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TR Alta in April 2021

I made it to SLC yesterday for my annual stay at Alta Lodge. Will be meeting up with old friends and new over the next couple weeks. Most like to be spring conditions but blue skies and soft snow can be great fun with company.

For those with enough posts to Divas Only, there is a MOTH thread with a list of who is coming and when. Feel free to PM me if you meet up and aren't on the list.

View of my Alta Lodge original lodge room, April 4, 8:30am MDT
Alta 04Apr2021 - 1.jpg
Another unusually warm day for early April. Base got to 60 and the it got to 54 at mid-mountain (Collins Study Plot). Don't think the instruments are in the sun.

@Olesya Chornoguz and I had a good time off Sugarloaf and Supreme first thing in the morning. It was about 40 at the top of Collins by 9:00. We stuck to groomers (Devil's Elbow, Extrovert, Razor Back). Most of the gates were open. The gates into Glory Gulch were being closed as we headed back to the Collins side around 11:30. With the rapidly increasing temps, seemed as of it issue was the potential for a wet slide.

Rock 'N Roll is my favorite groomer off Supreme. Also has a bunch of gates that lead to fun terrain with the right snow conditions so I like to find out early in the day what's open. We buzzed it three times. Challenger (black that starts just to the right of the lift) was still pretty firm around 11:00 even though the air temp was quite warm and it gets a lot of sun.

Ballroom was still mostly firm just before we had lunch at Alta Lodge. We ate out on the porch, which was really nice.

There was still fun to be had off Supreme in the afternoon. We were joined by Bill and my NCS classmate, Nick. Plus a friend of Nick's who lives in SLC. I checked out my favorite little short gully that is accessed from the last gate off Challenger. Since that's all in the shade, the snow was firm but not icy. After multiple lessons and Taos Ski Weeks, I can bop thru it without stopping even in less than ideal snow. Quite a difference from the first time I was in it back in 2011 when I was essentially making one turn at a time, with a full stop afterwards.

I quit a little early in order to enjoy Tea Time at Alta Lodge, which ends at 4pm this season. Met @BReeves215 who arrived this afternoon.
We left SLC today, one day earlier than planned. We skied both Deer Valley and Alta but decided it was time to return home for summer activities. Deer Valley was really slushy by noon. Alta was better due to its much higher elevation. However, I believe that the forecast is for cooler temperatures.

Now we have a month plus of Mammoth skiing to look forward to.
Interesting--I don't think I've ever seen/noticed "the snake" before
I would guess that your late season trips have been a bit too early.

There are a few places were a Snake can get developed at Alta. I've seen one on skier's right of Lower Rustler in April before. In December there was one on Stonecrusher. Needs to have consistent warm temps before some locals will start one. I think it probably requires a small group that knows what they are doing. Once it's set, then anyone can give it a try.

Is the "snake" like a half-pipe?
Not really. It's a set of "banked turns" but with the right temps it can get pretty deep. Once someone goes up and out of the top doing a trick, they won't be able to get back into the Snake.
Better spring skiing today. Far fewer people. The lines put out for the lifts were half the lengths that were set up for the weekend. Temps stayed mostly in the 40s. Got up to around 50 but didn't stay that warm for long. Snow on the Collins side in the afternoon was pretty good for skiing bumps.

A cold wind started blowing around 3pm. Snow started at dinner time. :snow:

Looking into Mineral Basin at Snowbird
Alta 05Apr2021 - 3.JPG

The Ballroom snake from the bottom
Alta 05Apr2021 - 4.JPG

Wildcat parking lot was perhaps half full, slopes were pretty empty by 3:30
Alta 05Apr2021 - 5.JPG
Winter weather is back! Started hearing the wind blow harder as I went to bed last night. As of 7am, it's blowing hard, snowing sideways, and there is at least 3 inches up top already with plenty of drifting. It was 11 degrees with a 15 mph wind at the top of Collins at 6am.

I'm putting weather stats in the LCC/BCC thread:

View from Room 12 at 7am MDT on April 6, same window as in Post #1
Alta 06Apr2021 snowstorm - 1.jpg

Alta Lodge deck
Alta 06Apr2021 snowstorm - 2.jpg

Just outside the locker room door
Alta 06Apr2021 snowstorm - 3.jpg
It was most definitely a powder day! However, relatively few people were around to enjoy it. Best guess is that the forecast for only a few inches meant that locals mostly didn't bother to make the drive up the canyon. Plus it was pretty cold, meaning in the 20s all day. The line at Collins at 9:15 (when lifts start) probably cleared in under 5 minutes. Don't know for sure because @Olesya Chornoguz and I decided to head over to Sunnyside and Supreme using the transfer tow. Wanted to avoid the wind and low visibility at the top of Collins. Plus I wanted to see how the greens were off Sunnyside.

Alta leaves as much ungroomed as practical in this sort of situation. So only the easiest way down when going left at the top of Sunnyside was groomed. The short, slightly steeper pitch provided first tracks at 9:30am. Plenty of opportunity for first tracks off Supreme before 11:00am. It was deep enough that I needed to make sure I stayed in existing tracks if there wasn't much pitch or else I was going to end up walking for a bit. In the morning there was around 10 inches, and it was mostly pretty fluffy. There were places that were knee deep on me off-piste.

What Alta Ski Lifts decided to do with the Singles Line is to have the first two singles ride a single chair, with one skier on each end. Anyone who wants to ride solo is supposed to wait in a regular line. That wasn't in place in early season.

Taking transfer tow over to Albion first thing in the morning
Alta 06Apr2021 - 1.JPG

Alf's around 11am, had good fun with my DPS Zelda skis (purple)
Alta 06Apr2021 - 3.JPG

Instructions for Singles Line at Supreme, blue fencing is for the ghost lane
Alta 06Apr2021 - 2.JPG

Deep powder off Wildcat in the late afternoon
Alta 06Apr2021 - 4.JPG
Back to spring skiing today. Temps rose rapidly in the morning and made into the high 40s by mid-morning. The big difference was that Ballroom, the Backside, and Catherine's were open first thing in the morning. Also Rock 'N Roll off Supreme, which is normally groomed but not after a powder storm. So the line at Collins at 9:15 took 20+ minutes to clear, and there was a line of 5-10 min most of the morning.

We got first tracks on Ballroom as the first run of the day. :becky:

By the afternoon, it was pretty hard to find snow that stayed cold enough to be fluffy. Even in the Wildcat trees.

View from my Alta Lodge room, April 7 around 8:30am
Wildcat terrain in the sun already (trees on the right)
Alta 07Apr2021 - 1.jpg
A couple pics showing powder tracks from this morning.

Looking down from Ballroom traverse just before we all dropped in just before 10am. People standing are on Main Street, which was groomed.

View from the start of the Collins Return cat track (on left). Only time people ski the slope off the cat track is when it's possible to ski fresh untracked powder. Terrain in the background includes Yellow Trail. Top of Mount Baldy in the background in the top left corner.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The snow density of this storm was just silky. Not Utah blower, (if there really is such a thing anymore) not heavy at all, just silky, buttery smooth. You really lucked out! Downside of April storms is the snow does set up really quickly once the sun hits it. But the wind buff created by such a silky density snow is fabulous! I got to ski it for the morning yesterday, and hunted for as much off-groomed as possible. The temps are not supposed to climb much through the weekend, so you should have some pretty good skiing to finish things out!
Good spring skiing today. Devil's Castle opened up in the morning so that brought out some locals. But it was pretty quiet after lunch. A little hard to find soft enough snow off-piste but there was some if you knew where to look.

Met up with @Tennessee and @Scribble first thing in the morning. Had a good time giving a little tour. I peeled off at 11:00 from the Supreme area because I had a lesson with Arthur at 1:00. Did the lesson with my Massanutten ski buddy Chris, who was part of the Taos group in March.

MarzNC, Tennessee, Scribble at the top of the Supreme lift (entrance to Catherine's behind them)
Screen Shot 2021-04-08 at 9.59.40 PM.jpg
No new pics yesterday. It never warmed up enough in the morning to do anything but enjoy the groomers. Only about 35 at lunch time.

After lunch I spent a couple hours skiing with my NC friend, JF, on blues off Supreme and Collins. She had a semi-private lesson with Arthur and another friend who has become a regular at Alta Lodge in recent years. She's using pole touches now. Same concept that Arthur was working on with Chris, although for him the challenge is to develop the ability to use poles more effectively on off-piste terrain.

Chris and I did get in runs on Challenger just before Supreme closed (3:30) where there was a section of "corn snow." Great fun!

JF was skiing Alta blues in 2018-19, but didn't ski much at all during the 2019-20 season. The extra mileage she had at Massanutten (home mountain in northern VA) in January 2021 made a big difference. She also had a couple of semi-private lessons then. Getting in 16 ski days in the same month was completely unusual. She was able to extend her Alta trip to include 10 ski days instead of the usual 6. I expect her to have a great time in the next week. Not only because she's all warmed up from a skiing standpoint, but also because she's over altitude adjustment after 3-4 nights sleeping at Alta.

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