Header image: Jay Dash | Skier: Tyler Peterson
My truck barrels into the Wildcat lot at Alta to a welcomed tranquil scene. Puffy flakes of snow fall from the gray sky, and the fir and spruce trees stand tall, caked in powder. The morning line-up is barely one row deep at this point. I slap on my boots and clamor over to toss my skis in line, failing to remember my phone and wallet again, in a haste to secure a spot and hit the bathroom before the opening bell.
It’s late January and I don’t even know what day it is anymore. A friend and I chat aboard the Collins Chair, sussing out the results from avalanche control and discussing where to head off the High Traverse. High Boy? Thirds? An air line in Eagles Nest… I’m pretty sure I hit that first, last storm… I think. We’re powder drunk. All I know is it isn’t a weekend, but other than that the season had become a blur. Since opening day, which was stalled for lack of snow but turned out to be spectacular following a train of storms post Thanksgiving, the faucet was gushing. By the turn of the New Year, with consistent refreshes along the way, things began to turn legendary.
Beginning January 1, close to 300 inches fell in the span of two months (the season’s total was a whopping 596, average is around 500). I lost track of time given the absurd regularity of it all: digging my car out, skiing pow all day, having a beer (or three) at the Peruvian, snowblowing the driveway, repeat. The locals were gleaming. “Best Backside lap in years,” echoed someone on a powder day in January, the same day I thought I teleported into another universe on my Keyhole lap—with snow billowing above me as I charged through the chokes of the Gun Tower line.
Though last season’s trend was best depicted in late January, following an avalanche control road closure that sent slides reaching all the way down to Highway 210. The second wave of the storm settled in the most perfect scenario imaginable, light-as-air snow without a breath of wind. After spending the morning soaring through 40 inches of Wasatch blower, two friends and I congregated at Alta Java for a Susie’s Special (a chai latte with two shots of espresso). While catching up with other stoked locals, we silently plotted our next move and grabbed our wide-eyed friend who had finished his shift on patrol.
Two hours later we were standing on top of Little Superior, the majestic peak across the street that faces Alta. “F#ck yeah, Ray!” my buddy screamed as we watched our friend finish a ski cut onto the steep line and punch it into the abyss. It was beyond deep and remarkably stable. I dropped in, immediately blinded with every turn and tore down the face. We looked like ghosts descending the mountainside; the snow so light it engulfed us as gravity sped us towards the bottom. It was magical. Even following several more months of powder skiing at Alta, that day is etched in my mind. I can’t wait for more.