A Week of Ahhhs….

Big Cottonwood Canyon, January 24th, 2012

Although, we are not where we need to be, the canyons are looking a little more white and wintery than they have been the last couple of months. It has been a great week of skiing and I have been so busy making turns that I have all but, forgot about blogging about it.

If any of you have been looking at the photos from Solitude’s Facebook page, than you know that there has actually been some serious goods on the hill this past week. I have been promising Noah, all season, that I would pull him from school on the first big powder day and Tuesday definitely delivered his pink slip! Although, he had to get in a few hours of class in the morning, we still had plenty of time left to play. I knew driving up the canyon at 11:30 meant that most of the untouched powder would be gone but, I also knew that we wouldn’t be fighting over lines. The locals had obviously come out in full force that morning as I pulled into the parking lot and noticed the bumped out frontside of Solitude. However, as quickly as they had come, they had all but vacated the premises. Although, I was a little bummed at the obvious disregard to the late starters (me), I suppose it was just as well because it ended up being just us and the mountain. I love Solitude for that! I pulled right up to the front in typical Solitude fashion and we headed up towards Summit.

The sun was shining, the snow was sparkling and I was happy to find Headwall Forest empty of fellow skiers but, surprisingly, full of fresh, untracked Utah powder. You have to remember that this was the first time we have been able to ski anything but cruisers and bumps since last season and it was awesome! We lapped Headwall so many times that I believe the two of us may have shredded all the precious snow in there.

Noah "Getting Some" in Headwall Forest

Noah and I drooled over Honeycomb (which was closed) for a few minutes and wished that we could imprint ourselves onto her untouched slopes but we also understood and felt the danger of the unknown which was hidden beneath the heavy slabs of snow precariously sitting upon the steep canyon walls. With all the flakes that Utah has received over the last week or so, conditions, although so much better, are currently treacherous out-of-bounds. Visible slabs of cracked snowpack and the tell tale sign of slides are evident throughout the Wasatch and the surrounding terrain around Solitude is no exception. The patrol were out in full force, on Tuesday, training and working with their avalanche dogs and it was great to see them out there doing what they do to keep all of us safe.

Working Hard

I thought about them (patrol) as I stood on a ridge looking down into Milk Run early Saturday morning. There were tracks above me heading over towards Middle slope and possibly some tracks entering from the south side but, nothing from where I stood. Well, nothing other than the slide down the center of the run which undoubtedly was set by Solitude’s finest to stabilize the slope. I was tempted to just traverse in and head down but, I just couldn’t do it alone. I knew that the patrol wouldn’t have opened it if they didn’t feel it was safe but, I just had a nagging sensation in my gut to not go it solo. I stood there for a good ten minutes until two telemarkers pulled up next to me. “Looks a little sketchy” they said and I nodded but, I so wanted to hit it….we all did! I figured at least I had a chance of being uncovered with two big guys behind and carefully made my way over the ridge and down into the slide zone. At that point, I was a free bird and giddily bounced through the fluff and crud all the way down towards Summit. It was sweet and I was so grateful after such a lame start to the season to be skiing one of my favorite runs again! I was thankful to those who work their frozen fingers off, before any of us have even gotten out of bed, so that we can safely ski the amazing terrain that Solitude has to offer! Thank you, it was a wonderful day.

The last couple of days have been snowless but, no longer is dirt visible and the little rocks which tagged you on every run are all but gone, buried beneath the thick snow that finally came. The weather has been beautiful and mild and Solitude is empty once again from the onslaught of crowds which made their way up to the slopes over the weekend. This morning was quiet and calm and utterly relaxing as I played around the mountain with my little Issac and my husband, Matt. Isaac got in a good 3 1/2 hours of ski time before he had to head back down to the valley for kindergarten and officially end his ski weekend (I suppose his ski week is just beginning). I love these passing moments with my children that will be gone before I know it but, how fun to watch my 6 year old shred the bumps off Eagle or figure out how to turn on the steeps of Black Forest or scout out his favorite jumps for a little air time. He is gaining confidence and before long, he will far surpass his mother’s skills on the hill! Noah is just about there…Ahhhh!

Isaac Playing in Black Forest for the First Time!

The Eagle...Looking Pretty!

Bumps and Sun for Isaac

The Fat Flakes Fall

That’s more like it…
from the Solitude Facebook page

It’s hard to get more depressing than rain in January when you live in Utah. Adding insult to injury is that thousands are gathered here in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer (OR) show this week and the skies in the valley have been dumping nothing but 33°+ water droplets. For some attendees, this was their first taste of Utah’s winter. Our mountains should have been cutting a crisp white line across bluebird skies- instead they’ve been socked in gray while rivers of rainfall run through the downtown gutterways.

But that changed yesterday. I was buried in my smartphone’s calendar, busily trying to sort out my next appointment at OR when I quickly took a glance to establish my surroundings. A ceiling to floor window caught my eye, revealing the magic that had taken place: the 33°+ droplets had transformed to fat feather-like flakes drifting through the air. I stopped still and stared, forgetting my smartphone and appointments…

Read more at ginabegin.com

The Canyon Echoed With Joy!

The sheriff was at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon turning around cars so, I knew it was going to be big but, it was hard to grasp the concept of snow when rain had been pouring in torrents throughout the night and there was nothing but fog and water socking in the valley. My windshield wipers flicked back and forth as I headed up the canyon road and memories of my youth came rushing back with every bead of water that slid down the windshield. Rain usually accompanied every drive up to Crystal Mountain or White Pass in Washington only to finally change to snow about ten minutes from the resorts. I had grown up with this stuff but, was I ready to ski in poncho weather after 17 years of Utah fluff?

The fog and rain was thick as Noah, Isaac and I kept our sights on the digital temperature display that was gradually dropping from the 40’s down into the 30’s. About 8 miles up, the rain started turning into slush and then into giant wet flakes. By the time that we reached the Solitude parking lot we had hit the motherlode!

In celebration of the first “real” powder day, I let the boys skip DEVO. We came to play and we were going to play hard! Isaac and I headed up Powderhorn after he had a few minutes to figure out the heavy, powder that encircled his tiny body (relatively speaking) off of Moonbeam. Cool, wet flakes drizzled down our necks and my pants were already taking in moisture but there was white stuff all around!

Powderhorn has been a base weld trap for the past month or so and I was excited to finally get our relationship back on track. Of course, no lines and we slid right onto the icy, wet seat. I wondered for a moment at those silly ponchos that the Crystal Mountain ticket guys would give us with our passes and laughed at the thought of Utah locals doing such a thing. In retrospect maybe a garbage bag with a few holes punched through wouldn’t have been half bad but, what fun would that have been? I think all of us would have rather been soaked than dry…right? Noah, who had beaten us up on the hill, came tearing down below with some of our favorite locals, Mike and Chris. We yelled out to him and got a grin from ear to ear as he gave us a thumbs up and then disappeared into the blur of snow and fog. I love that my nine year old has discovered heaven at such an early age!

Although, the visibility was questionable and Solitude was still our quiet Solitude as far as crowds go, the atmosphere was different and any of you who were skiing at any of the Cottonwood resorts today know what I am talking about. We all knew the rocks were not far below but dang, it felt good to have snow blowing past our faces for once as we popped in and out of the piling drifts of snow that were quickly filling in our tracks. As the day wore on and the temperatures continued to drop the skiing only got better and better. Excited whoops and cat calls reverberated through the stillness of the winter filled landscape. The snows had returned along with the happiness of all those who have longed for it! I smiled to myself as I sat back on the lift and listened to the canyon echo with Joy.

What Dreams are Made of!

It's Been Awhile Since We Have Seen This....Thanks Guys!

Chris C. Noah & Mike G.

YEAH!

Isaac making his first powder turns of the year on Powderhorn

Your New Year’s Resolution…GO SKI!

My very first blog of 2012! Yippee! Can you believe it’s been a year since I last wrote? After a long, two week hiatus from Solitude, It sure felt good to get back up in Big Cottonwood Canyon and enjoy some serious sunshine as well as some beautiful turns! I am pretty sure you didn’t miss me but, just in case you did…just a little bit…I didn’t go AWOL, I promise, life just happened. The last few weeks were busy with an out-of-state wedding, travel assignment, kindergarten testing, and a few other hiccups so, it was definitely relaxing to hit the home turf today.

I see not a lot has happened (as far as snow) in my absence but, I hear it’s coming….that’s right!  Word on the street is that things are about to change. Change is good but as far as tomorrow goes…why worry about it, why not enjoy what today has to offer, and today was simply perfect!

Seriously, what a day! I don’t know, sometimes, days just click (and if you read this blog, you KNOW that doesn’t always happen for me) and today was one of them. I loved today! The weather was phenomenal, in a springy, laid back kind of way and the brilliant sunshine, reflecting off the snow, was just what this girl needed. All the regulars were on the hill having a great time, the kids were happy, my skis were the right size (long story), my boots were finally fitting the way the they should (another long story) and we even ran into a few unexpected friends which always makes for a good time.

On another note, it seems like every time I turn around someone asks me about the conditions and gives me their feeble excuse about why they don’t want to ski and why they haven’t made it up yet…not even once. I listen and nod my head and some days I might get you and feel your pain but not ski? Not ever? Why? That…I just don’t get! A friend of mine, from another mountain, was telling me that the resort gets calls every day from somebody or another asking whether the mountain is even open or not. PEOPLE, THE RESORTS ARE OPEN! Spread the news for goodness sakes! No, it’s not epic goodness, but the slopes are still worth your time!

So, for the last time, if any of you are still wondering if you should rally and head up the canyons…What the heck are you waiting for? Powder? Well, who isn’t, so why don’t you just put a smile on that face and realize that you can still have a great time without the fluff. Why wait for the crowds when you can still get some peaceful alone time on the hill? Why worry about your new fat skis when you can just grab those four year old giant slalom skis, hiding in your garage, and lay out some serious arcs? You could do what I have done most of the season and ski on a pair of midget slalom skis and try to actually make more than three turns down the hill. I have never turned so much in my life! I know a few people who would be shocked by my precise, little turns. I am telling you…good stuff!

You don’t have to listen to me or to any one else for that matter and you can go ahead and pull out your boring old golf clubs or whatever else you think is better than cruising down the ski hill, but just remember, when the snow comes and it will (because Mark Eubanks says it will) all of us who are ripping around, fine tuning our game, are going to crush your skinny legs when you finally do decide to make it up here. Just saying…

Blue Skies, Sunshine...Gorgeous!

Spencer Gardner carving up Sunshine Bowl

Don't tell Noah there is NO powder...He will surely find it!

Ahhhh

It looks like the Gardners and the Hodsons think that the skiing is no good...NOT!

Every Day is My Utah Ski Vacation

I‘m not going to lie to you, I really like snow. Not in a “Hey look, it’s snowing!” type of way, but more of a “snow flows through my veins” kind of thing.

Some may say that I’m addicted to snow, but I’m not. I can stop anytime–but why would I? I’ll take as much snow as i can get. To me there is literally no downside to the white and fluffy stuff.

Driving in it? I wish I could do it year round. It makes driving fun again.

Shoveling and clearing it? One of the best winters of my life was when…

Read the rest on dadventurous.com

Seek and Ye Shall Find

With so many neglected skis gathering dust in closets, there’s bound to be treasure out there for the one who searches in the right places. To this minority, I applaud. While the snow snobs keep sighing over lack of snow, your skis, dripping from melted snow in the back of your truck, have just enjoyed a day of secret stashes. This is the story of how I found mine:

I was running on about two hours of sleep after baking all night for a Sugared Magnolia order when I was asked to go skiing at Solitude Mountain Resort. I didn’t think I would have the energy needed to keep up with my own skis, let alone those of my friends. But, already missing the cold mountain air I had been in this past weekend, I complied and hoped for the best.

Since I was ice climbing in Colorado during the last snow storm, it completely escaped my mind that a new layer of white had fallen on the Utah mountains and patches of it still hung around off trail- my favorite area anyway. I was expecting more icy conditions upon my return to Solitude, but was surprised by how soft even the base layer was. No, these were not pristine conditions that begged for my powder skis, but my trusty rock skis could maneuver between the occasional exposed hard spot and the soft snow that was plentiful off-piste. And when I was funneled back to the trail from my wanderings in the ungroomed, I found no occasion for keeping a wary eye- the runs were clear of obstacles so I was free to make the wide, arcing turns that are the beauty of groomers.

Now, dear reader, you get a bonus for joining me on my search for snow. I’m about to divulge what another skier should never share. If you want the good stuff…

(Want it? Read more at ginabegin.com)