Day 38 Thur 3/3. Snowbasin 2200m (86800 total)

Strange Days Indeed

Had hopes of the last 2 ski days at Alta but they got absolutely nothing last night whereas Powder Mountain was reporting 20cm fresh, so was grabbing coffee at Java Jo’s at 7.45, figuring I had time to get to Eden for the 9am bus.  Halfway up I-15 it looked like the sky was falling – got very black and started pouring rain – about 6 deg above so not even close to snow.  Then of course the inevitable crash somewhere ahead and the corresponding delays put my plans right out.

Was sleeting when finally got to Ogden and that turned to snow at the mouth of the canyon – and it bucketed down.  By halfway up there was several cm accumulated on the road and things started getting twitchy.  No chance of making the bus and there was no way I was driving up the PowMow road in these conditions – it’s tough enough on a good day – so kept going through Huntsville and headed for Snowbasin.  Snowing so hard couldn’t see a thing, car trying to slide and wipers decided to choose this moment to ice up – great fun.  Crawled up to the Snowbasin turnoff and if that road had been plowed there was absolutely no evidence of it.  A couple of cars stuck in the middle or the side of the road, wheels spinning uselessly, sometimes trying to back up and loonies choosing those moments to pass at speeds that were just crazy for the conditions.  Arriving gave a real sence of achievement.

Snow starting to taper off by the time I’d got orgainised and onboard the gondola.  Three fifths of bugger all visibility at the top, but I had procrastinated just long enough as they opened the Strawberry area (my favourite here) just as I was about to head off.  The first few turns were like flailing in whiteout and the knee was screaming protest, but once I got down a bit got it all together, the body calmed down and I got some delightful turns in as I got third tracks down the lower part of the area under the chair.  The sun even came out – this is great!

Enjoyment came and went after that.  Halfway up the gondola started rocking in cross winds and the sun decided it had put in enough of an appearance, and by the top visibility was back to slightly less than zero.  Tried dropping down below the lift line but just kept getting steeper as headed toward cliffs and tried to start small slides so kickturned my way back toward some trees.  Eventually found a rope line and between that and the trees managed to find some great turns – skiing by touch but the snow was consistent enough to just go for it.

Half way down found a dozen skiers spread out looking for someones ski – report may have been 20 cm but when you fell you often found yourself in more than a metre.  Joined the hunt for a few minutes until they abandoned all hope and the lucky person got to do the rest of the run on one ski.  Further down what had been sensational and sunny first time around was now turning to glop.  Finally made it to the base and stopped for a bit for a coffee and snack hoping it would clear a bit – yeah, sure.

Up top next time visibility lifted for just long enough to reveal a 5m plus wall of snow looming above the gondola top station.  Had decided to return to the base area, but that was easier said than done – snow was now chopped up and it was a pure fluke that I found the home trail signs.  Got some good turns in the trees below here but then the snow deteriorated rapidly. I found myself pondering the various possible tenses of mank – this is mankier, it was more manked, manking awful etc.  When finally made it to the base there was no way I was heading back up so headed in to the palatial dining room for lunch, then visited the marble laden bathroom.  This place is SO over the top.

Sun came out again but I wasn’t going to be fooled that easy and was happy to call it a day.  The road out was clear of snow and dry – would not have believed it possible.  Hit more rain on the drive back to Salt Lake – at least the car is looking clean for the first time in weeks – and even some hail when I got out to get a coffee.  Back to the motel and start on the first packing attempt – this should be fun.

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