California’s Drought Forces Apres Staff to Get Creative

 

DROUGHT ridge 011414

With the Tahoe area off to its third dry season in a row (seriously does it ever snow here?), your Squaw correspondent is starting to get restless.  After removing a good bit off base and a bit of core on a rock off of the Squaw Creek chair in December, I finally decided it was time to make moves.  The first full week in January set up well for the Wasatch, with small storms throughout the week and 2+ feet forecasted for the weekend of Jan 10th.  Over several pints of Lagunitas on the 9th a plan was hatched.  Myself and 2 other Squaw loyalists headed east, arriving in Salt Lake Saturday morning (the 11th).  The first afternoon at Alta was good but not great.  Temps were in the high 30s, the sky was broken up but not snowy, and the cover was iffy (still way better than anything Tahoe had).  Only Supreme / Catherine’s was skiing particularly well.  High T was open but you could have mountain biked it.  We were bummed by the temps and the missing storm.  Over Apres beers at the Peruvian the regret started to creep in.  Was this the wrong weekend to have dropped everything for a last minute trip? 

At 7:00 am the next morning the roads were mostly clear at the base of Little Cottonwood, and some sleet was coming down.  As we got higher into the canyon the sleet turned to wet snow and then dry snow.  At the Alta base the wind was blowing sideways, it was puking out, and there was almost a foot on the ground.  We had to wait until 9:30 or so for Collins to open, but it was worth it.  For the next 7 hours we were treated to face shots, untracked lines, and rapidly accumulating powder.  Over the course of the day at least another 8 inches came down (free refills!) and the wind meant that it was piling even higher in certain aspects.  Greely had near white out conditions but was DEEP.  Supreme stayed shut, but everything off of the front side was skiing really well.  High Boy, Eagle’s Nest, High Nowhere were all unbelievable.  Entrances were predictably sketchy, but once in every chute and tree line was holding 2 feet by the end of the day.  Top 10 day on the slopes, finished off with beers at the Attic Bar (if you have to ask…).

My buddies grabbed the first flight back Monday morning to get to work – I stayed for more time in the White Room.  Overnight another foot dropped, and it continued to come down throughout most of Monday (the official storm total was 43”).  Even better, they opened Supreme, which until then had been shut for the entire storm.  There were so few people there that I could pick out my tracks from the chair each time up.  At one point I got out over my tips and cartwheeled without ever hitting base – all pow.  You could get faceshots on every turn, or open it up and air it out off of the many little bumps and buried terrain.  Top 5 day on the slopes, follow by beers on the United flight home.

With much of the country dry again this week I’ve been planning my next “emergency trip” somewhere.  Whistler anyone?

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