By Erme Catino
Maybe it was the late Thanksgiving, or perhaps it was the week and a half of high pressure. Either way the proper winter season seemed to have a sluggish start in Utah. Aside from early November powder turns along with some meadow skipping, the real deal Holyfield of powder shredding had yet to commence in Little Cottonwood Canyon. That all changed this week when Alta, Utah received 2 feet of powder, allowing the resort to open up the High-Traverse and Supreme Chair.
It was almost fate—rumors of a storm began a week before the 14th annual Powder Awards, held in Salt Lake City. It was perfect timing for winter to show itself. Arriving with a vengeance, the first storm dropped 15 inches to a relatively thin base as temps struggled to reach zero Fahrenheit as a high.
Crunching along the High-T in a freezing fog brought a smile to my face. Combine that sadistic notion with some sun and Alta's Supreme chair opening, and you have the makings for a great day.
"We had a little stretch where we had some warm temps." explains Joe Johnson of Alta Ski Area. "Then, right on cue, Ullr flipped the switch and winter came back in a serious way with cool temperatures and lots of great snow." And so it was. I arrived first thing Friday ready for some High-T hot laps, complete with Mexican tap dances over early season rock outcroppings, and looking forward to tapping Catherine's for the untouched bliss.
Knowing smooth surfaces, our crew floated through the pines trees and meadows off the Supreme chair, slashing the mini features along the way. It was cold, sunny, and finally powdery.
By Sunday morning, a nine-inch storm buried the snow plot, and Alta was straight chillin' in another powder day. The High-T was running surprisingly smooth given the base depth, and with each passing howl of wind and flurry of snow, things are beginning to fill in. This week, temperatures should rebound into the teens with additional snow showers in the forecast—setting the stage for a solid early season with holiday storms filtering into the Wasatch.