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Thread: the greatest day ... ever

  1. #1

    the greatest day ... ever

    tell us your story of the greatest day of skiing/snowboarding you've ever had
    __________________________________________________ _________________

    as i was working on the alta snow totals, i thought back to what i still consider to be the greatest day of skiing i have ever had. everything was just right that day. so, as i was reminiscing i thought i would share a report of that time. everyone has a greatest day for different reasons. let's hear about yours and what made it so great

    quite possibly the greatest day skiing i have ever experienced was at alta on feb. 26, 1998.

    feb 24 ~ it began on mardi gras. alta was socked in and it was dumping. driving up the canyon, it was raining through tanners flat ...ah, it was gonna be wet snow. i was in line at 8:25am, ready to go, but alta wouldn't open until 9:45am or 10am. they kept bombing and bombing ... it sounded like a war zone ... meanwhile someone played groovin' melodies on a harmonica. folks passes around beaded necklaces and shot the shit ... patiently waiting for a great day. it'd already snowed 17" the night before and it kept going. finally alta opened ... it was thicker snow than one would like, but it was good and folks skied with large grins and a spring in their step.

    as i came down the canyon, i noticed it was now snowing in the valley and there was already 6" on the salt lake benches by the time i had returned home. now what followed was stunningly impressive. it dumped and dumped and dumped.

    feb 25~ by later in the day on the benches near the university of utah, i measured (and shoveled) 40 inches of snow which fell in roughly 36 hours. the lake effect had kicked in big time ... leaving an impressive 69 inches on the bountiful benches during the same period of time. little cottonwood was closed for the day, and i had class at the U. i had an 8am class and walked to school, in my gaiters, in snow LITERALLY up to my crotch ... wild stuff. stunningly, they didn't close the U until 10:30 am

    although little cottonwood was closed, they did open the lower part of the mountain, for the alta folk. fortunately much remained closed, and the wonderously light lake effect snow would pile and pile up, for what would be a phenomenal day.

    feb 26~ i woke up superearly, got in my car and raced up the canyon ... amazingly, the canyon was open!! i pulled into an almost empty parking lot and got in line at 7:45 am. i had 3rd chair on wildcat. i hung out and shot the shit with the usual suspects on the powder dayz. at this point 17" on monday night, 22" into tues night, 20" into wed night, had us sitting pretty with 59" of new snow, and 42" of unskied snow at midmountain on much of the mountain which had been closed ... and it would snow another 17" during the day.

    it's that special density gradient which makes the best utah snow ... the light fluffy cold smoke from the lake effect sitting on top of the denser mardi gras snow ... making the most perfect bottomless powder one could hope for ... and i had 3rd chair.

    there aren't words i can form to express the feeling of the first 5 untracked runs i experienced that morning ... but the first 4 runs on germania had no wait in line ... i ran laps on jakes and annies, where no one was skiing, with a straightline of consistent steeps down to germ, for a quick ride back up ... the first turn was crust? could it be crust? the second turn i disappeared into the snow ... the most perfect snow ... the snow had settled down the slope, but was amazingly stable. each lap was literally bottomless, skiing an almost continuous faceshot with snow blowing well overhead, hoping for life that i wouldn't run into anyone ... i certainly wouldn't be able to see them. although i was mostly submerged in the snow, with the steepness of the slope, the snow had no drag and was splendidly effortless. by the end of the 4th run on germania (oh ... good ol' germania), the lines had grown some ... BUT there was a reassuring note on the board, that the canyon was now closed for avalanche control, and more folks would be stopped for some time

    the day was pure bliss ... but i had a nagging duty to return to the valley to finish something i needed to do. i kept pushing the time ... "hell, i can't leave," i thought to myself. finally at 2:30pm, the snow was down to powder as good as on a 2 foot day (oh darn), and i decided i needed to go. put my gear in the car and was about to exit the parking lot and drive up the hill, when an woman came running up waving her arms ... you can't leave!! there was an avalanche at tanners. l found out later that it spanned 300 yards wide along the road!! well, hmm, guess i just need to keep skiing

    kept charging and charging ... the gods were on my side and guided me to where i needed to be, back enjoying the endless powder which just kept going and going, as it kept snowing and snowing. it seemed impossible to ski this stuff out!!! at one point, i noticed on the board at germania it said germania would be open till 5pm, 30 minutes longer than normal!!! no doubt to keep people skiing rather than drinking, while they cleared the canyon. reaching the top of the second to last liftride, the clouds started thinning out a tiny bit ... i charged down and caught the 4:58pm chair up germ.

    reaching the top of germania this time was simply magical. a plane of soft fluffy clouds sat right under the top of the lift. the sky was open but misty with wisps of clouds gracing the sky. baldy, sugarloaf, devil's castle, and superior were bursting out of the cloudy sea, enshrouded with hanging swaths of clouds. to the west hung the glorious sun, motionless ... sitting upon the sea of clouds, igniting it with a soft yellow-orange glow, illuminating the falling snowflakes that sparkled with just about any color you can imagine.

    it was insanely magnificent

    i planned to make this last run last as long as i could. i hiked every ridge and every point on rustler mountain that i could. caught some ski patrollers at the gate to high notch and yellow trail. they were grinning at the magical scene and commented "see what you would have missed, had we not kept this open?" i skied a shot down upper sunspot, traversed over and hiked up to high greely. skied a shot over there, then gravity traversed, then another short shot in greely bowl. finally a hike up to highboy, the top of high rustler, to sit perched on the promontory, gazing down the final 1300 vertical foot descent to the base. i wasn't ready to go just yet. the golden sky was starting to pinken, and a few of us were trying to hold on to the moment as long as possible ... this phenomenal day. soon the ski patrol came and told us they needed to close the mountain ... it was 5:40pm. okay. i finished the day with my usual high rustler, nonstop from top to bottom ... and i was completely content ... i didn't care if i skied another day that year ... this was it.

    when i got down i found some friends at the bar and found out that the canyon would reopen at 6:45pm ... at least i could get home. the goldminer's parking lot seemed it was the last allowed to leave ... and made my way back home by 10:35 pm.

    a guy i know who's worked up there for 30 years, placed it somewhere in his top 10 ... and the snow total from monday night till thursday night came out at 76" mid mountain ... what a day

    growing up along the wasatch front spoils you tremendously ... you expect that this is the way life should be.

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  3. #2
    My best skiing was in 98 too. I was working construction back in those days and going to school. I was working on the Rice Eccles Stadium renovation up at the U. We got snowed out 3 different days in March and we headed straight for the lifts. We were the first ones up on the lift those days at Alta. It was waist deep fresh powder and we were the first to make some turns. What a GREAT day of skiing!!!

    Good ole stadium

  4. #3
    One of mine was in the early 80's, Bridger Bowl, Montana. Was super cold, but, for some reason it had snowed a TON. The infamous cold smoke.

    Run down the North Bowl. Seemed like the snow was five feet deep just standing still in it. Was nice that I'd been skipping class a bunch and was pretty familiar with the terrain, sight unseen as it was. True snokel skiing. Weight and unweight had no sensation at all. On the upstroke, still couldn't see and could barely breath. Feeling of total weightlessness. Straight down the fall line.

    I kept thinking, don't fall, just weight transition, hip and knee angulate, carry the lunch tray down the slope, keep the penny against my shin. Was an out of body experience. Recall skiing the North Bowl in one shot, getting to the bottom, totally out of breath not from the effort, because there wasn't any, but because I couldn't breath for the light fluff in the air, and, that I'd been screaming my head off with every turn.

    Strange sensation, standing in snow so deep and light that if you coughed, you could move several cubic meters of it with no effort.

    Some of us joked that we could "see God with every turn". Was heavenly.

    Years later, I'm chattin' with a guy I work with, and we're talking skiing Bridger, and beers at the "dog", and school (we both went to MSU). I mention that powder day, and, he instantly remembers the same.

    Always wanted that Bridger ski poster, "ski the cold smoke"....

    Truely legendary day. Has become the benchmark, maybe never to be realized again.... So effortless, I think I could have skied that run forever...


    -Brian in SLC (but FROM Montana)

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