Alta/Snowbird, UT, Mar. 10-12, 2019

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Alta/Snowbird, UT, Mar. 10-12, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:31 pm

We settled into Iron Blosam and as in most years we have the annoyance of the time change for our first night Saturday. So we did not get out early despite 6 inches of mostly overnight snow. It continued to snow much of the morning and there were intermittent snow squalls in the afternoon too.

Liz and I got out about 10:30 Sunday and rode Wilbere and Gadzoom to Little Cloud. My inclination was to spend Sunday at probably less busy Alta. The top of the mountain was foggy and Road to Provo was still closed. Liz skied along the edge of Regulator while I tested the bowl near the lift, using stunted trees, lift towers and occasional skiers for orientation. Snow was probably a foot deep but hard to anticipate irregularities in the subsurface. Liz said she was going to ski lower down for better vis and wanted no part of Mineral Basin.

Tseeb was skiing down to Little Cloud as I boarded it so I waited for him at the top and we agreed to go to Alta via Mineral Basin. The top 500 vertical of Mineral was pea soup, hard to even stay on the traverse to Powder Paradise if someone was not in front of you. Fortunately the fog eased off partway down and we skied to the Baldy chair.

Arriving at Sugarloaf Pass, we took the EBT to the Yellow Trail traverse to check out Backside. Light was flat but manageable. It was probably about 12:30 but Backside was in tracked but not packed mode. I did not expect to be making midday powder turns here; I’m guessing Backside was not open Saturday or if so very late in the day. Ballroom and Devil’s Castle remained closed Sunday. Backside was worthy of an encore via the rope tow and Collins.

On the next two Collins laps we planned to hit Greely Bowl. Run #1 was as soft as expected, fortunate in more difficult light than the Backside runs. But we caught a sunny break on our second High T and decided to use that to check out Highboy. Tseeb had skied there Friday from the very highest entrance, which I had probably skied only once before lifetime. Yes the bumps were there, but well spaced with a lot of powder over them, as demonstrated by Tseeb here.

On the next High T lap we hit the top of Greely, then traversed around far enough left to get the lower part of Garbage Chute. From there we had to negotiate some tight trees and avoid cliff bands. But it opened up into North Rustler with some quite deep powder. A this point we were ready for a short break in Goldminer’s.

We came out around 3PM, took Collins and the High T only a bit past Sunspot, probably skied something in Columbine. Now we rode Wildcat and took the long combination of traverses and moguls to head for Snowbird. This seemed like the right day to test admin’s favorite late afternoon powder stash.

The steep upper part had been lightly skied but was still well over a foot deep and not hitting subsurface. Down below we could spread out and ski completely untracked lines.

I skied 4,300 vertical at Snowbird and 12,700 at Alta, probably about 7K of powder.

On Monday Liz and I got out at 10AM, once again with me planning to take her to Alta. But there was a IT glitch requiring us to go to the tram plaza to get a day ticket. They warned us we might have to do the same at Alta, but our Ikons worked fine there. We heard later that Brighton had an Ikon problem Monday also.

So we took the tram once we had tickets, and here we got very lucky. Road to Provo was closed when we boarded the tram but open when we got to the top. Since Road to Provo had been closed for a week, there was no plowed road, just an irregular traverse with a few wind drifts to get over. If you got too low on the traverse you had no chance of getting back up in a week’s worth of new snow. So I bailed off that traverse early (Shireen area) for the first run. That area is sometimes wind affected but it was consistent dense powder this time.

The first Little Cloud line was quite short so I got a good shot of the first tracks in the Rastas riding up.

Notice the congested traverse center left.

On my second run I wanted to be on the highest traverse line but got forced lower. I skied diagonal powder across Mark Malu and then the more cut up Rastas.

For my third run after a more than full maze Little Cloud I was more patient. I got on the highest traverse to get a few untracked turns before the lower Rasta traverse I had skied on the second run. But I kept going past Hoops and did a few step ups to reach an untracked line in the Bonar’s Pass area.

I was about done and ready to head for Mineral and Alta, but Little Cloud chair was closed. This was a first; the chair closed for 20 minutes to clean up the carnage. I didn’t notice, but Liz saw three meat wagons on one of her runs. I did see my fair share of downed bodies. But that cluster up on the traverse was making it tough for patrol to get to the accidents, so thus the temporary closure.

Liz was nearly at the front of the line when Little Cloud closed, so she had headed down. We met at Gadzoom, and Little Cloud opened by the time we got back up. We skied White Diamonds into Mineral Basin to the Baldy chair.

Riding the Baldy chair we spied two skiers on the highest traverse above Patrol Gully with just a few tracks below them. Al Solish and I nearly hit the rope drop on that a year ago for a pristine powder run, so Liz and I had to check it out. This time was just as good, Liz putting in a first track here.

The exit from Patrol Gully is tedious and often with quite a few rocks, but nearly all of them were covered this year so not too bad getting back to the Mineral chair. Riding Mineral we scoped the lines and snow conditions. We skied Not Quite Corn, still in more winter than spring snow. Instead of funneling into Gheen Gully I spotted this exit to a smoother wide open slope below Limber Pines.

At 12:45 we finally headed into Alta. As on Sunday we skied Backside first. There was no real powder but it still skied very well, not that bumpy yet.

There was softer snow in these trees below.

We got down to the Albion base, called our friends George and Buffy. There were skiing with Al Solish and just finishing up lunch at Alf’s. S o we all met at Supreme, also with Andy, an Iron Blosam Week 10 owner whom George and Buffy had met at Snowbasin a few days ago.

Andy led us on a run to Supreme Bowl. During many of our Iron Blosam weeks it’s in melt/freeze mode but it was all winter snow today. George, Andy and all here:

However Supreme Bowl was heavily mogulled and this was the point where my legs fatigued from the past three days skiing.

We took another Supreme run, in my case down groomed #9 Express, then a traverse right to the White Squaw area under the lift.
We were all a bit fatigued but we still wanted to ski the admin route back to Snowbird. The traverse/moguls were tedious but we took our time getting there, so I had one last reservoir of energy for the run into Snowbird. We had a good view of the Wasatch Powderbird tracks from Mt. Superior down to the road.

The good news is that the run to Snowbird was still only modestly tracked. The bad news was that at low elevation and west facing it was what I call “Baldy powder” from heavy sun effect. With some effort I managed to put together 15 or so untracked gorilla turns, then stopped to take pictures.

George is just below left of center in the most wide open section.

Al decided to traverse left into the area below Comma Chute.

We skied to the bridge and called it a day. I skied 10,800 at Snowbird and 7,800 at Alta, about 5K of powder. These two days have illustrated the value of the combined AltaBird pass with Ikon.
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: 10915
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Alta/Snowbird, UT, Mar. 10-11, 2019

Postby kingslug » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:28 am

Nice pic of Comma chute, never seen that before. Did ski it once.
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Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:56 am
Location: NY

Re: Alta/Snowbird, UT, Mar. 10-12, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:08 pm

It seems many of us skied Comma Chute in 2010-11. To my knowledge it has never been open since, even though coverage two years ago and this year is more than adequate.

Tuesday March 12 was a lull between two storms. Liz and many of our Iron Blosam group took the day off. The morning was sunny, and the afternoon was cloudy but still warm, 35F at the top and over 40F at the base.

I got out from noon - 2PM, felt my legs fatigued from the prior 3 days and mostly stuck to groomers for 8,700 vertical. I skied into Mineral on Bassanova, then Regulator to Gad 2 and finally Bananas to lower Bassackwards and crossed to the Wilbere base.

The warm weather softened most sunny exposures, and in March that means west and east as well as south. That resulted in noticeable subsurfaces during the early stages of the next storm on Wednesday. By Thursday those subsurfaces were well buried under 30 inches of cumulative new snow.
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: 10915
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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