New year, new tricks, and a long overdue happy 2013 – the year in which I learned how to ski steep, off-trail powder in the pow paradise of the universe: Alta, Utah.
My friend Chris Peterson and I started off our powder hunt in neigboring Snowbird. I’d rented boots for this trip, and it took me more runs than I’d like to admit to acclimate to rentals, having taken a few tumbles on the steeper white stuff (though admittedly, my first run of the season is always somewhat shaky, and Snowbird is probably not the most ideal mountain to ‘warm up’ given the steepness of the terrain and the backcountry feel of the Mineral Basin bowl).
Snow started coming down consistently aprés-lunch, and soon afterwards we were greeted with mountaineering conditions @ 11,000 ft., with poor visibility, high winds, and lots of the fluffy stuff coming down fast. Most (sensibly) decided to pass on the backside of the mountain and ski on the groomed trails instead; we, of course, opted for the path of most resistance, tackling big white bowls picking up fresh powder at an impressive rate without hardly any depth perception at this point. It paid off; we had this mountain nearly all to ourselves, and that’s what we were here for.
Alta was a different beast. After another 9 inches fell overnight, we’d officially arrived in powder paradise. My thin tipped Dynastar skis were not prepared for the task, with far less surface area to work with than most. Oh well. I suppose I now had only my technical ski saavy to rely on (ha). Which is why I spent my afternoon enrolled in ‘jazz class’ (beyond the blues) @ Alta’s ski school and under the trusty wing of Mike, my ski instructor.
Threeish hours later, we’d learned all about stance, edging, pole plants, and hit some of the steepest, most technical off-trail powder havens on the mountain. Mission accomplished.
After graduating from blues to blacks, I rewarded myself like any good student would: with a world-class hot cocoa (with whip cream!)
Not a bad start to the year so far.