My son and I were up there on Thursday. It was our first trip to Utah, and the last day of our trip. We took the bus up to Alta on Wednesday, from the Little Cottonwood Canyon park and ride, just to see how it would work. It was puking snow when we got to the mouth Thursday morning, and decided the bus was the best option. Figured we could ski till 1:30PM, then have plenty of time to get down to catch our 5:10PM flight home.
Well, let's just say something about the best laid plans....
We only skied a few runs off of Collins before the weather got the best of my son. To be honest, I was having some difficulty with the variable deep piles, howling wind, and minimal visibility. Those with more local knowledge, and wider skis were having an absolute feeding frenzy. Tried a run over on the Sugarloaf side, but it was a total whiteout over there. We did a few more laps off of the Sunnyside lift, and decided to call it around 1PM. We heard later, that they closed Snowbird around 2PM, although Collins and Sunnyside, at Alta, were open till normal 4:30PM close.
At that point, the road was closed for avy control, and we were told it would reopen around 3PM. That came and went while we spent the next hour and a half in the Albion base locker trying to work out backup flight plans with both Delta, and Expedia, to little effect. I want a throw out a huge "Thank You" to Mike, one of the Alta yellow jackets, who went way above the call of duty, in trying to help us.
Around 5PM, we received word the road was open, but oppurtunities to get down were hampered by the mess in the Albion lot. The two buses that were up there were stuck, and cars trying to get out, were fouling up any pathway out. About 20 minutes later, a several additional buses arrived, but the first one we boarded got stuck in the lot. Finally, we got on the back bus, and started down canyon around 5:20PM. We stopped at the Wildcat base, and then the first Snowbird stop with only moderate difficulty. At the second Snowbird stop, just outside the Lodge, we were told to exit the bus immediately, and enter the building.
A bunch of the family types ended up buying rooms at the Lodge, but I thought $185 was a bit dear. Just for asking, they gave us blankets and pillows, and one of the lower level staff said we could sleep in the first floor conference room. Again, huge kudos to support level staff, that really took care of us. I woke up around 6AM Friday to the sounds of shells all around. Went up to the 4th floor to grab a coffee and watch some of the action. Got to see a nice avy coming down Superior, and captured it on my little digicam (Will have to try and post it later).
My biggest mistake was not skiing Friday at the Bird. We watched the patrol making first tracks down around 8:45AM, and it was a beautiful thing to witness. I was too worked up trying to find a cheap way home, after the phone shafting from Delta. We were also told the road would open by 10AM, but that didn't work either. Finally got down around 1PM to a bunch of news people in the park and ride. We did a couple of interviews and headed over to the airport. I don't have any idea if they broadcast any of our stuff, although likely not, as I didn't rise to the bait.
After all of the phone hell, the SLC Delta staff could not have been nicer. They had a special line setup, and got us on the same 5:10PM flight home, that we would have taken the previous day, with no change fees or hassle. Twentyfour hours earlier, they were telling us our tickets were no longer valid, and they best they could do was sell us two one-ways, at $650 ea. Thankfully, I didn't bite.
In the end, it was GREAT trip. All of the Alta, and almost all of the Snowbird staff went above and beyond the call of duty. The SLC UTA bus drivers are some of the coolest people ever (the driver on the way down on Wednesday even tried pulling donuts in the snow covered Wildcat lot
). Leo, on Thursday kept pulling moves out of his backside, even though we were eventually stopped short at Snowbird. My 10yo son has a great story to tell his friends after returning to school Monday. Thankfully, the family in the SUV were unhurt. Sounds like the couple of extra Alta passengers kept their cool and saved the day.
As for me, I can't wait to return.