I'll start with the surreal, which by now has become common knowledge to most Western skiers: April powder has been pretty darn good. With Beaver Mountain closed for the season (closed with 112 plus inches mind you), we took advantage of Snowbasin's springtime rate, $54, with the additional discount of 12 bucks for owners of another resort's season pass. We found powder.
Hiking up No Name. Photos: Bob and Tom
Deep enough for Tom.
Johnny blasts through some good stuff.
Bob, thinking it's February.
Okay, this is actually quite fun.
But hey, spring skiing isn't all face shots and S7's. It can also be some of the most sublime skiing one can find. I now go back to Snowbasin, Wednesday, April 6, apologizing for no photos but I was skiing solo and just didn't think to bring a camera. More's the pity, because the views from the top of Allen Peak were amazing. The cornices along the ridgeline toward Mt. Ogden looked like, well, surrealistic pillows, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
I truly think that the best part of spring skiing is corn snow, but around here that's not often available from lift-serviced skiing, so the next best part about spring skiing is the variety one can find, all in one day. Wednesday was just such a day. The report said two new with mostly sunshine. Up to the tram for some of the 2 inches. I head out to the peak skier's left from the men's downhill start. The second smaller chute to the north is trackless. And it's filled with about 4 or 5 inches of wind deposit powder. I lap the tram, ski it a second time, putting in second tracks. Then a third. And a fourth. I'm the only skier who's been in there. I head out to No Name, find similar snow up top for 300 yards, where it then crusts up, so I head south to Shooting Star where a more southerly exposure creates a sour-cream like snow. I follow it down into the gully where the crud has softened into a marvelous meringue, filled with soft lumps of lemon filling. I'm skiing Dynastar Contact Limited's and they love slicing the pie.
I ski a few laps on the Needles gondola, and discover that the powder, while a bit heavy, is just perfect for maintaining speed through the glades and whoop-de-doo's west of the middle bowl triple. I finish by hitting the empty groomers of Bear Hollow and Becker's, where I lay out carved turns against the banked sides. In one run I've hit soft crud, crunchy crud, soft powder, and just-right spring groomers - not too slushy, not too hard. Sublime skiing. Time for some hiking.
I hike up Allen Peak, thinking to ski the first finger. I had seen one skier come down and it looked okay. As I peer into the chute, I notice that the north side's powder had sloughed off, but the south side looks nice. Ignoring the first rule of scouting snow conditions - know what the snow is like BEFORE skiing - I jump in. First turn to the south is fine, but as I ski toward the south side of the coulier, the snow changes to a stout two inch crust atop two inches of sugar snow. My uphill ski breaks under the crust, submarines upward, and pops off. In what I guess is a 40 degree plus slope, I'm concentrating on keeping my balance. When I come to a stop, I glance uphill to find my ski but see nothing. After digging around for 5 minutes, I decide it must have rolled down, out of sight. I'm now left with a long, arduous side-slip 3/4 of the way down before finally spotting my errant ski. I pop in and then dominate the apron.
While none of the ski runs in and of themselves would be considered epic, the sum total of the day has become simply sublime. Combined this day with the surreal powder skiing a few days later, and it's been a pretty darn fine way to enjoy springtime in the Rockies.
Edited by Bill Emmett - 4/14/11 at 6:26am