Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

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Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:07 pm

We drove to Utah March 7 and alternated days between Alta and Snowbird for the fist half of our annual trip.

A 30-inch dump concluded March 4, but Alta was about 70% winter snow on March 8. Temps peaked around 40F at the base and just under 30F up high. There was also a thin cloud layer all afternoon and occasional light breeze. As a result spring conditions did not advance beyond where they were in the early morning. Winter snow prevailed after you got about 1/3 of the way into Backside for east facing and similarly on West Rustler for west facing. Just a slight bend to NE to NW aspect yielded fairly soft winter snow. Backside had been well churned during the powder phase so skier packed lines were best there.

Spring conditions advanced gradually on Friday/Saturday. Friday at Snowbird had similar temps and the thin cloud layer in the afternoon, but there was no wind. Saturday at Alta had the same temperatures but it was predominantly sunny. Sunday at Snowbird was when spring conditions became widespread, as max temps were about 10 degrees warmer.

One of the reasons to ski Thursday was for a DPS demo event. I left my freshly tuned Bonafides with DPS to get the Phantom base treatment. Liz and Tseeb demoed lots of skis but I only tested two: the Wailer 106 in both Foundation and Alchemist variations. The latter succeeded the Pure Carbon construction of my 2016 vintage 112 Wailer powder skis. I warmed up first on groomers, then on Harold’s and Backside before getting my first demo. I took that to Backside right away where of course it gave a smoother ride in unconsolidated snow than my 78mm width K2 Apache Recons. For the next lap I went out the High T at 12:30, pleased to find that snow was not hardpack and skied upper Jitterbug to lower Stonecrusher.

I cruised a few runs, then returned for the second demo, where I met Tseeb and a couple of other people. We skied to Sugarloaf via a very nice slot in the Chartreuse area. On the way back we went out to Highboy, following a clean upper entry Tseeb had found Tuesday. Back on our own skis, Tseeb and I skied a lap through Supreme Bowl. I was having a sluggish first day in Utah, so I called it a day after returning to GMD via Ballroom and 22,800 vertical.

The only picture I took Thursday was this zoom of Sundance (just left of center) from Sugarloaf Pass.
IMG_4212.JPG


On Friday at Snowbird Liz and I took a tram and headed into Mineral Basin. We ran into a fairly large group from last week’s Gathering and skied 4 Powder Paradise laps, the last two pushing out to the longer chalky fall line of Bookmark Gully.
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We returned to the front side via Hoops, going to lunch at mid-Gad at 11:45 to beat the crunch there. After lunch most of the group (eastern bias, including Liz) wanted to ski bumps on Gad 2. I skied the tight slot through the trees immediately skier’s right of the lift. Next time up Gad 2 I left to explore more of the alpine skiing I prefer and to assess what was skiable in this year’s subpar snowpack. By mid afternoon the bowl under the Little Cloud chair skied very well. I next traversed from Little Cloud to the Upper Cirque and the ridge up there is as rocky as I’ve ever seen it. I finally worked my way to Slot 11, which had a few rocks and lots of bumps at the top but very good snow on the apron below. I took a couple of pics from below. Great Scott area:
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Upper Cirque:
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All week there has been very little skier activity up there due to the difficult entries.

I took a final tram run to Upper Silver Fox, which is usually Snowbird’s gold standard for snow preservation. The snow was indeed smooth soft chalk on the upper part, but there are a couple of rocky choke points if you enter from the highest gates. I skied to our car on the bypass road by 3:45 and thought 18,600 was enough with another week of skiing ahead. I waited about half an hour for Liz, who skied Gad 2 quite late and barely made last chair on Peruvian at 3:59.

On Saturday we joined admin at Alta, eventually meeting a few people skiing the full weekend after the Gathering. But first we had to pack up the booze supply for ~30 people for a week at Iron Blosam.
IMG_4211.JPG

Ben and/or Adam usually handle this job, but both of them flew rather than drove in 2018.

The morning was mostly mellow, skiing groomers on Collins, Sugarloaf and Supreme, but then heading out Catherine’s to see how much soft snow might be left. Then we hit the Patsy Marley traverse as far as I have ever been on it. View down Little Cottonwood Canyon from that:
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The objective was low angle but north facing Albion Gully, but admin thought it was likely sun affected so we continued on to ACL Chute. The skier’s right bent just far enough west to have a sun crust, but Mark Meisner found a mellower line skier’s left that yielded a handful of powder turns. Mike from the Gathering group skiing there:
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We rode Sunnyside and Sugarloaf and skied to lunch at Watson’s. After lunch admin led us to High Stoner. He and Mark Meisner at the top:
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The entry between me and them had a few rocks and tree roots to avoid, and more of them were exposed when I returned there Monday. Snow quality in High Stoner was outstanding, quite soft and well worth that sketchy entry.

On our next High T lap we skied Eagle’s Nest. In this year’s snowpack there was a longer tight sideslip entry going around the trees to the right.
IMG_4236.JPG

Snow was good here too, but more skiers had been there as evidenced by growing bumps.

By now it was mid afternoon so time for West Rustler runs on Santa Claus and Watson’s 1. The steep upper parts still held smooth winter snow while transitioning to spring snow below the Saddle Traverse. I skied 17,800 Saturday, finally feeling normal after being somewhat tired Thursday and Friday.

On Sunday at Snowbird I took a warmup on Chip’s and then met admin on the plaza. We took two Mineral Basin runs on Powder Paradise and Bookmark Gully, then skied out Road to Provo to Hoops. Snow was stiff chalk and bumpy in the middle of the run but smoother if you curled back under the rocks skier’s right. We skied down to the Peruvian chair and traversed from there into the smooth center section of Upper Silver Fox. I wanted to check out Green Forest but admin was skeptical of snow and coverage. I found that it is indeed tight in 2018 requiring a very specific line to connect turns but snow quality was excellent.

We rode Peruvian and the tunnel into Mineral Basin, skiing the now softened Lupine. When we got to the top it was 2:45 so we decided to head out High Baldy to beat any gate closings. View of Chip’s, Upper Primrose and Silver Fox from High Baldy:
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Admin and RickG from the Gathering at Memorial Buttress:
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They were continuing to Upper Armpit, as Rick was staying at Goldminer’s and admin was returning to his car.

Garry and I skied the long fall line below Memorial Buttress, starting with wide open Fields of Glory.
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Fields of Glory was smooth but somewhat tight chalk, and you need to be in control because here’s what is below it.
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This looked like the obvious route from the lift, but it was mostly sideslipping with a couple of rocks in the choke to step over. Garry explored and found a cleaner route skier’s left that merged into my line below the choke.

From there we skied right to Eye of the Needle to get through the second rock band.
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This was much narrower than usual due to the low snowpack.

We rode another Peruvian chair, again traversing into Silver Fox. Then I took Garry with me through Green Forest. Total for Sunday was 19,500 vertical.
http://bestsnow.net
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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Re: Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

Postby kingslug » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:49 am

Looks good for such a sub par season..hopefully it gets better for April when I get there.
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Re: Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:54 pm

kingslug wrote:Looks good for such a sub par season..hopefully it gets better for April when I get there.

Even if it stopped snowing now (and it is snowing now) it would be vastly superior in April to what you would have seen in December.
http://bestsnow.net
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9803
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

Postby Sbooker » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:08 pm

These reports from you and Tseeb help to keep this Southern Hemisphere dweller from going crazy whilst being snow starved over the long summer. Thankfully we can feel Autumn approaching.
We’ve booked for a short break to Wanaka in NZ. We plan to ski Treble Cone and Cardrona. August can’t get here quick enough!
I see Mammoth is having a good March so you’ve got a couple of months decent skiing in front of you by the looks of things.
I’ve also booked flights to Munich for next winter. That was a painful (expensive) experience. I sincerely hope Europe is a great holiday like we always have in Canada or the US. It is no doubt far more expensive than North America. Not to mention the 24 hour (three hour stopover) flight will be trying.
Even if it is fantastic I can’t see us returning because the trip over your way are so easy.
On a separate note it felt strange not buying the Mountain Collective for next winter - particularly because Big Sky is high on the bucket list. I can’t see the MC pass remaining in it’s current format for coming years unfortunately.
Keep the great reports and pics coming.
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Re: Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:52 pm

We have some people in our Iron Blosam group who will be continuing with Mountain Collective rather than moving over to the Ikon Pass. It depends upon one's individual situation.
http://bestsnow.net
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9803
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

Postby Sbooker » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:08 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:We have some people in our Iron Blosam group who will be continuing with Mountain Collective rather than moving over to the Ikon Pass. It depends upon one's individual situation.


I'm a fan of the MC but I would doubt it will remain as it is now for the 19/20 season. Surely it is just completing with the Ikon Pass? Or is Alterra thinking the MC pass appeals to a different market to the Ikon pass?
I'd be delighted if it does stay in play.
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Re: Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 8-11, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:23 pm

Sbooker wrote:I'm a fan of the MC but I would doubt it will remain as it is now for the 19/20 season. Surely it is just completing with the Ikon Pass? Or is Alterra thinking the MC pass appeals to a different market to the Ikon pass?
I'd be delighted if it does stay in play.

The Ikon Pass killed the MaxPass, which had a similar format of 5 free days at many areas but no half price days after that. Most of the higher profile MaxPass areas affiliated with Ikon.

I don't recall the specifics of sbooker's North American trips, but I think he's a bit of a road warrior like Liz and I have been in the Alps and Canada, with 2-4 day stops in multiple places. But the majority of destination visitors tend to stay put for most of a week, so the 5 or 7 day Ikon format may work better for them. Yes, Alterra and Aspen (originator of MCP) must think both passes can coexist. They will probably both continue unless MCP sales crash severely.
http://bestsnow.net
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9803
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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