December 28, 2012

Chasing Powder to Alta

Superior Stars and Moon High-Res Water Mark

It feels weird driving away from Crested Butte in the midst of a three foot storm.  But the Wasatch was set to receive 40 inches on top of a strong base.  So I left the Butte, and after meeting TJ David in Grand Junction, drove through the night and arrived at Alta Ski Area at 4:30 Tuesday morning (TJ drove, I slept).

Once again, Alta lived up to the legend.  The resort had received thirty inches of the lightest snow you could ask for, and it was still coming down strong.  We started the morning in the high traverse area off of Collins lift before moving over to lap the Wildcat Lift, where we met up with former CB locals Jesse Hall and Kipp Schorr.

TJ David getting rowdy.

TJ David getting rowdy.

We were fortunate to be unloading from Collins lift when we saw patrol opening up the traverse to Bad News cliffs.  On days like that, Bad News is very good news.  On our first go around, we all hit large double stagers to deep landings.  On the second go around, TJ launched an enormous lawndart off a pyramid shaped rock that made a perfect takeoff.

Then Supreme opened.  When you ski with Jesse Hall, you know it’s time to cowboy up.  Following Jesse’s tracks can lead you to thirty footers that you might not be altogether ready for.  Sometimes you just gotta go. And the snow was deep enough for it.  We lapped supreme five times before our sleep deprived bodies had had enough.

You like pillows?

You like pillows?

The next day, we woke up to bluebird skies and four inches of refills.  Though I had been to Alta before, I had never seen Rocky Point. Rocky Point is a well known slack-country area off of Catherine’s on Supreme that is very publicized.  By the time we arrived, around twenty skiers were already there getting shots.  Colter Hinchliffe was sending enormous flat threes while Brant Moles was hitting the famous A-Frame rock.  I lapped Rocky Point four times before moving on as the session had left Rocky Point pretty well tracked out.

From the top of the Rocky Point bootpack, we joined Ryan Caggiano and Powell Eastman and hiked up the ridge to ski Patsy Marley.  The thirty minute hike lead to 1500 feet of untouched powder on a west facing aspect that drops back towards the ski area.  Content and tired, we returned to our hotel to rest and recuperate.

The Peruvian Lodge (and the base area in general) is different than most lodging experiences.  In contrast to large fancy hotels at other resorts, the Peruvian is everything you need, nothing you don’t.  An unlikely bastion of reggae music, the lodge consists of cozy rooms that have communal bathrooms (I believe you can upgrade to rooms with bathrooms), a dining room where they serve breakfast and dinner, a pool, hot tub, tuning shop and a bar.  We ate dinner across the way at the Goldminer’s Daughter, the lodge/restaurant/bar at the base area before crashing ahead of one last day of Wasatch fun.

Stoked crew.

Stoked crew.

Our final day, we awoke to rumors that the Keyhole was opening for the first time this season.  Joined by Colter Hinchliffe, we rushed to load the Wildcat lift and hiked to the Keyhole gate, only to be told it would be a while.  So we “killed time” by lapping the Collins and Wildcat lifts.  Alta has a multitude of playful features throughout the mountain that are perfect for floaty tricks.  One unique feature about Alta is that the resort allows people to build jumps all over the mountain.  By the end of the season, the area is littered with booters that turn standard zones into fun jumplines.

After a handful of laps, we joined the growing group anticipating the opening of Keyhole.  Ski Patrol came, warned us of early season conditions, and we dove in.  Though it was thin, it was still very good.  After roughly 1000 feet of vertical, you are dumped out in a zone between Alta and Snowbird, where you can walk back or wait for the bus.

After few more laps on the resort, we loaded the truck and headed back to Colorado, but not before making the obligatory stop at In N Out burger.  It was an awesome three days. Once again, the Wasatch was kind to me.  Enormous thanks to Alta Ski Area for a for providing another incredible time.

Check out the story and edit on Skiing Magazine’s site.

About the Author

1. Ed Dujardin
After moving out west for college, Ed took summer school so he could spend winters in Crested Butte. These days, he coaches the Western State Colorado University Freeride Team, and spends as much time as he can fishing the incredible rivers of the area.