Snowbird/Alta, UT, Mar. 12-13, 2017

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Snowbird/Alta, UT, Mar. 12-13, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:28 am

The warm and dry weather widespread over the West took a slight dip on Sunday. Temperatures were still in the upper 30’s, but wind up high was consistent and kept much upper mountain snow hard, even in sunny locations like Mineral Basin, Backside and West Rustler. The time change was not timely at all, as Utah is already in the western part of the Mountain time zone. By true sun time Snowbird is now opening at a bulletproof 7:30AM and closing at 2:30PM, just as some west facing areas might be softening.

So under Mountain Daylight Time most of us at Iron Blosam are getting on the hill about 11AM. And even then the only melt/frozen snow likely to be softening is in Mineral Basin, so that’s where I headed with Al and Daniel Solish Sunday morning. We arrived through the Peruvian tunnel (walking as the conveyor belt is out of order) and skied Lupine Loop and two runs on Powder Paradise as the ungroomed remained crunchy. We moved over to Little Cloud, where Mark Malu and the Rastas retained winter snow with their high north facing aspects.

I met Liz, Adam and Ben, who were also on AltaBird tickets and headed over to Alta to meet at Watson’s with Admin, Amy, BobbyD and Admin’s friend Nate visiting from New York. We took a run out to Harold’s/Tombstone, which had Alta’s only easily accessible chalky winter snow. Even admin declined taking an icy High T out to Alta’s more extensive high north facing steeps.

Fortunately Alta’s groomers were in excellent shape. Main St. was good by the time we arrived, and the varied routes down to the Collins base never got too slushy even in late afternoon. Extrovert after lunch was also very good. Bobby D led us from there for one run into Mineral Basin, where he had observed that south facing White Diamonds had softened.

We returned to Alta via Baldy lift, the EBT and Main St. to Collins. Bobby decided since it was now past 3PM to test Sunspot, which takes the most afternoon sun. Upon finding it a still refrozen mess, we knew West Rustler was a hopeless cause and did not go out there. Liz, Ben and Adam all stayed or returned to Snowbird while the Baldy connection was open, while I remained at Alta to submit a data request to ski patrol. Just after 4PM Admin joined me for a final Collins run. We went out the Ballroom traverse but the rope closed it before Harold’s. I skied next to the ropeline for the softest snow but caught an edge and slid partway down the hill headfirst.

We skied to the base and Admin drove me over to Iron Blosam where he stayed for Sunday dinner. I skied 11,800 vertical at Snowbird and 10,400 at Alta.

I’ve had a lot of Iron Blosam weeks with majority spring conditions but rarely a day like Sunday with most of the ungroomed terrain remaining frozen all day. Fortunately the weather warmed in to the mid-40’s Monday and the only strong wind was blowing north to south through Sugarloaf Pass, in your face riding Snowbird’s Baldy chair.

Most of our Iron Blosam group met on the plaza at 11AM, rode Peruvian and skied Chip’s to Gadzoom. At the Little Cloud base I connected Admin’s friend Nate with Adam, Mark and Eddie, with whom he would ski the rest of Monday/Tuesday at Snowbird. We went into Mineral Basin and White Diamonds and then Lone Star to Lower Chamonix. Nate dropping into the bumps there:

We took one Little Cloud run through the Rasta trees and a final Mineral Basin run on Silver Dipper. I headed over to Alta to meet Liz and her Diamond Dogs friends Rob, Don, Dave and Pete at Alf’s for lunch while Nate and our Iron Blosam group remained at Snowbird.

At 2PM I led Liz and her friends to Harold’s/Tombstone. For our next Collins run I conducted the same Sunspot test BobbyD had Sunday, but in the calmer and warmer weather it was more successful. Rob and Liz there:

With the High T now manageable I thought it worthwhile to take Rob and Don to Highboy. Pete is more of an intermediate and Liz wanted me to scout the entries which have been sketchy in recent years. With this year’s better cover we got into the second highest entry, Rob there:

The upper 2/3 of Highboy had soft winter snow with well spaced bumps. View down:

Rob and Don skiing upper Highboy:

Lower down were sun softened moguls close spaced but not as steep. No surprise Rob tore those up at a swift clip.

Around 3:45 Rob and Don followed me into one of the closer West Rustler lines with nice corn snow. Don there:

They called it a day while I took another run to upper Jitterbug, then the Sunspot traverse farther out. Stonecrusher was heavily mogulled so I continued to the lower part of High Stoner. I finally skied Main St. to the long and then crunchy Blackjack traverse to return to Snowbird about 4:30. I skied 10,400 vertical at Snowbird and 11,500 at Alta.
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
Posts: 10078
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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