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A meta-tr (BCC/LCC, Mar 1-6)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Headed to Utah for the first time during the "great heat wave" in the first week of March.  Things started a little sketchy - they hadn't had snow in a while, and the temps were warm.  I think at Alta on Sunday, we had base temps (base of Collins lift) of 55 or so.  Over the course of the week, it got into the upper 60's/lower 70's in town, but the mountains were spared most of the heat.


A friend (an Alta regular, grew up skiing there and now lives 20 minutes from the hill) recommended parking at the Wildcat base, and focusing on the lifts available from there.  We did explore a bit (Supreme, Sugarloaf), but found ourselves coming back to the Collins lift, and particularly to Wildcat, as the crowds were smaller, and the terrain was in better shape.  Conditions were "good" by east coast standards, but the locals at Alta were really sour on them.  That's OK, because it meant more room for us!


(note the empty chairs on Wildcat)


(and the empty everything)


But it's clear that snow was needed:



Monday was Solitude, Round 1.  We didn't have much idea what to expect, and were really, really happy with what we found.  Conditions were much like at Alta, but there was NOBODY there.  The snow was soft, and there was room to run.  We went after our first black runs of the trip, down Challenger and Inspiration, and found them, well, challenging and inspiring.  It was nice to get that under our belt, so we felt like we could handle ourselves on terrain that is steeper (and longer!) than anything we ski around here.


This is my girlfriend enjoying a mellower run:


And me, later on the same one (I think):


There was one spot on the Summit chair that kept weirding me out.  With the flat light and a BIG drop to the ground, for some reason, I kept getting disoriented.  It wasn't quite vertigo, but it was spooky.  It was much better later in the week with better light.


Our third day of skiing took us to Brighton, which I'd heard to be more of a snowboarders' hill (not that there's anything wrong with that...).  Skiing there on a Tuesday, there was, once again, nobody there (a fact no doubt helped by the "lousy" skiing conditions).


The views from Brighton are among the best of what we saw on the trip:



And the narrower tree-lined trails reminded me somewhat of skiing in New England:


With nobody around (and nice soft, forgiving snow), we decided to try some bumps:


Which can be very, very tiring:


I got myself into a little bit of trouble skiing "Little Milly", but the pictures from there aren't very clear.  Basically, the trail hadn't been groomed (much of the mountain had), and was really crusty.  I kept finding myself in places were I couldn't turn (because my skis were stuck in a rut or otherwise locked into crusty stuff), and I found myself headed right towards a big rock, a big tree, or a big tree growing out of a big rock.  It made for a slow process of  choosing deliberate lines (occasionally backing up to find them) and just being very careful to head where I wanted to be.  I need to head back there to get a second chance at it, under better conditions.


Wednesday, we took it easy, headed to Park City to see the Olympic stuff, and generally acted like tourists.  At the end of the day, we headed to Alta for the "Ski Free After Three" thing, did a few runs, and packed it in.  It was cold and windy, and the conditions were (finally) no good (that was the day the Peruvian lift got stuck at Snowbird in the wind).  If it had been our last day, we would have made it work somehow, but we figured we were better off giving our legs a rest...


...and it was a good thing we did, because Thursday brought 12" of Utah's magical snow.  And, boy-howdy, if it's not exhausting to ski in that stuff (even moreso when it's your first time, and you don't really know how to handle it).  We were at Solitude, and it was alarmingly empty.

Not us:




We finally started to get the hang of things, and managed to venture into some new areas:


Me, battling the Headwall Forest:


My girlfriend, all alone in Honeycomb Canyon (where I'm pretty sure I took my core shot):



But of course, it doesn't always go so well... At least falling feels a lot better in a foot of fresh, eh?




Our last day, we were back at Alta, with our local friend. Unfortunately (for us), our legs were pretty burned, and he was WAYYYY better than we are/were, so we didn't get to take full advantage of his expertise, but it was still a great day. Amazingly, we found some pretty untracked stuff off the Wildcat chair, so we spent most of our day there. I made liberal use of the "it doesn't hurt to fall in powder" defense:




We were lucky enough to have some snow throughout the day, which made for a great ending to the week.








It was a great trip, even if the conditions were less-than-optimal for most of it. I think we may try to head back next year.


For what it's worth, we stayed in the Extended Stay America in Midvale (right next to the movie theatre), for less than $400 for the whole week (7 nights). It was a little on the "cheap" side, but had everything we needed. The shower was pretty unimpressive, and the bed was a little hard, but for a budget option, it was great.


As far as vittles were concerned, we routinely après-skied at the Porcupine Pub, just outside of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and I'd heartily recommend their nachos as a good option for a very hungry group of people. The beers there are also a very good selection of local Utah microbrews. I was particularly impressed by the Polygamy Porter and the Abbey Ale they had from one of the breweries. Very good. The Squatter's pilsener is quite good as well, as was the Squatter's Full Suspension Pale Ale. We also enjoyed having Cutthroat Pale Ale at the Goldminer's Daughter, and the full-strength version (Angler's Ale) at the Bayou downtown (a nice, if loud, Cajun place).


We went to the Bohemian Brewpub, and were disappointed (esp. my Czech girlfriend, who was hoping for something more authentic). The beers were ok, and the food was not very Czech (but it was a bit on the expensive side, so it had that going for it). I'd take Squatter's over that place any day. As far as "skiing and eating Czech food" experiences go, I'd recommend skiing at Loveland, and then heading to Sobo 151 in Denver.  Really good Czech food there, if that's your thing.


Overall, I was really happy with the trip. I found myself wondering why I'd gone to the trouble of skiing in Colorado, when it's soooooo much easier to make it happen in Utah. The only potential downside is the weird situation with the liquor laws, but it turns out that Utah just voted to end their "private club" stuff, so next time we're there it will probably be quite a bit different. Maybe 10 foot walls everywhere?


post #2 of 12

scootertig, I was there the same time and at most of the same places onthe same days! Thats wild! I got there Saturday pm. Hooked up with Vince F. from the board and skiied Solittude Sunday, then went back there again Monday so we were there same day. Next day, Tuesday, I was at Brighton same as you. Wednesday I went to Pow Mow and got closed out because of the wind but got a voucher. Thursday Vince and I headed back to Alta and I did Alta again Friday so again we were there same day.


I agree the beginning of the week was less than optimal but the last two days made up for it. I stayed at the Discovery Inn Motel 9 in Midvale on Fort Union. There was an Extended Stay America almost across the street just on the other side of the TRAX line on Fort Union. Was that where youy stayed? As far a grub I loaded up at Smiths and miked stuff I was too pooped each day after skiing to go anywhere.


I did hit the Peruvian lodge Friday after skiing and met some cool people inthe bar. One dude, Alex, and I got into a real metaphysical conversation on the meaning of life, recycling of spirit energy, etc. Hey, its the mountains. He's a local, has a pony tail and is a really cool guy. So if anyone knows Alex tell him the big guy from NY with the ghost dog said hello!


I will dig up my pics and see if I can post them. If it makes you feel any better I did a few face plants over at Gary's Glade on Monday at Solitude and ate some powder Thursday and Friday at Alta. The shots at Solitude hurt a little as there was no new snow but the falls at Alta were just plain fun!


Solitude Moonbeam Base


 Tried the bumps on the left side, bottom of the Moonbeam base. Gong!!! Bad idea!


 Solitude Mid Mountain Gary's in the background.


Motormouse lives!




Brighton (is that you and your girlfriend behind me? Nawww, couldn't be)


Alta on Friday 3/6/09



Edited by theconz - 3/11/2009 at 01:26 pm
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Did you get a picture taken at Solitude, at the midmountain grill on Monday?  I think I took your picture for you...  I definitely remember seeing you.






post #4 of 12

Yup you took that picture of me at mid mountain at Solitude! You know after I added to your thread I remembered you guys sitting at the picnic table and me asking you to take my pic and thought it may have been you and it was.


The other thing I remember is that it wasn't crowded and I saw you guys skiing all day and I was impressed at how well you guys skiied. Your girlfriend also has really good form she hardly moved her upper body at all juist angeld her legs and knees. Better than a lotof men. Much better than me for sure!


So did you see me coming down Gary's? I came down a few times, one time top to bottom and my skis never hit the snow! But my rear end sure did!


LOL that is weird. Well nice to meet you after the fact!

post #5 of 12

"There was one spot on the Summit chair that kept weirding me out.  With the flat light and a BIG drop to the ground, for some reason, I kept getting disoriented.  It wasn't quite vertigo, but it was spooky.  It was much better later in the week with better light."


I really don't enjoy the Summit chair that much.  Towards the end where it goes over that big bowl, you are seriously very high.  I don't get weirded out much, but this spot weirds me out.  Not only that but it is quite slow.


I think the terrain at Solitude is great, but they need a better way to get to the top.  I think a mid-mountain high speed quad to the summit would be the way to go for sure.  Something like Sugarloaf at Alta, or even Collins from the mid loading spot where you can get to the good stuff quickly and easily.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the kind words, theconz.  Gary's was hit and miss that day, since the conditions were a little suspect.  It was MUCH better on Thursday (then again, what wasn't?).


Jana's a much better skier than I am, for sure.  I always say, "what I lack in skill (compared to her), I make up in foolish confidence".  I'm more likely to head into something than she is, but she's more likely to get through it OK.


She says hi, too, by the way!




post #7 of 12

We had our last day at Alta today, and are heading back to VA tomorrow.  It's been a great week, starting with epic powder Monday-Tuesday (Monday was the best because we were skiing in the storm) followed by two bluebird days Wednesday and Thursday.  They staged openings of the various areas at Alta, so fresh tracks could be found every day.  Here are a few pics:


Tuesday after the storm cleared out:




Brother-in-law Ed in Cecret Saddle:




Brother-in-law Joseph in Glory Gulch (his first time in powder, and he was a real champ):




Me in Sugarloaf area:








Goofing off Wednesday:

post #8 of 12

Great post! 


Now, I want to know what gear everyone was using (skis and cameras/lens)?? 

post #9 of 12

Scoot you are welcome but seriously both of youwere very smooth with a minimum of wasted motion.


219 it looks like you hit it perfect! Where is that Cecret saddle? I assume off of the Cecret lift somewhere but don't see it on the map. Looks interesting. Actually everywhere you went looked primo!


I was on Volkl AC40's the first 4 days days before it snowed then went to K2 Coombas the last two days after the dump. I had never skiied powder and it was a bit of a go but it was amazing how much the Coombas helped. They guys at the base ski shop wanted me to try a pair of Pontoons but they looked so darn big I passed. In hindsight they may have been the ticket. Next time I ski powder I will try reverse camber skis.


My camera was a Canon A 590. Just point and shoot pretty easy to operate...unless you are Vince F.!!!

post #10 of 12

Cecret Saddle is in the Sugarloaf area, just below Devil's Castle.  See # 46 on the trail map.  It's a large area with a couple ways to get in, but the easiest is to go through the gate just before the ramp up to Razor Back (#38).  You can also drop down in from above if Devil's Castle is open.


There are many "off the beaten path" runs through Alta that are really fun and adventurous, and will improve your skiing without being killer.  Another good one is to go a short way along the backside (East Greely) traverse, then drop down through 53/52/50.  Honestly, the traverses are the hardest part!  Once you get confident on them, the rest of the way down is easy.  When the snow is deep/soft, the steep sections are quite forgiving and it's a good time to expand your horizons.  On the other hand, I have skied them after 2 weeks of no new snow, when a fall will end with a long slide, and they are a bit scarier.


I think Coombas were a good choice for you -- they are fairly approachable skis and will still do OK on groomers.  The Pontoons would have felt like clown shoes to you!

post #11 of 12

That's good stufff on those spots Skier219, thanks for sharing them. When (not if) Iget back there inthe next few weeks hopefully there will be new snow and I will try them.


You hit the nail on the head with the Pontoons. Thats exactly what I was picturing looking like. Bozo! Those Coombas did surprisingly well on the groomed stuff getting back to the lifts. Almost could use them every day except for ice, and here in the east we get out share of that.


post #12 of 12

Awesome TRs. We were out there this week last year and I'm missing Alta....skiing New England this year and so far so good, but  it's not Alta. The weather sounds about the same though!

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