down before they did so a wide path of fresh snow was all ours (sorry....). We took an easier run down the same direction then the kids headed off for lunch and ski racing.

I headed to the other side of Castle which no longer had a line and reached the same point via traverse with much less effort (3 times). Simply amazing. There was enough snow that I went for one of the chutes through the cliff below and was pleasantly surprised to see powder at the end [once was enough]. Connected back up with the kids to see them race a few times [with video of course]. They had a blast - and Kevin a cool wipeout.

Kevin and I headed back to Snowbird as we applied our new system where Maripat takes the car back to Snowbird at 3:30 so we can keep skiing and she can check email in the parking lot. We met up with Brian at the top of Mineral, dropped by the jumps, caught the 4:10 mid-Gad and made it to the car around 4:30.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Powder Day!

Snowed most of the day. A total of 16 inches were more than enough to have a great time. Brian and I started with Peruvian and settled into a pattern that ended up in the trees of Dalton's Draw. Deep, steep and untracked. Eventually Mineral opened up and before 1000s of people showed up we had 2 great powder runs. Met up with Kevin and Eb (and Mp briefy) and skied the powder of Baldy Express - great practice for them. Took them all up to the Cirque and used the fog to cover what they were doing. Everyone did great even if they couldn't see where they were going. Eb and I finished the day going back to MB, then doing the Cirque again. Full day, no break, lots and lots of powder, snow falling, hard to see. Skiing in Utah as I remembered it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Skiing with Kids

Got to ski with Eb and Brian some, and we actually got some snow. I also finally listened to my 5th metatarsal and chatted with a bootfitter. $86 later including some testing on the mountain and I now have two sets of boots which fit MUCH better on both R&L. Next time I could probably get a 102-104 last boot. Finished the day with Eb going through the trees on Collins and then down East Greely enjoying the fresh stuff.

Brian took Kevin out for some jumping since apparently skiing with his mom wasn't challenging enough. Mom actually looked pretty good. Maripat just said she found $500 skis that were perfect for her. I didn't catch the fact that she was kidding; perhaps she wasn't?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baldy Shoulder x 3

Baldy Shoulder (in fact all of Baldy) opened up for the first time of the season [before it was just Main Chute]. Brian and I had three great trips up Baldy from the Snowbird side then down Baldy Shoulder back into Alta. The first time I saw my efforts go up in flames as my ski flew down the mountain and finally stopped about 100 feet short of the cliff. Thankfully some folks found it and propped it up for me to get (after trying to ski on the other one). The second two trips down were much more successful (and I had a higher DIN setting).

Made it the car by 4pm so we could make it to a Mexican dinner at El Chubasco with Stu, Heather and Jaden. Best Mexican food in SLC so far [which sadly isn't saying much, but it is really good and inexpensive!] After that we saw their quite nice digs at Deer Vally - Not Exactly Roughing It as they say at DV.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bend Your Knees

Lesson for the day was bend you knees. Everyone is slowly getting there. Spent the morning skiing with Kevin and Eb. We went over to Snowbird in search of softer snow; then went down Road to Provo toward the tram (brrr!). Eb scared the heck out of me on the way down Lower Dalton's Draw. She took a bump too fast (she was trying to avoid the shubs and trees I was dragging her though) and hit her chin with knees. She screamed bloody murder but a few minutes later was able to ski down. Next up, a couple trips down Mineral Basin were a blast then back to Alta for lunch (a late start).

Brian and I headed to Devil's Castle where we barely got in 2 runs. Lots of soft snow. Glad I took the Rayvn's after all. Some more good runs together then back home. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get out a little earlier and more hopefully it will actually snow on Wednesday. And we'll work in rising and falling as we turn and hit bumps.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mp On Edge

Had a good time skiing with Eb and with Maripat. A few inches last night covered up things a little. In the afternoon we got a little sun then a little snow. It stinks being on the edge of the north part of the front [will storms ever just come through SLC!]. Spent the afternoon cruising around Alta checking out snow here and there. Skied on the B4s which are really quite good for these conditions. Unfortunately, I haven't been very nice to them. 2 really big core shots a sidewall fracture - but it should be good to go tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Future Olympian

Despite the late hour of arrival at SLC and Sandy (home at 10:45, 12:45 EST) everyone was up and ready this morning and out the door before 9 to start the 4th Utah trip (for me, 3rd for them) and my 23rd day on the snow. Pretty amazing when you consider that the packing list for skiing is longer than the one for flying out here. Sadly the prior storms hadn't been quite as productive as planned, but that translated to fewer people and a reason to hunt around. Bookends again were pretty good and relatively easy. Gad chutes weren't so great but above Big Emma was fun. Kevin apparently did the Alta Race Course and had a great time [31.28, worth a gold pin!]; looking forward to next Friday when it opens again - last chance for Kevin this year!

Brian and I were pretty bushed from all the travel. Kevin and Maripat were doing the best to keep rolling on Supreme and Eb was resting at Albion Base. So this was a day to stop at 2:30 and be happy for what we had. By then the snow had started to fall and the light was awful, so it really was best to move on and see what tomorrow brings. That left time for shopping, hot tubbing, full dinner, desert (of course), and olympics - so a complete day all in all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow who said snow?

A quick trip the airport to drop off James and Grey and I was at the top at noon. [Follow up: James finally left the airport for LA at 7:30]

We were supposed to get trace amounts so I started the day with the Fishers. But somehow it looked more like 8 inches so I traded them for the Rayvn's. Still not deep enough to cover up the bumps or the hard surface or the rocks but certainly enough to have some fun. And the Rayvn's are able to float. The top was a little tricky in terms of visibility but further down the mountain one could find pockets of snow. In never had to wait for the tram so the day just went on and on. Ended up with some runs down wilbere which was in excellent shape as well. What a great end to my 3rd trip to Utah, 6 days on the snow, and my 22nd day skiing this season!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

East Castle

Alta opened up East Castle yesterday so I brought my skins and my AT setup with the Naxo and B4s. What a joy to be able to blow by other people for a change (usually I am the slow-poke clogging the blady climb). Made it all the way to the top as you can see. From there you get a full 360 view so we'll see if I can autostitch the pics.

The first time down I followed some other guy (who took this picture) but after taking a closer look I saw lots of rocks and narrow shoot. Good thing I passed since my B4/AT boot skiing was not very impressive (the equipment of course, not me). I did some shorter walks to get to the terrain between E Castle and Devil's Castle so I could practice with the B4s some. In the end my last trip down was my best. Probably good that I am getting used to "narrow" skis on powder, but it is still frustrating to sink into the snow [hard to do on the HellBents]. Finished up on the groomers - the Naxo's did just fine. My only complaint relates to my skiing ability on narrow skis with AT boots - practice, practice, practice.

Talked to a guy who has a 1/5th share of one of those houses in the middle of Alta. It takes a snowcat to get there (wife insisted). Internet isn't a problem - they get DSL - the problem is water. Apparently the spring freezes occasionally and they need to pull from the cistern [how clean could that water be?]

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More bookends

Apparently someone wasn't listening and they went down Baldy via a closed route and got hurt; so they closed Baldy. I did see one line from Baldy to MB which was pretty amazing but I didn't want to take a picture lest my children try and repeat the line some day.

So instead I went back to the bookends. But since I couldn't climb Baldy I was more motivated to go the bottom of the bookends. Great snow!. It was well worth it. And with my AT boots and backpack and the fact that it is a cat trail - it was pretty easy. In the picture you can see the long slow walk back to the chairlift (top left). Back at Alta at the end of the day some spots had gotten soft but still 95% wasn't worth skiing on.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Baldy Opens

3 wonderful trips to the Castle (2 from Supreme), but I didn't think my enthusiasm could last the entire day, until ... Baldy Main Chute opened. From the Alta side, heavy boots and all I climbed my way (s l o w l y) to the top. Beautiful blue sky. Then lots of hopping down the chute on those way too wide skis that everyone comments on [and yes the graphics too get comments]. A tremendous run then back to miserable front side which just got worse and worse through the day [no wide skis please - I finally found snow on which they are miserable!].

Grabbed Brian's now repaired ski, traded my boots for lighter ones and grabbed warmer mittens [gloves didn't work] and my backpack/water. Back to Alta-side. I figured time was short so I just hiked to "living the dream" which was powder but thin and not as good as as the castle; but the hiking was way easier with the lighter boots and the skis on my back. A quick trip down MB (yuck there as well) then back up Baldy. Arrived VERY tired at 3 and was thankful they close at 3 (sadly as does the Castle). With the boots is went pretty well. On the groomers at the bottom the boot/ski combo was miserable. Dropped my skis off for a little work and headed home. Thanks Alta for compensating for awful snow by adding Baldy.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


All day long Alta said that Castle wasn't going to open today despite bombs going off and an enormous line that developed to get up Sugerloaf. After a few ski-bys I decided to trust them and headed off to Snowbird. Found excellent snow on MB so I thought I should try out the front side. Cirque was skied out, so I went for the stuff above Gadzoom - worse. Ok, the extreme right off Peruvian should be good. It was better but still not MB. Through the tunnel and off to the bookends - WAY past where I had ever gone before. It was beat up, sure but powder nonetheless and there was even a way to get back without hiking (a climb up Baldy was ahead). Then James called to tell me that Castle was open - grrrr!

Gave up on Castle and set my sites on Baldy Shoulder (after a few more trips to the bookends). It was great but there seemed to be fog rolling in. After more phone calls (what is up with phone today?) I finally got going then another phone call 1/2 way down [past the really good part]. Took it, chatted with my mom then looked up. Totally socked in. Couldn't see a darn thing. 5 min earlier and my Baldy trip would have been toast - phew! Worked my way through the clouds but again gave up on the Castle since it was past 3 after all. So today is the day that they ignore the 3:00pm sign and let folks use it 'til 3:30. More grrr. Got a chair at 3:55 and was about to do keyhole yet again (really cool avalanche), but had a wipeout that said - "you're tired Brad." So I had fun through the Cecret trees and called it a day (a busy day).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Seeking Solitude

I finally got out to Utah for a trip alone (#3, 17th day of the season). Admittedly, I was already in San Antonio for a Pain Medicine conference, I had already cancelled a trip to come before the conference and I figured (kevin speak) "what the heck?" despite the probably lousy snow and mediocre forecast.

The last Sat with the family was so jammed and everyone always says "Solitude is great and empty" that I thought it would give it a try, despite the $50 price (in town). So we were off to Solitude with James, Katie, Grey, and Jess. The steep areas in Honeycomb Canyon suffer from:
  1. the terrain varies widely so a steep section is followed by flat then by a 10 foot cliff then rocks, then close trees. It's hard to pick a line or put multiple turns together.
  2. to get there one goes up one lift, crosses the entire mountain, goes up a slow double, then goes up another double; this kills the fact that traverse is pretty easy.
The rest of the mountain was pretty bumped up. In a different year no doubt this wouldn't be true and there would be acres of powder everywhere