Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 15-16, 2018

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Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 15-16, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:50 pm

The recent trend of warm and dry Iron Blosam weeks came to an end Wednesday. By Thursday morning there was a foot of new snow, and another 6 inches fell Thursday night. The first storm started out very wet, which probably helped bond the snow to the 70+% melt/frozen base, and then dried out for a desirable right side up snowpack.

These were also two days where I got lucky and was in the right place at the right time frequently. We were in line at Collins at Alta about 9:05AM Thursday and on the lift at 9:25. The High T was open immediately so I led Liz, Al and George out to Greeley Hill. I did not see any of them after that until lunch as light was flat and George had a binding release. I followed admin’s routine and took 3 more laps out there as it is so wide and thus easy to make new tracks for awhile. Weather was not that cold, 27F at the base and 17 up high. It was mostly overcast but clouds were usually not thick enough to obscure the sun completely.

After 4 High T’s I needed a break and so skied Vail Ridge. I then noticed people coming out of Patsy Marley, so I moved to Supreme for 2 Catherine’s laps. On the first I took a more direct line and could make only the lower Patsy Marley traverse. I followed a couple of enticing tracks that led to a cliff jump, but I managed to back up a bit, then find a couple of openings where my skis would not have to leave the ground. I navigated better on the second lap and so finished with this.

I managed to get a text out suggesting lunch at Watson’s at 1:15, so I took Sugarloaf in that direction. While riding the chair I noticed the first hikes being allowed up the ridge to the upper section of Backside, which is open for 30-45 minutes before the gravity traverse. So I took the EBT and started the step up. Just as I passed the top of Collins Al and George unloaded so I told them to come along. George was too tempted by wide open upper Yellow Trail and skied its fall line into Glory Gulch. As I had never been up there before I persevered around the corner but did not drop in immediately as 3 locals thought it had been skied by too many people and I saw an Alta patroller traversing farther. That traverse was ugly over bomb debris with several rocks showing, but I did get to the next wide open area. Avy control had released some surface sluffs, but my DPS Wailers carved through those smoothly and soon I was skiing untracked down to the row of scattered trees. View back up:

The skiers in the picture came from the same place I did. Perhaps one of them is Al, as he said at lunch that’s where he went.

Zoom of the upper entries to Backside:

Several people are on that last traverse I did.

I rode Sunnyside and Sugarloaf and skied to Watson’s via a smooth line not far past Sunspot. Al, George and Liz all skied in this area and also in the trees near the Collins lift. These areas usually get hammered before the High T opens, but not today as the High T was open from the start. I got to Watson’s about 1:25 and we all had a leisurely lunch after such a busy and successful 4 hours of mostly powder skiing.

Al went back to Snowbird after lunch. The rest of us took the gravity traverse into Backside and George left after that. Liz and I took one more run, in my case upper Jitterbug to lower Stonecrusher. Liz traversed slightly lower than the High T into the same general area and praised the very soft snow she found. We were done about 3:30, just as fog enveloped most of the mountain and it started to snow again.

I skied 19,000 vertical, about 8K of powder on Thursday.

On Friday at Snowbird only a handful of people got out early, but I got out just in time about 9:15. The objective was to ski areas that had not opened Thursday: Powder Paradise, Bookends and Road to Provo. To that end I did not ride Wilbere, but walked about 50 feet past the lift and skied to Gadzoom and then Little Cloud. Temperatures had dropped to the mid-teens and it was a cold shady ride up those first two lifts. The rope dropped on Mineral Basin just as I got off Little Cloud. I was too tempted by the untracked right off the road even though it had been open Thursday. It was a bouncy ride down the fall line, but I angled across Silver Dipper at a more intermediate pitch and a smoother line to the Mineral Basin lift. The next laps were to the newly opened terrain between Powder Paradise and Bookmark Gully and they were fine indeed in the 18 inches since Wednesday.

On my 4th run I noticed that the shorter fall line of White Diamonds was only lightly tracked, and it skied just as well. I knew the subsurface would he hard with the south exposure, but as it’s past the Thursday guntower closure point you were not hitting that subsurface with 18 inches new on top. I later found out that Liz had skied White Diamonds on all 4 of her Mineral Basin laps.

Liz was on her own but continued to do well. She later took the lower Tigertail gate and ended up at Baby Thunder, which had not been open all week. So she got a few laps in there with little competition for the new snow.

Patrol was blasting the Bookends while I was making the Powder Paradise laps. Here’s view of the puff of smoke in the sky from a blast and the slide it created.

I decided to give Baldy a try and ran into Al at the base of the lift. There were enticing tracks to looker’s left riding the chair, but Al had just skied that and wanted to try the right. That was a great call because the gate to Ski Patrol Gully had just opened. This was a pristine run with 3 open sections and only a handful of people. The exit was a bit tedious with a short uphill, then a sideslip through the lowest rock band of Sugar Cliffs and a traverse back to the Mineral Basin chair, all well worth it with the quality of that run.

While riding Mineral we saw the opening of Bookends. We headed out there and here's Al skiing our first run in the Endoras.


After a second Bookends run farther out it was close to 12:30 and Road to Provo was the remaining closed area. It was estimated to take another hour so we took a much needed break in the Hidden Peak restaurant. I could view Little Cloud from the deck there to check on the closed terrain. We left Hidden Peak about 1:20 and got in the line you can see here.

Adam arrived just as the rope dropped at 1:35. Little Cloud Bowl was wide enough for anyone who had been waiting to get a clean line of fresh tracks comparable to some of our other successes off Mineral and Baldy. I then got a couple of runs through the Rastas and another Little Cloud Bowl cutting hard right once I dropped in to get under the sketchier entries that had drawn less traffic. There was no time for pictures while skiing but I took this one of Little Cloud Bowl while riding the lift.

By the fifth run out past Hoops the snow was fairly cut up, so I decided to call it a day. But I thought Middle Cirque would be the more interesting way down and it definitely exceeded my expectation. I got into the far skier’s right chute by the rope line and was pleased to find very soft turns most of the way down. I also skied Green Forest before hitting Rothman’s and groomers on the lower mountain.

I skied 21,100 vertical Friday with about 11K of powder. These were my two best ski days during Iron Blosam Week since 2011.
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: 10549
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Alta/Snowbird, Mar. 15-16, 2018

Postby jojo_obrien » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:10 am

Great tr. Thanks. Sounds like a great day. Always amazed at your memory/detail and attention to the names of the runs.
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Location: los angeles, ca
Location: los angeles, ca

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