A little bit of powder goes a long way. Once again a small storm swept over the Wasatch Mountains, leaving 5-6 inches on the ground. While that doesn’t sound like much to local skiers used to storms that drop snow measured in feet, not inches, this season those small amounts have meant a world of difference. Here’s a Wasatch ski conditions update.
Alta Ski Area
The storm came in Saturday morning and Alta reported a few inches of new snow. Skies cleared a bit but soon upper Little Cottonwood Canyon socked in when the next wave hit. A full-on blizzard took over, bringing winter back to Alta. The upper mountain boasted a temperature of 11 degrees. Wind picked up. And powder started dumping for a free-refills type of afternoon.
That day at Alta, aspect was key in finding the best snow, even after the snowfall. Wind scoured the west aspect, but loaded the east faces with creamy pow. I mostly stayed on the east face off the Wildcat lift on Stimulation and Johnson’s Warmup. I also found the best snow on the backside of the High Traverse on runs like Gunsight, High Greeley, and East Greeley. Soft snow was a sure thing in Eagle’s Nest as well.
The same cannot be said about Supreme, Catherines, and West Rustler. Any snow on west-facing slopes was a lot harder and more crunchy, especially where it was wind affected.
What is great about skiing at Alta is how you can work the aspect in your favor. If the west faces are not quality, go to the east side and vice-versa. Saturday was a great example of that and the new snow made the day a whole lot of fun.
Solitude Mountain Resort
The next day (Sunday) I hit Solitude for some leftovers. The resort reported 5 inches in 24 hours, so the morning must have been great skiing. Unfortunately I could not get there until noon. So I went in search of leftovers. Luckily at Solitude, finding untracked snow is easy to do, even days after a storm.
Eagle Express and Powderhorn runs were pretty good, even though the fresh snow was long gone. Still, the new snow left groomed and off-piste runs nice and soft. But powder was what I sought, so I made my way over to Summit.
I’m going to give away a secret – Evergreen Peak is the place to be the day after a storm. If your usual stashes are tracked out, the back side of Evergreen is a safe bet for fresh lines. The hike up is steep, but not long and the skiing is quality on both the back and front sides. I made two Evergreen laps on Sunday. The first was on the back side on Wagon Wheel. There I skied fresh powder nearly from top to bottom. Once thing to consider when skiing here is to watch out for cliffs. You must traverse left when reaching a cliff area to navigate down to the SolBright Trail.
The second lap I stayed on the front side and got first tracks down the main chute. I was very surprised that nobody had skied this line since the storm, but there I was. This chute is quite narrow, with two ski-length chokes that make things… slow. But clearing those narrow points allowed for nice turns in a blank canvas of snow.
According to Evan Thayer at onthesnow.com, the weather should stay active through the week with more snow Monday into Tuesday and again Thursday/Friday. None of the systems seen very strong, but like this past weekend showed, a little bit can go a long way in making a fun ski day.