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Author Topic: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013  (Read 6778 times)
Tommy T
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« Reply #60 on: March 08, 2013, 10:38:46 AM »

Takin' a second day in a row off because transitional weather is making a day in the mountains into a pain in the butt (literally -- wet bottom from sitting on wet chair lifts all day while a little bit of wet snow messes up the googles). Today is going to be another 35 degree, inch and a half of snow under cloudy skies, day with gusty and swirly winds.

Although we have had, and expect to keep getting, enough snow to keep the surfaces interesting, especially in the places most people don't go, it has been a few weeks of gloomy, wettish weather and my day and vert numbers are well down from my averages.  In fact the whole season has been sort of one great week followed by 10 days of decline -- I love great days and can find things to ride on the inbetween ones and can dig SLC on the bad ones.  My music performance outlets are placing considerable demands on my ability on trumpet and having a couple of hours of practice time is proving to be a good thing. 

(Are any of my readers brass players?  If so you'll understand this:  In the Murray band, they stuck me on the first trumpet part and gave me a solo for the first concert.  It went well; I was pleased and so was the band.  Then out comes the music for the second concert:  An extended concert march that requires 20 D's above high C and 2 E's above that!  And, a transcription of a Shostakovich number that goes above the top of the staff 47 times and requires actually playing up there, not just tag endings and accented spikes. In the pit for Music Man, the lead trumpet line gets up to an F above high C and most musicals are based on the big band styles of Basie, Ellington, the Dorseys and the like and are just in general pretty demanding.  Fortunately, I'm paired with a good player and we switch of and on between lead and support parts so we can both make it to the end.  Our real challenge comes on the last Sunday of the month, when we'll play a matinee and and evening performance -- that's a four hour gig playing with full concentration and considerable technical challenge.)

OH!! HOW I LOVE THIS LIFE!!!!

I ride on the good days; dig the City on the off days.  Play my horn with good musicians in challenging venues.  Eat good food, sometimes exotic food, and drink new beers weekly, sometimes good beers.

I keep thinking how lucky we are not to be spending this kind of a winter in, oh say, Fernie, BC, or Bethel, ME.  I've been to both towns and I gotta say, I wouldn't want to just hangout very many winter days in a row in either one.

Tommy T.
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« Reply #61 on: March 08, 2013, 02:55:50 PM »

On a break in my practice routine, I merged two angles from the summit cam on Mt Baldy.  This is as of about 12:25pm on Friday, March 8th and is exactly why I am home practicing my trumpet instead of riding in the chutes at the top of the Peruvian.



That's the top station for the Mineral Basin lift on the left and the restrooms/Ski Patrol building on the right.  This cam is located on the tram dock and is automated to take a series of angles about every 15 minutes.

Tommy T.

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« Reply #62 on: March 10, 2013, 06:46:34 PM »

East of Eden

On the day that Surf88 posts about his sister from Utah visiting New England, My Son and his wife and two boys join us for a week of skiing and we finally made it up to Powder Mountain, just East of Eden, Utah, near Ogden, North of Salt Lake City.

Item 1:  The Powder Mountain is an isolated peak north of the Wasatch.  As an isolated peak, the summit offers a true 360 degree view of Northern Utah.  This is one of the most beautiful settings for a ski area I've ever seen.

Item 2:  This is an up-side-down mountain with parking half-way up and at the true top!  Keep an eye on your watch and don't miss the last chair! Also, hope against wind closings and electric failures.

 Item 3:  The nature of the terrain results in no tight tree areas.  All of the trees are either sparse evergreen stands or open aspen woods.  Literally, except for a few rock zones, you can ski or ride every inch of the area.

Item 4:  A lot of green and blue groomers and all of them that we saw were exquisitely groomed -- a few inches of recent snow and small crowds in a somewhat difficult to reach locale must have helped, but in any case it is nice to have steep blues that still feel like snow and not like glacial ice flows.

Item 5:  The off-piste reached by lift and/or modest hikes was completely skiable, pretty forgiving, not much in the expert/none in the extreme categories and tended to return the adventurer to groomers and lifts rather than to the next canyon over.

Item 6:  The stats: (a) 2800 acres of lift served terrain, plus another 5,900 acres dedicated to snow-cat skiing, powder-cat ridge tours, and other commercial and motorized operations.  (Killington, as a standard, is around 575 acres);

          (b)  over 2500 feet vertical drop with summit around 9425 feet ASL;

          (c)  25% Green; 40% Blue and 35% "Advanced" with nothing labeled Double Black, but loads of off piste in the double blue and black categories and just a touch of off-piste double black -- mostly short drops in scattered and rare cliff bands.

Item 7:  Not a lot of variety.  A nice place to visit for a day or a week-end, but I believe that a dedicated powder buster could pretty much wring it out in a week.  Not a lot of stores, cafes, lodging or other amenities without going back into Ogden.  (An interesting looking saloon in Eden, but the time of day was wrong and we were tired and had an hour and a half drive back home.)

Conclusions:  Nice enough to be on everybody's "should ski" list.  Limited enough to not be a likely 10 day vacation spot.  Pretty close to SnowBasin and day-tripable to or from the Park City/Cottonwood Canyons complex.  An interesting possibility for a family with all abilities that is willing to split up and each do their own thing.

Footnote:  My son had done this before but after 27 years of boarding getting up the hill on everything from my own legs to rope tows, J- and T-bars, slow single chairs, high speed-quads and six-packs, gondolas and trams, today was my first experience at using a Poma surface tow when riding a board;  17 years and the same for my daughter-in-law;  oldest grandson -- 10 years on board and the same story.  NOBODY FELL!  The tow is the highest lift access to some of the best off-piste and it isn't terribly steep.  Did it twice -- Piece of cake.

Tommy T.



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« Reply #63 on: March 12, 2013, 12:29:44 AM »

Monday, March 11, 2013, was pretty day with strong winds.  I climbed about 300 feet above the groomers at Canyons to a high, inbounds summit known as Mt. Murdock, elevation around 9357 feet ASL.  Only problem was with the wind which, at the summit hour was a steady 50 mph with gusts to above 70. The side that I expect to descend is leward and only the last 100 feet on ridge up to the summit was badly exposed.



So the question automatically comes up:  "Who took the picture and why are you carrying two boards?"

The answer is pretty simple:  "My daughter-in-law took the picture and I carried her board because she's only 3 days up from virtually sea level at home in Houston."  Besides she's smaller than me and in those winds with a board as a sail, she might have just blown away.



We laid in about 300 vertical feet of freshies right along the area boundary, skimming back and forth to avoid seven other sets of tracks, and then made the steep descent a couple of hundred feet down the face with traverses to handle a wind crust that demanded more attention to speed control than to powder fun.

Her name is Chelsea and 18 years ago I gave her a snowboard as her wedding present and her welcome to my family.  I recommend that everyone get a daughter-in-law like this one. 

Tommy T.

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« Reply #64 on: March 12, 2013, 12:35:22 PM »

Quote
So the question automatically comes up:  "Who took the picture and why are you carrying two boards?"

The answer is pretty simple:  "My daughter-in-law took the picture and I carried her board because she's only 3 days up from virtually sea level at home in Houston."  Besides she's smaller than me and in those winds with a board as a sail, she might have just blown away
On my Backcountry Trip Saturdaywith my sister that lives in Provo I ended up carrying her board as well as mine for both ascents.  She didnt have an elevation excuse.
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« Reply #65 on: March 20, 2013, 12:35:22 PM »

We've a two part weather system that has just arrived this morning -- mountain cams show Alta and S'Bd as shut down althougth, as usual, their web pages say everything is open, "weather and conditions permitting."  Canyons is running the lifts that show in their cams, but few, few indeed are boarding the lifts.  Today's part of the weather system is wet and windy -- Snow Basin is showing a gust of 369 mph: I'm assuming that number is an error.  Most high altitude stations are showing 35 to 40 with gusts to 60.  The system should lay down a packable base of 5 to 8 inches.  Then, starting tomorrow night, part two comes in with 10 to 18 inches (depending mainly on altitude) of more typical Wasatch snow and we are ready for Spring. 

Our daughter and three of the grand-daughters are coming out for 9 days arriving on the 29th.  I expect they are going to have very good conditions to choose from, Provo to Logan.

(Aside:  life goes on off the mountain.  I've been retained for a paid gig at a Luthern Church providing trumpet music for Easter.   I believe that, over the full span of my life, I've probably just broken even financially with my trumpet playing.  Generally, I get some compensation from some trumpet performance related source every year (sometimes gas money; sometimes a nice meal; sometimes cash) so I can keep claiming that I am a "pro" in that limited sense that once in a while I get paid to play.)

Tommy T.
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« Reply #66 on: March 27, 2013, 02:29:29 PM »

Yesterday and today have been full-on Spring Skiing and it has been just absolutely great.  Lots of snow left -- S'Brd is reporting a 95" base and Canyons is showing 77".  Beautiful blue skys with puffy cumulus clouds making dramatic shadow/snow contrasts on the big peaks.  The highest ski area reports (9,000 to 11,000 feet ASL) are not reporting above freezing temps yet.  The bases (6,000 to 8,000 feet ASL) are still keeping freezing temps overnight but are getting up as high as the mid-40's in the hot parts of the days.  So the routine is be at the area at 9am; warm-up on a favorite, low altitude groomer before it gets soggy; move up to mid-mountain by 10am for some bowls or trees; and then go to the summit for open terrain from 11 to 1.   Then go have a nice lunch and a good beer and do it again tomorrow.

I hope you all appreciate that this is a tough life that requires careful timing and extensive planning!

(My recording Suunto X-6 altimeter ran for 8 years but it seems to have lost the seal on its pressure chamber and has been retired.  After one day with a HighGear replacement, that particular piece of junk was returned to REI for exchange on a Suunto Core which is pretty much the new version of my old one. (REI is very good about that sort of thing -- no questions asked -- full refund against the new Suunto.)  Today, was the Core's first field test and comparing topo's, published lift vertical rise and the Core's report of total ascent and descent numbers, I estimate it's error to be right at 1%.  It actually showed a 1.2% maximum deviation but it also reported a change in altitude at my car (it had moved down hill a few feet -- in fact, my house seems to be about 10 feet lower than it was the morning), which would be caused by a change in the barometric pressure due to general weather system developments.  The Core logs altitude as of each preset period, which can be set for as frequently as once every second to once every hour (maybe more).  I was recording once every 30 seconds which avoids errors at the top of lifts and that sort of thing that could result from a longer period-- the HighGear model was present for once every ten minutes and that could loose track of an entire 9 minute, 3000 foot ride on the tram. The graph produced and displayed by the Core, on the basis of today's data, actually shows the two traverses that I made around the top of Little Cloud getting over to the good stuff high in the Gad Valley.  Interestingly, the Core's deviation averaged against the other sources is less than the deviation between Google Earth and the published lift verticals.)

Tommy T.
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« Reply #67 on: March 29, 2013, 04:18:19 PM »

March 29, 2013 -- a little warmer but the Central Wasatch areas continue to hold up pretty well. 

This is a three shot pan of the upper elevations of the Canyons Ski Resort, taken this morning from near the top station on the Super Condor Lift.  This camera location is the highest lift served point on the skier's extreme left side of the area.  Iron Mountain is the highest lift served point on the skier's extreme right side.  9990 is the highest lift served point overall and a 150 foot hike above it is the highest point on the ridge that is within the area boundary. 



9900 is approximately due South of the Super Condor top station.  The image is mainly showing Western exposures.  The area around the camera location is on the Eastern exposure.  The difference in snow coverage is astonishing.  East facing slopes are mostly bare; West facing slopes have good coverage.  West facing trees above 8000 feet (more or less) are actually in good shape.

Tommy T.


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« Reply #68 on: April 01, 2013, 09:32:54 AM »

Well, it's April and the weather just went April Fool's on me.  Everythng was indicating a half day of decent Spring conditions and then some weather coming in with a rain snow line around 8000 feet.  I got up early and was planning to be in line at 9am, but while putting my freshly waxed and flouride coated board into the van at 8am, it started raining.  Rain in the city was expected but it was expected for about 1pm.

There are some "real time" weather stations around the Wasatch so I did some checks and sure enough -- the Park City municipal golf course automated weather station was showing 100% humidity and 35 degrees.  The Wasatch areas do not report up to the minute conditions but the web cam showing Chickadee at Snowbird was water streaked and the Hidden Peak Cam showed dark rain clouds. The web cam at the base at Canyons showed a single family hunched over and hurrying across the plaza -- probably getting rained on.

"On The Road" has just openned at the Salt Lake City Film Society's cinema.  That book was pretty significant in my early misdirection toward a career in jazz. On the road with girls and grass sounded pretty good the way Kerouac told it.   I suspect that is where Linda and I will be this afternoon (the cinema, not the girls and grass bit).

(Speaking of which . . . over the summer one of "those places" surreptitiously appeared . . . if you come across an unexplained photo of a wooded ridge, think 9:00 o'clock, just out of sight in the trees.)

Tommy T.
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« Reply #69 on: April 02, 2013, 05:03:13 PM »

Incredible morning at Canyons!

The central Wasatch, from Alta/Snowbird to Park City/Canyons got 12 or 13 inches overnight, AFTER the p.m. groom.  I was in line when the lifts openned at 9am and about 6 skiers and boarders raced to the top.  The blue groomer that connects to the area I was after was shin high freshies with two tracks in front of me.  I was third or fourth up Super Condor and did three runs there, one on- and two off-piste without crossing a track except at the tops and bottoms.  (Last run there had a minor miscalculation and I bottomed out in a gully with open water.  I found a spot where a skier had tested (with success) a very dubious looking snow bridge and  I crossed to face a 25 foot ascent in knee deep snow to a groomed trail.  My favorite on-mountain lodge is closed for the season now, but staff was there cleaning up and they had the coffee pot full.  Staff knows me and coffee was offerred and accepted.

I LOVE IT -- WHAT A GREAT DAY OF SPRING SKIING.

By Noon, the thaw line was up to 9000 feet, clouds were coming down making visibility flat, and I was getting tired.

Got home in time to take Linda to lunch at one of our favorite bakery/brew pub combos.  Now she's off to the library and I am within about 4 minutes of a long nap.

Tommy T.

(When we started these winter-long odyseys almost a decade ago, we agreed that we would go to good ski regions but we would select regions which might be an ultimate retirement home -- thus no visits to Crested Butte with Gunison, CO, as the "big town" or to Fernie, B.C., with one coffee shop, no movie house and hours to the nearest airport.  You all know that this is the first time that we have repeated -- Linda has been looking at houses for sale in the SLC area!  None of the individual peaks here are among my top 3, but the combination of 4 peaks in the top dozen, plus the City and the handy national service airport are weighing heavily in the balance, and my acceptance in the local amateur music community frankly ranks right along with snowboarding.  There are still some issues -- it's not a done thing -- but it's the first time we've taken a really serious look.)
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« Reply #70 on: April 04, 2013, 04:51:38 PM »

April 4, 2013.  Our youngest granddaughter, Noora, is visiting and Spring skiing in the Wasatch is giving a lesson in how sweet Spring in the mountains can be.

This is Noora, early in the morning with long shadows in Mineral Basin at Snowbird, and all the crowds gone to South Padre Island and Pensecola Beach for school vacation:



Linda and Noora are pretty compatible in terms of interests in and ability on snow.  This is high on the North side of MB -- georgeous day and nice snow:



Coming down out of Powder Paradise, this is an example of the crowds with which we had to deal:



The Little Cloud side was about the same:  Noora just above top station on the new Little Cloud high-speed quad, with Road to Provo in the background:



A shot of Noora and me and a shot of Linda and Noora -- just below the top station for the tram:





(And, just by accident, a great view of American Fork Twin Peaks and the Pipeline Gully.)

I was really pleased that somebody else has noticed that Regulator is just turning into a seriously inclined bowling alley.  This sign was posted right at the Tram unloading dock where every skier and rider heading to the "Regulator to the left; Chip's to the right; Great Scott straight ahead" junction has to see it!



All is well with the ski and board bums.  Sometimes life is just too good to say much else.  Today's one of those days.

Tommy T.
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« Reply #71 on: April 06, 2013, 05:20:34 PM »

So...

Noora asked to board today. She's 14 and has been skiing since age 2 (at Park City for her first time on snow -- Cannon Mt. at 4 for her first real skiing).  She's never tried to board before.  She's a pretty good skier, on- and off-piste, and her comfort level with new challenges is pretty high.

We went to Canyons while the other two girls (my wife and my daughter) went for a swim and a massage. We hit the snow at 9am and after some quick intro to shuffling on one foot, hockey stops, posture and the theory of using the edges to turn we were riding the lift up and and the solid green level trail, High Meadows, down up above 8000 feet ASL where the snow on the groomer was corn and sky was blue.  Before we stopped for lunch, she could demonstrate falling leaf turns, garlands regular and fakey, C turns, and then she linked 5 consecutive C turns into a  2.5 S. 

For our last run, she was turning on the sides of the little 2 foot high "half-pipe" that is part of the collection of small features on the side of High Meadows that is there especially to let the kids show off their newly minted skills.

This is her last day out here this season -- if I could have her for one more good day, I'd have her turning on bumped-up Blues. 

Tommy T.

It's definitely Spring -- a bunch of shorts on the hill today!

 
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« Reply #72 on: April 07, 2013, 02:29:20 PM »

Ah, Angie did get more than just 16 pictures of my birthday cake.  She just sent some shots from Sundance:

Angie and I on the triple, taken by A's current partner, Paul, who is wearing an orange parka and is reflected in the goggles:



This is from a bit over half-way up Sundance, looking in a westerly direction from the mid-point on Ray's Lift.  That's my wife standing in the green jacket.  In the top left corner, you can see just a bit of the stratigraphy on Timpanogos.



The area was named "Sundance" by Redford after having starred in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  (The town of Sundance, from which Harry Alonzo Longabaugh took his nick-name, was actually in Wyoming.)  This shot into the Sun on a day that went pretty cloudy pretty quickly gives the name another meaning.  (That's me with the board on the next chair up the hill.)



Tommy T.

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« Reply #73 on: April 07, 2013, 03:00:33 PM »

We are coming to the end of the ski resorts' seasons in the Wasatch (about 1/2 are closing today or tomorrow, about 1/2 next week-end and only an elite couple, including S'Brd, are continuing into May) and the weather forecasts for snow are more and more important to my daily planning.

A storm system is approaching -- all reports agree. 

BUT, the models indicate that snow at the Alta Guard weather post between now (say about Noon on Sunday) and Noon on Tuesday (all of two days away) will be between 0.4 inches and 35.7 inches.  Both extremes (and several predictions inbetween) are based on standard, operational NWS models -- these aren't Junior High Science Class experiments.

In the words of a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah who does a daily blog on the local weather scene:

"So, the bottom line is that this forecast is pretty much a crap shoot, with a wide range of potential outcomes in the central Wasatch."


Tommy T.
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« Reply #74 on: April 10, 2013, 06:03:06 PM »

Following up on that crazy weather forecast:

It's Wednesday and the storm came and went.  This is a picture high on the slopes at Park City Ski Area at about 10am after 20 inches of new:



The really nice thing was that some of the trails that Linda likes a lot (wide, smooth Blues) got an evening groom yesterday and then another few inches overnight making for a wonderfully smooth and easy ride:



After a few hours riding the snow, I went in to get a Park City season pass for next year.  I've had Canyons as my home area for for two years in a row and until today I had not ridden at Park City in 12 years.  I've never spent any time exploring the hike-to ridge that wraps around the area to the skier's left of the Jupiter Bowl and that's where I'll be next winter.  Now, at a superb Wasatch area, I have an unrestricted 70+ pass, early season purchase and special discount for buying before the present season ends next week-end -- $250.00.  (The rest of you need to hurry and get old!)

Tommy T.

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