Friday, December 26, 2008

2008/2009 Ski Season: Day 1-4 Recap

I'm back from my trip to Snowbird for the start of the 2008/2009 ski season. What a blast! We hooked it up with the Bay Area Ski Bus and flew to Salt Lake City on Saturday, December 20th. The flight was out of Oakland, so we packed our gat, locked the doors, and hoped for the best.

We met Walter and the rest of the crew at the gate. I was the only one of the group who had previously skied Utah so, naturally, everyone started to ask me questions.

What's the snow like?

What happened to that skier in the avalanche last week?

How big is the mountain?

What about Alta? (Alta is for skiers :) )

After answering all these questions and more, I was dubbed the "expert skier," much to my chagrin.

We landed in SLC and hooked up with Canyon transport for the ride to Snowbird. Our driver was really cool. My only question to him was about the roads. They are notoriously dangerous and often closed. He assured me we were all good on that front so we headed out.

We made a pit stop at the grocery store at the base of the canyon. Jodi and I loaded up on trail mix, cheese, crackers, and my favorite, yogurt.

When we got to Snowbird, we checked in to the Cliff Lodge. This place is tight! Right on the mountain, you can ski in and out of the Cliff via the Chickadee slope or the Cliff Access run. We got a crappy room on the 6th floor with two queens. Unacceptable. I went to the front desk and upgraded to a King on the 9th floor with access to the Cliff Spa. Nice!

Day One:

I took Jodi down to Cliff Sports to rent some skis. She got Dynastar Legends 165s which were perfect for the pow pow in store. We headed out to the Chickadee slope with Andrew, also on Legends. I could hardly wait. As I clicked in, I started whooping and hollering. Jodi and Andrew were a bit slow and I couldn't wait any longer for the first turns of the season. We did a few laps on Chickadee then took the plunge and hit the tram.

We took the tram to the top and it was a mad house. The wind was howling and snow was blowing everywhere. I took a few minutes next to the ski patrol shack to hang out with the recscue dogs and ski patrol. We needed to get moving or get blown off the mountain!

It was a bit dicey coming down Chip's Run. I needed to do some cajoling to get Jodi down the mountain. In retrospect, maybe the tram wasn't the best place to start out. However, the mountain is pretty difficult to navigate and I only learned later how to get to easier lifts from the Cliff.

The lowlight of the day was getting mowed down from behind by an out of control snowboarder.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We hit Gadzoom, Gad 2 and then headed back in. All in all, it was a great first day of the season.

Day 2:

Jodi went in for a lesson and Walter and I ripped it off of Peruvian. Tons of snow, maybe 12" overnight plus some nice ungroomed all over the mountain. It was a blast. My legs were feeling it for sure. We met up with Jodi at the Mid Gad lift and shortly thereafter. Jodi and I headed to Gad2 when I decided to hit up Little Cloud.

As I ascended the mountain on the Little Cloud lift, things got progressively more hairy. The wind was whipping around and snow was poudning my face. My gloves were frozen, my face bright red, and my jacked stuck to the lift. When I got off the lift, it was an absolute white out. I couldn't see two feet in front of me. There were a group of 4 skiers hanging out ther and I shouted "I'm following you guys, I have no idea where I am going." That plan didn't work out too well as two of the four guys were clearly outmatched by the conditions. Only one skier and I went down the slope right away. He was okay but kept stopping. As I didn't want to go alone into the abyss I stopped too. At one point, the wind was blowing so hard the snow was whipping by me at over 40 mph. I was stopped but had the feeling of moving due to the snow drift. That really freaked me out. I eventually got to a bit lower elevation and regained some visibility. I was frozen through and kept turning all the way down to the base of Gad 2.

When I met Jodi near the Gad 2 lift, I let out a shreik. She says: "I've never heard your voice so high." I was pretty shaken up but was good for a few more laps. We hit the Bass Highway and called it good.

Day 3:

We started out at Baby Thunder lift. There was tons of fresh powder. I had some fun ripping up the ungroomed sides of the runs. There was one whole run that was untouched. That is utill I got there.

We hit some more laps off of Gad 2. There was pleanty of freshies to be had in between the zig-zagging Bananas run. I had some mogul action, a brief encounter with some rocks, and I was all good.

Day 4:

Our last day was also really fun. We got out for first chair on Wilbere and hit up the Baby Thunder area again. They had come through and groomed most of the runs which made it more fun for the beginners. I ripped it up under the chair and got some more fresh tracks. We went to Gadzoom and it was still pretty windy. We hit up Wilbere lift and then headed in to turn in Jodi's skis and have lunch. The whole Bay Area crew was there at the Cliff getting lunch. We headed back to SLC airport and flew back to Oakland on Christmas Eve in time to wrap presents and sack out.

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