Alta, UT - 02/28/06

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Alta, UT - 02/28/06

Postby jkamien » Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:52 am

Woke up this morning to rain. Not drizzle, not frozen precip., but honest to goodness rain. I was so depressed, it being my last day at Alta. :cry: :cry: :cry: I was even considering not skiing and just getting an earlier flight out.

But Denver Dan and his crew were game to go, so we went. By the time we got out there, however, the precip had changed to sort of a wet graupel-snow-rain mix. By the time we passed Watson's at the Collins lift bend, the precip changed to wet snow.

We shot down into the trees to the skier's left of Collins and I was amazed at how much a difference about an inch or so of snow made. The crunchiness of the past three days had been replaced by a surface akin to softened butter. The wind was not too bad, we were all wrapped in Gore-Tex and my mood was lifting with every turn.

It was still dumping an odd mix of snow, snain, graupel, maybe even a little small hail or something. Really, the precipitation seemed to change every second. Also, any venturing away from lift poles or trees was out of the question (for me at least), because of the vertigo-inducing whiteout conditions. I'm guessing there were no locals on the hill during such nasty conditions, but I was having a ball. It was far too wet and ugly to even consider taking any pictures.

The best turns of the day were when we finally got out to Supreme and walked up the short hike to Catherine's. Up there, the surface was about ankle-deep whipped cream cheese. Oh, it was very sweet to this Los Angeleno! We skied two of these with the larger group. Cutting from tree stand to tree stand into the narrower shots in kept offering up untracked ankle deep. (I can hear admin snickering as he reads this, but these may be the only powder turns for me this year, and if I say they were powder, they were powder!). Anyway, it was the type of consistent cover that allowed me to snake quick little dipsy-doodle type turns into tight spaces and really ski with abandon for the first time in three days.

The two slower members of our 5-man group split off for lunch at Alf's, but Denver Dan, Seattle Andy and I soldiered on. We ran off three pretty-much non-stop Catherine's with big tish-eating grins on our faces. The third of these runs was accompanied by lightning flashes and the rumble of thunder that shut down Sugarloaf for a little while. Thundersnow is so cool! I wish I could have remembered how to get to the Spiny Chutes admin showed me the other day because I bet those would have been excellent.

A quick lunch for us followed, after which I had to head for home. Very reluctantly, I caught the Alta Shuttle to SLC airport at 5PM to head back to LA-LA-Land, the home of fruits and nuts.
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re: Alta, UT - 02/28/06

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:34 pm

The fresh graupel and "cream cheese" does indeed ski very easily, and it only takes a couple of inches of it to transform the surface for the better.

Let it sit around for a couple of days and set up and it is a different story, as at Baldy a year ago at this time.

Of course Utah is predicted to get some of its usual drier snow soon, so this is all academic to admin and the other SLC weekend warriors.
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