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TR April 2019 in Utah: Alta, Snowbird, Deer Valley, Solitude


Angel Diva
Turned out to be a good year to spend more than a week at Alta Lodge in April. The base at Alta is around 175 inches. Temperatures are relatively cool. A major storm dropped over 45 inches in 3 days in the middle of the trip. Alta Lodge closes on April 21, which is the last day of 7-day operations for Alta. There will be a bonus weekend afterwards.

Ski buddy, Bill, and I have different friends at Alta in three consecutive weeks. We have Ikon and MCP for 2018-19 and are using both this trip. Most of the skiing is at Alta, with a day at Deer Valley, a visit to Solitude, and a little time at Snowbird.

Been little time for trip report writing. Will add more notes eventually.

For posts about the weather, check out the Utah 2018-19 thread starting at Post #84

Snow drift at top of Sugarloaf, top of Snowbird tram in the distance
Alta April A 2019  - 1.jpg


Angel Diva
Since the snowstorm this week was a major one, with early predictions for 2 feet at least, I rented powder skis from Alta Ski Shop. It was a bit of a rush the first morning, so I took the first skis offered that would be a good length. That turned out to be the Advantage 107 CW @159, 133-107-120, R15.4. I kept them for a second day when there was going to be even MORE snow.

Then switched to the Nordica Santa Ana 110 @161 for today . . . after a bit more snow. More importantly, Ballroom was scheduled to open and visibility was better. I liked the Nordica skis I used at Bridger in February when I spent the morning on the SA 93, and also did a few runs on the SA100.

I liked the Santa Ana 110 better than the Advantage 107 C W. A little easier to turn and definitely better on groomers, or skier packed trails. I skied both in untracked powder (on snow and in snow, depending), soft bumps in the open, chopped up snow, and powder on steep terrain (out Challenger gates).


Angel Diva
The storm total up was up to 45 inches this morning starting from Tuesday, April 9. Ballroom and Devil's Castle opened mid-morning. I skied solo this morning. I happened to be getting off the Collins lift just after the Ballroom gate opened. Rode up with a ski patroller who said about half way up that Ballroom was in the process of opening. I could already tell from the comments on his radio. When asked by one of the two young men on the lift with us, he said Devil's Castle would open in 20-30 minutes.

I was planning on heading to Supreme to find my friends but . . . no friends on a powder day. :becky: I got in line instead. Haven't caught the opening of Ballroom since 2008. Back then I wasn't really skiing off-piste much but was with expert friends who made sure I went out far enough to get enough pitch for the deep snow. This was the first time I made fresh tracks in deep powder on Ballroom going non-stop and at speed. All the lessons and practice are paying off. The feeling was awesome!

Santa Ana 110 @161 compared to Stormrider 85 @159 Alta April A 2019  - 2.jpg

Punch Bowl off Wildcat lift around 9:50, lifts open at 9:15
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Snow releases initiated by ski patrol, separate explosives, view from Aggie's Alley
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Looking down Lone Pine towards a full Wildcat parking lot, around 10:30
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Ballroom line a few minutes after opening at 10:45, line cleared in under 15 minutes
Alta April A 2019  - 6.jpg

One set of the fresh tracks is mine! Didn't stop until this spot after dropping in just before the rope line.
Alta April A 2019  - 7.jpg


Angel Diva
More snow! This storm system is not quite over yet. Supposed to warm up into the 30s today though. I'm going to ski my BPs with Phantom today. My friend JF and her kids arrive at lunch time. Unfortunately my other Massanutten friend can't get out of DC this morning and won't get in in time for dinner.

From Alta website on April 13, 2019
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Angel Diva
A true late season ski day. Pretty heavy snow for an hour or two in the morning, with temps in the high 20s and low visibility. Clearing by lunch time. Full sun all afternoon. By 3pm it was 43 at the base, 38 at Collins mid-station and rising, and 30 at the top of Collins. Still good snow to be found on the upper mountain but groomers were packed down hard in most places even though it wasn't particularly busy.

Ballroom and Devil's Castle were closed. Main Street and the usual blues were groomed last night. Getting ready for the next storm and cold front, which starts in a couple days.

Unlike past years when the old Cecret double and Supreme triple existed, the new Supreme quad will stay open this last week of 7-day operations. Not everyone has registered the change if they weren't around last season. Have heard of people telling others that today, Sunday April 14, is the last day for Supreme.

Discovered today that there is a new easy route from the top of Sunnyside to the Supreme lift. It comes into the new runout that goes to the right when coming off the Supreme blues. That runout is a bit longer but more interesting than the old straight runout that goes more under the lift line.


Angel Diva
Here's an example of the forecasts and status report that I check early in the morning when skiing Alta. The hourly stats are on the Alta website.

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Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 6.54.34 AM.png Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 6.45.31 AM.png

When there is fresh snow, it's useful to check Expected Openings. Not only for knowing the potential for skiing that day but also for a sense of whether local powder hounds will be around. If ski patrol needs a day or two or three to do avalanche mitigation work, then travelers staying at one of the lodges in the town of Alta can enjoy very empty slopes in late season.
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Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Count me jealous! Glad you are having such a great time!! I tried the SA93 at The Nutt and liked it. Also tried the SA100 in Vail, but there really wasn't enough snow to justify it. I'll have to give it a go again next season.


Angel Diva
I tried the SA93 at The Nutt and liked it. Also tried the SA100 in Vail, but there really wasn't enough snow to justify it. I'll have to give it a go again next season.
I didn't need skis as wide as 110 for the third powder day, but figured it was worth a try since I like the narrow Santa Ana models. Those are all on my list for rentals when I get lucky and catch a big storm at this point.

Been skiing the recent new snow with my old Black Pearls (2011, 88mm) and having a good time. 13 inches of new snow since the lifts closed yesterday so far and still snowing. But a little warm so it's heavy on the lower mountain. Catherine's didn't open after all. But the EBT is open. What's more unusual is that the gully and access to Saddle from Watson's was closed when we went by around 1:00.

Any spring skiing on fresh snow is good skiing! :snow:


Angel Diva
Definitely a spring snow day. Supreme was really fun in the morning. It opened at 10:15. My timing was perfect to get fresh untracked powder on Big Dipper for my friend JF who is a cautious adv. beginner/intermediate. Very few people so still could find untracked powder the second run. After a mid-morning break to get together with her kids, our Massanutten friend Chris, and Bill, there was still untracked right off the end of the cat track between the trees at 11:45.

JF's son was Level 8 at age 11 last year and is that much better this trip, even though he only skied one day in the southeast before arriving at Alta a few days ago. For those who know Bill . . . JF's son can follow Bill pretty much anywhere.

Temps were mid-30s at the base by lunch time as it kept snowing. Total is 12 inches since 4pm yesterday and still coming down a bit. JF is always lucky. Her family has skied in fresh snow at Massanutten (northern VA) quite a few times. But who would've thought when she came the third week of April there would be soooo much new snow.

Given the warm temperatures and continuing snow a lot of stuff was closed, including the Wildcat lift, the High T, and Saddle. I noticed that the gate to Race Course stayed open but had to cut down on Lower Sunspot. I was skiing with JF's DD after lunch. She's not as confident as her older brother. But can handle chopped up new snow on easy blacks.

Between Massanutten and Alta instructors, JF and her kids have solid fundamentals.
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You are really hitting it good! Surprised some snow is on the heavy side though, but I guess that's the case with warmer temps late season.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Looking forward to it! I’m so glad there’s a decent amount of snow. This will be a first for me as I’ve only skied Winter Park in this century! I will text you when I leave SLC airport.
You are really hitting it good! Surprised some snow is on the heavy side though, but I guess that's the case with warmer temps late season.
Yep, even when there is a powder storm during late season at Alta, it can be too warm by the first afternoon to find any fluffy snow. Rarely lasts for more than a day. That said, I always have fun in spring conditions. Partially because I'm with friends and partially because I've been able to learn where to go in the last decade from friends who know Alta very well.

One of the advantages of having improved my technique is that it opens up more options that have become fun, instead of too intimidating. Also helps to have skis treated with Phantom for warm days (over 40 degrees at the base).
First blue sky day in a while. Cool in the morning but with the sunshine it felt quite warm. Got up to the mid-40s by mid-afternoon. Snow conditions were actually quite good all over. Managed to get a run down Ballroom and Catherine's with Bill, JF's son, and JimK from DCSki.

(have a few pictures but they won't load just now)
I can not believe you are still at Alta and are enjoying skiing.
My ski season is over at Alta April 6.
I am already in gardening mode.
I harvested first asparagus a couple days ago.
Well, I certainly enjoyed the 50-inch powder storm cycle last week. This week is about having fun with friends, including a friend from home with her two kids. It's their third spring break at Alta Lodge in as many years. They certainly had good luck this week. Only this afternoon was cut short a bit because temps were in the high 40s after lunch. They will ski a bit Friday morning and then head to the airport. Bonus is that we get to enjoy an Alta Lodge picnic on the mountain, which only happens during the last week of the Lodge season when the weather cooperates.

My friend's son got to ski High Rustler for the first time today. I took him to Mineral Basin in the morning while my ski buddy Bill skied with the others on blue groomers. We switched off after lunch. Now that the boy is Level 8, Bill has a new ski buddy who can go with him anywhere. I'm not quite to that level yet. Certainly don't have the energy of a 12yo.
On Friday around lunch time I was headed back to the Collins side and noticed a "snake" had been created on Ballroom. There were a few people practicing. A few had to pop out of a few turns to avoid a crash, and then would head back in for more turns.

Here's what can happen on Closing Day at Alta when the weather is good


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
That was fun to watch! Sunday started out better than Saturday. The temp was lower and the clouds were out so the snow was better. I headed straight to Supreme and got some good skiing in. But, I took a hard fall. Freaked out a little because I couldn't see (no contrast) and sat back, lost control, blah, blah. blah. Got a nice bruise on my face, a fat lip and a bruised elbow. Made me a little cautious the rest of the morning.
I took my boots in yesterday to get them adjusted. This should help with the black toe and feeling too loose in the boot. Thank god!
I loved Alta and will make it back next Spring. Now on to CO tomorrow.
First blue sky day in a while. Cool in the morning but with the sunshine it felt quite warm. Got up to the mid-40s by mid-afternoon. Snow conditions were actually quite good all over. Managed to get a run down Ballroom and Catherine's with Bill, JF's son, and JimK from DCSki.

(have a few pictures but they won't load just now)
Here are the pics from April 17.

Riding up Wildcat lift, great view of Mt. Baldy, using Phantom-treated Black Pearls all week
Alta blue sky 17Apr2019  - 1.jpg

More important work by Alta Ski Patrol
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Aggie's Alley, can lead to Taint and Blitz, all great places to learn to ski powder
Alta blue sky 17Apr2019  - 3.jpg

The meadow makes the short hike for Catherine's well worth the effort. Also possible to herringbone and sidestep to avoid taking off skis, which works better for me.
Alta blue sky 17Apr2019  - 4.jpg

Sunset view looking "down canyon" from Alta Lodge dining room
Alta sunset 17Apr2019  - 1.jpg
Spring skiing at Alta is always fun. This April there was over 150 inches on the ground and the season total went well over 600 inches. However, I don't go expecting the same snow conditions as mid-season. Even catching a major snowstorm (>15 inches) doesn't necessarily mean fluffy powder. The Alta website has snowfall history that includes an indication of snow "density" for every day during snowstorms. Only April 12 had relatively low density snow: 7 inches of about 5.5%.

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