Thursday, February 27, 2014

Alta, UT: 02/21/2014

Skiing the East Greely bowl at Alta, 02/21/2014.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

I enjoyed Alta so much on Day 1 that I decided to return there for Day 2 to take care of unfinished business. Snowbird can wait.

Even though we woke to clear blue skies and the snow had stopped almost 24 hours earlier, terrain closures yesterday ensured that we’d find more powder today. Once again first chair was delayed until 9:15 for ski patrol and avi control, maybe that’s just business as usual at Alta?

View from the condo: a bluebird morning

Earn-your-turns tracks across from our condo

Don't hesitate, jump in!

Untracked powder goes quick, at least the obvious lines, and lacking a specific strategy we just jumped in wherever it looked good for the first run or two. A half dozen tracks above us caught my eye, and a short climb and traverse after our next ride up the Sugarloaf lift brought me to the top of this nice looking line:

A half dozen tracks

Traverse to the goods

Another skier dropping in

Of course by the time I got there six tracks had become two dozen, but no matter. I’m happy to ski tracked up powder on a beautiful line like that.

Does skiing get any more beautiful than this?

My tracks are up there, somewhere

East Greely above the Sugarloaf lift

One traverse leads to another, and I heard the chutes and steeps of East Greely (the backside of the High T – Rustler ridge) calling my name. I told the rest of the guys I’d meet them at lunch, and spent the rest of the morning making laps out the climbing traverse that leads out from the top of the Collins lift.

Sugarloaf's Mineral Basin from the top of Alta's Sugarloaf lift

View from the top of Sugarloaf

Start of the traverse out to East Greely

Avalanche control on East Greely

At the end of the traverse there's a corkscrew notch that marks the entrance to the East Greely bowl. It’s an exposed feature that looks intimidating, but is actually easy to ski. Beyond the notch, you can take any descent line: they’re all steep and they’re all good.

Taking the inside line through the corkscrew notch

Outside line through the corkscrew

East Greely's steep lines beyond the corkscrew notch

A few of East Greely's chutes

On my second lap, I stopped partway down to take some photos of other skiers. One guy stopped nearby, and I told him I might have some decent shots of him if he wanted to give me his email address. We were both loving the snow and terrain so much that we decided to ski another lap together. He took the camera on that lap, so now I’ve got pretty much the only photos from this winter of me skiing. If you read this Paul, I hope the rest of your trip was as good as those runs.

The next bunch of photos are all of skiers on East Greely's terrain. The last one is of me (as is the photo at the top of this post).

As great as the morning was, there was still more great skiing after lunch. One highlight: following the trees down from the top of the Collins lift. Even though they’d been skied all day, snow kept blowing in, buffing and re-filling the tracks, so every run (we did three) felt like the first.

Looking up at East Greely from the Sugarloaf chair

Collins trees: wind-buffed refills on each run

To close out the day, I picked out another line to ski back to the condo. The Keyhole gate at the top of the Wildcat lift provides access to steep trees that lead back to Snowbird. Just like day 1, I hugged the Snowbird – Alta boundary to ski my way back home.

Keyhole gate to Snowbird and back to our condo

I’m sure I barely scratched the surface of all that Alta offers, but after two bell-to-bell days I felt like I had at least given it a fair sampling. Time to move on to Snowbird for Day 3.

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