Snowbird, UT, Mar. 9-11, 2021

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Snowbird, UT, Mar. 9-11, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Mar 13, 2021 6:18 pm

Tuesday was cloudy with snow not expected until evening, so many people in our Iron Blosam group including Liz took the day off. With temps in upper 20s it was obvious to stay on north exposures as others were not likely to soften much.

The day looked ominous with thick fog about 500 feet above the base but the fog was only in a patchy band around 9,000 feet. Nonetheless on my Chip’s warmup run the fog at 9,000 was so thick I missed the turn to Rothman’s, a run I must have skied hundreds of times. Fortunately I remembered that Lower Silver Fox was groomed and only had a short crusty traverse to reach that.

Usually I would stick to cruisers on a day like this with new snow predicted later in the week, but I met Michelle and Stefan along with Mark Meisner and Eddie. Mark was on his last day of skiing challenging terrain before his beginner fiancée Elena arrived, and Eddie is only skiing challenging terrain while his 4-year-old is in morning ski school.

So naturally the first place we headed with this crew was the Upper Cirque.
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Wind the day before had stripped the upper steeps to stiff styrofoam type snow but smoothed out the aprons to easy cruising.

Next we skied a couple runs in the Rasta trees for good snow and better visibility than the rest of Little Cloud.
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Next we moved to Gad 2, starting with STH, Michelle, Mark and Stefan here:
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Michelle below me here:
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We also skied the liftline of Gad 2, diverting into the trees during the steepest part which has obstacles under the chair.

The younger generation of Iron Blosam regulars has a tradition of an end of the week rest stop on “the beach” atop Mach Schnell. Mark wanted to do that today so the 5 of us headed out there in much nastier conditions that I’ve ever skied the Ho Chi Minh Trail before. I’ve done this maybe 3x before, all on sunny days, but of course this time there was flat light on Regulator and frozen granular on nearly the entire long traverse. Michelle is at the crux of the narrow turn just short of Ptex Point.
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Mark is in the foreground and Stefan and Eddie are above her. There’s a cliff behind her. Usually we zip around that turn in soft snow but today we stepped down gingerly to set up a controlled speed exit.

At last we relax on the beach with a wine bottle Mark brought.
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Even in the overcast the views are impressive. Up to Alta:
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Down to Salt Lake:
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After the stop I skied Mach Schnell in decent packed powder nonstop to Rothman’s. It was close to 4PM, Liz was in charge of Tuesday dinner and I needed to prep Wednesday breakfast before baking the next morning. I skied 21,700 vertical Tuesday of more interesting skiing than I had expected.

The weather for the latter half of the week was hard to predict, with 3 pulses of disorganized weather passing over the Wasatch. Pulse #1 came from the north and slightly underperformed, leaving 5 inches over Tuesday night. The new snow Wednesday was fluffy, so you were going to hit subsurface unless terrain was mellow, meaning very little of Snowbird. So the pattern of the prior days in trying to stick to north facing was unchanged.

We took Peruvian, Gadzoom and Little Cloud to the top, where Garry left to ski over to Alta and look for George and family. Liz and I took two Little Cloud runs. I was first lured by untracked about halfway out road to Provo, but it was thin with a crusty subsurface. Liz did better farther out with easier pitch and softer base so we both skied that our second run. View up to Rastas from lower down:
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We moved to Mineral basin with some confidence, as we had skied Powder Paradise in winter snow Monday. We first traversed out to Bookmark Gully. While waiting in the considerable Mineral Basin liftline I liked this view of the Bookends.
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It had been skied some but was fairly quiet when I got out there.
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Wednesday was in the mid-20’s but sunny, so we took a break on the Hidden Peak deck. When we were done we spotted Dom, Michelle and Stefan. I persuaded them to ski Upper Silver Fox as we were in rare location at the top in COVID ski season when it’s really not worth using the tram with 25-person capacity.

Upper Silver Fox had excellent snow on Monday and it did not disappoint today either. We skied down, then rode back to Little Cloud so we could ski the Cirque as Dom had originally planned. I skied far skier’s right of Mid-Cirque, finding very lightly skied powder.

By now I was feeling the toll of Tuesday’s energetic skiing plus today’s powder chasing, so was ready to cruise the late afternoon. Liz and I met George and Al at Gadzoom and skied a few groomers there and on Gad 2. Al blew out an ACL at the end of Iron Blosam week last year and despite diligent rehab was proceeding cautiously in 2021.

I skied 20,600 on Wednesday, probably about 3K of powder.

Thursday was pulse #2 of the week’s weather, this one coming from the south but temperatures were in low 20’s and the new snow was dry. It snowed intermittently in the morning nut heavily all afternoon. It totaled 7 inches by the time it stopped while were in the pool around 5:30PM. The upper mountain was in thick cloud, so we never went up there.

Liz and I skied with Stefan, Michelle and George’s son Andrew. Gad 2 was the main area where you could find good snow with decent visibility. We first skied Black Forest, where snow in the bottom of its gully was very good. Next we entered the highest Tigertail gate but skied mellow powder between there and the lower gates.

Andrew and Michelle got a bit low and thus committed to Ted’s Bowl, but Liz stayed high and encouraged Stefan and me to follow her the full length of Tigertail. Here’s Liz at the Pearly Gates before the final steep pitch.
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Lower Tigertail was worth the effort. It had a winter snow subsurface despite the low elevation similar to Mach Schnell, as both are north facing and sufficiently steep.

We all went to Mid-Gad for a thaw and snack break. We decided to check out Baby Thunder and headed that way via Bassackwards and Tricep.
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We skied Tiny Tiger and near the boundary skier’s left of the lift. There was a fair amount of powder but of course that low also a scrapey subsurface. By this time I was worn out and decided to quit at 2:45 with one By this time I was worn out and decided to quit at 2:45 with 13,700 vertical and one more day ahead at Solitude.
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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: Snowbird, UT, Mar. 9-11, 2021

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:55 am

Tony Crocker wrote:I skied 20,600 on Wednesday, probably about 3K of powder.

Remind me again how you determine the amount of powder skied as part of your overall vert?

Also, is Admin still refusing to ski at Snowbird or was that a short-lived protest?
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Re: Snowbird, UT, Mar. 9-11, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Mar 14, 2021 9:40 am

Admin rarely if ever skis at Snowbird. He would only do so if there was an exchange arrangement allowing a few days at other Utah resorts. I'm fairly sure Snowbird passes (Andy and Lisa) allow 2 or 3 days at Alta. It is also possible admin might have a media rate pass with no exchange privileges.

I estimate powder as I go along by a crude proportion of each run. I'm fairly strict about excluding traverses and runouts. This week was very hard to estimate because most runs had considerable subsurface contact. Pulse #1 of 4-5 inches had almost constant subsurface contact. It was very nice skiing when the subsurface was north facing soft packed powder but quite a bit more work otherwise. Pulse #2 of 7-9 inches occurred during the day Thursday and didn't feel all that different from Wednesday. The exception was Honeycomb Canyon at Solitude, which skied quite deep Friday as I suspect it was not open Thursday.

Pulse #3 of another 7 inches fell overnight Friday and I'm sure Tseeb would have hung around to ski that. We did not because:
1) It was a Saturday and we've all heard what new snow Saturday liftlines in LCC are like this year.
2) We had used our Ikon AltaBird days so lift tickets would have been $150 or so for not all that much skiing due to #1 above.
3) My legs had been cooked since Wednesday and I had to pace myself and pick my spots the past 3 days. I had also skied 17 of the previous 18 days, which I think is a record.
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: 10916
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Snowbird, UT, Mar. 9-11, 2021

Postby tseeb » Sun Mar 14, 2021 11:52 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Pulse #3 of another 7 inches fell overnight Friday and I'm sure Tseeb would have hung around to ski that.
If I was there, and had free day on Ikon Pass or otherwise, I would probably have skied for at least a couple of hours as I did last Friday at Heavenly, and Saturday at end of Iron Blosam last year (my last day last season - one year ago today).

But this year, I have not liked the number of people at Heavenly on the two Thursdays I skied there. And so far this year I have not skied a Saturday, when my pass is only free at Heavenly, or a Sunday, when pass is also good at Kirkwood and Northstar. The three previous Fridays I skied were at Kirkwood, on my home, and I stopped skiing between 1:45 and 2:15.

One nice thing in Bay Area traffic that has not yet gone away is 680S from Milpitas to my exit is free-flowing, although exit is very busy. So I can arrive between 4 and 7 PM without freeway stoppages that I tried in avoid in previous seasons by quitting early or late. Heavy and slow traffic coming into Bay Area on 580W and 680S is back in the AM and the opposite is also usually bad in PM, especially on Thursday and Friday.
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