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Alta 12/1/20

ss20

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I spent 3 days in Jackson Hole and the skiing was fantastic by EC standards. I left at 2pm Monday bound for Sandy, UT and I was rolling through some of the most beautiful parts of rural Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah just as the sun was setting. Picturesque.

Today was the first time I skied Alta. Very small crowd today, as the locals are desperate for snow. It was cold, sunny, and fast in the AM. Classic Northeast dust-on-crust from a thick dusting the previous night. I, however, did not drive across the damn country to ski groomers all day. So I did one of the famous Alta traverses to the backside bowl, the only alpine terrain that was open. I don't know where it came from, or how it got there, but there was 3-5" of fresh snow over there, with plenty of unskied lines. Some of it was sunkissed but most of it was some of that Greatest Snow on Earth they talk about. It skied spectacular. Even with the traverse/hike in, and the traverse/transfer tow out I had a lot of fun lapping that 5ish times on the day. On my last run I hit the bottom and absolutely destroyed one of my skis....multiple core shots but edges are all in-tact. The local shop is cutting me a bit of a break and not counting all the damage (we joked I was getting the "bulk discount"). I will say, those are my Fischer Pro MTN 95 skis that I've had for three seasons now and this is the first coreshot I've gotten- those things are indestructible. Meanwhile my Dynastar skis are one year older, have less days that the Fischer's, and started off as my skinny/groomer ski before becoming my rock skis...those things have been base welded multiple times, P-tex galore, and a shop at Killington told me they got one more base grind in them then there'll be nothing left to grind. Anyway, that's a topic for another day.

I also skied a lot of the Wildcat terrain. Coverage was decent up top but the final ridgeline where it drops off was pretty shot. That area must be a TON of fun when there's 6 more feet of snow on the ground. I really enjoyed it, it was just great technical Northeast skiing- hardpack, soft snow spots, and plenty of debris. But without the ice falls, and impenetrable tree lines...if I got to something I didn't want to ski, traverse 100 feet and there's a new area that's more skiable.

Other random impressions- They had 3 fan guns for the lower mountain chutes that go to the base area. This is legit expert terrain. They just park a fan gun at the top, point it down the hill, and let it run. I wish places like Killington did this on something like Vertigo....if you're not gonna blow the whole thing, just point a snowgun from the top with long-range throw and let it run for a few days. The skiers will spread it out and it'll develop a decent base. The transfer tow is fun, trying to find the best way to hold on. I just hold on but people would use it for a speed boost, ski around me, then grab on for a second and use it for a speed boost again. I didn't get it given the less-than-stellar conditions but if you want to use more energy shaving 10 seconds off the transfer between base area, go right around me. Lots of advanced snowmaking. Tower guns with onboard compressors, top-of-the-line fan guns, tower fan guns, even weather stations on traditional "stick" snowguns that can adjust air/water ratios to the weather automatically.

Sandy/SLC suburbs is my primary location of potential move-to areas. The area is A LOT more developed than I thought- plenty of city traffic, big box stores, and even some moderate 4-6 story office buildings scattered about. And it's never-ending. Kinda reminded me of western Long Island towards the City, just never-ending suburban sprawl. That said, I bought $37 worth of groceries at Target which would've cost me $50-$55 at home in CT. And apartments are cheaper here, too. Haven't noticed a "Mormon vibe" yet through my minimal interactions with the local populace.

Brighton tomorrow, maybe a day off Thursday, then I'm thinking Alta again on Friday and Snowbird Saturday. Then since the weather here is shitting the bed I'm driving another 12 hours to Crystal in the PNW as they already have 80% of their terrain open with more storms coming early next week. Then Silver Mountain, ID perhaps and Big Sky Montana before wrapping up this crazy three week road trip!

Locals were complaining about icy groomers....I was chopping up the 3-5" of powder in their bowls for them
1606874711434.png


This was just a stupid-steep line. I've never skied anything this steep. Had a bit of trouble even with the good conditions. I kept getting tripped up with the tails of my skis hitting the mountain as I was trying to turn due to the steepness...never had that happen to me before.
1606874823058.png

A different chute that maxed out my comfort zone. See the skier up top for reference.
1606875035594.png
 

jimk

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Thanks for sharing more about your trip. I'd like to hear how the parking process works for you when you visit Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude.

There are many good apts in SLC and this is not exactly Sandy, but here is one apt complex I can recommend as super convenient for skiing BCC and LCC. It's not real fancy, but it's well run, grounds are clean, in a safe part of town, and fairly affordable for the location in Cottonwood Heights. : https://www.highlandpointeapts.com/

You will notice that in general, the further west you go across the Salt Lake Valley (i.e. away from the mtns and ski areas) the cheaper houses and apts get, but also many neighborhoods get crummier, more industrial, and summer temps a little hotter because you are getting into the desert. The fact is, people like living in the foothills and housing is more expensive there because of that.

FYI, I am used to terrible Wash DC rush hour traffic and find traffic in SLC to be a piece of cake. The one road that gets some heavy commuter traffic is Interstate 15, esp from downtown towards the south to Sandy, Draper, Lehi, Orem, etc. Even that road is not bad and keeps mostly moving at a decent 40+ mph at the height of morning rush. I find the grocery stores cheaper in Utah too, esp for produce. I am VERY familiar with the Lowes Hardware store in Sandy, visited it about 30 times in the first half of 2020 :)
 
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Edd

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Wow, I‘m not one to go west early season but feeling jealous that you’re able to hit so many areas right now. Please post pics of Crystal. Never skied it myself.
 

thetrailboss

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Looks good. Sorry to hear about the core shots.

I worked in Sandy for five years. It changed so much in that timeframe. It is, indeed, building up. The section along State Street is just crazy.

You'll find less off-trail options open at Brighton but it has been skiing nicely. If you are thinking of moving here, you should try to ski a "busy" weekend and see how you like (or dislike) it. In the last three years it has gotten really bad. The roads are often jammed and parking is a major issue. IKON't think of what changed.
 

ss20

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I'll be blunt...Brighton sucked today. Ice with a mix of rocks. Some loose piles but boilerplate underneath. They're making snow on Milly which makes zero sense to me as I don't see how much of their terrain will make it through the weekend with temps above freezing. They stopped grooming off the Snake lift because there's not enough snow to groom.

Also, apparently they have a Wednesday ticket deal I did not know about. It was packed. Long lines, poor skiing. I did 10-1:45 then called it. Got my northeast in November fix for the year hahaha. VERY rowdy crowd. Tons of beer being drank on lines for the lifts. I was getting cut in line. However the several people I talked to on the lift were all very nice. Also, people couldn't ski to save their lives. People down EVERYWHERE. I can say with CERTANTY I made the best carved turns out of anyone all day.

The terrain seems somewhat mellow, compared to what I was skiing at Alta. Also tighter trees. The only alpine terrain I can really identify is a bowl to the lookers left of Milly Express and that looks like it need 8 feet to be comfortably skiable.

Also, question- I see it's supposed to be 35ish degrees Saturday and Sunday. The sun angle this time of year is very weak but does the higher elevation counteract that? Essentially...will anything soften up?
 

thetrailboss

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I'll be blunt...Brighton sucked today. Ice with a mix of rocks. Some loose piles but boilerplate underneath. They're making snow on Milly which makes zero sense to me as I don't see how much of their terrain will make it through the weekend with temps above freezing. They stopped grooming off the Snake lift because there's not enough snow to groom.

Also, apparently they have a Wednesday ticket deal I did not know about. It was packed. Long lines, poor skiing. I did 10-1:45 then called it. Got my northeast in November fix for the year hahaha. VERY rowdy crowd. Tons of beer being drank on lines for the lifts. I was getting cut in line. However the several people I talked to on the lift were all very nice. Also, people couldn't ski to save their lives. People down EVERYWHERE. I can say with CERTANTY I made the best carved turns out of anyone all day.

The terrain seems somewhat mellow, compared to what I was skiing at Alta. Also tighter trees. The only alpine terrain I can really identify is a bowl to the lookers left of Milly Express and that looks like it need 8 feet to be comfortably skiable.

Also, question- I see it's supposed to be 35ish degrees Saturday and Sunday. The sun angle this time of year is very weak but does the higher elevation counteract that? Essentially...will anything soften up?
So here is the deal. No new snow for at least another week. The conditions are only going to get progressively worse until then. Out here we need snow to refresh the conditions on the surface. The base always comes eventually. When we don’t get snow it gets tracked out very fast and the going gets really rough.

As for today, you’re right. This is a big promotion they run every December. Every local who doesn’t have a pass will show up for the cheap skiing. And if you think the crowds were a problem try coming up to one of the resorts on a busy weekend when there is snow.

As to the snow making on Millicent the thought process is to open up that lift and that terrain to spread people out. I don’t think that they have much if any snow making on Great Western. It also won’t really melt this weekend.
 

ss20

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Wow, I‘m not one to go west early season but feeling jealous that you’re able to hit so many areas right now. Please post pics of Crystal. Never skied it myself.

This was the only time I could really make it happen with work. I could've done the fly west, ski for a week, and fly back but that never appealed to me (at least for my first time). I'm so glad I'm doing it this way...three week road trip, never planning more than a few days in advance.

What's hard to believe for me is this is almost certainly the "worst" skiing I'll do this whole trip and other than today at Brighton my expectations have been shattered.

Very excited to ski Crystal with an upcoming storm cycle and the fact they're already 80% open. Could be some rain rather than snow down low but we'll see what happens.
 

thetrailboss

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This was the only time I could really make it happen with work. I could've done the fly west, ski for a week, and fly back but that never appealed to me (at least for my first time). I'm so glad I'm doing it this way...three week road trip, never planning more than a few days in advance.

What's hard to believe for me is this is almost certainly the "worst" skiing I'll do this whole trip and other than today at Brighton my expectations have been shattered.

Very excited to ski Crystal with an upcoming storm cycle and the fact they're already 80% open. Could be some rain rather than snow down low but we'll see what happens.
Yes, hopefully Crystal is in a better pattern. Certainly come back when the snow is better.
 
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