The sun popped hard at the end of the first day at Snowbasin, with the sky clearing quickly and a faint alpenglow painting the peaks. The sun was a surprise. After all, the media – including such heavyweights as The Weather Channel and CNN had been awash in reports of the “storm of the century”. This storm was supposed to be epic. A blizzard akin to the floods that washed Noah across the planet. If you listened to the media, the only option was to hunker down, stock up on frozen French fries and wait out the deluge of snow that would pour down from the heavens. So what the heck was the sun doing shining brightly over Snowbasin?
We shouldn’t have been so cynical. Sure, you have to take the talking heads on TV with a grain of salt, but this time they were right. The next morning the storm was back with a fury. We saddled up the truck and headed out.
Unlike our first foray up the ski area access road the trip was uneventful and we pulled into a prime spot right in the first row. Remember, that this is the weekend, with a full blown powder day on tap. Where were all the people? Our only guess what they were hanging out someplace far away – probably in the sun – which was also nowhere to be seen. What we could see was a line of about 6 or 7 diehards waiting for the rope to drop on the John Paul quad, fired up for yet another epic day. It seemed surreal. At any other mountain, there would have been a lift line of epic proportions. Here, there was only epic conditions and very few folks to share the experience with.
Our guide from the prior day, Mike Poborsky, was wrapping up avalanche control work and would meet up with us later, so we hooked up with G.R. I never did find out exactly what G.R. stood for. Was it “Grrrrr” the name everyone addressed him by? Or perhaps Gnarly Ripper (appropriate). Or even Gorilla on a Rampage (the style in which he tore through wooded glades?).
No matter, we hit the top of John Paul, abandoning any pretense of attempting to take photos in the growing blizzard and charged for first tracks directly under the lift. The next memories are a rush of speed, snow and sound, with the exception of one guy standing right at the top of the first line I came across out of the gate, who merely uttered “OH!” when I tore past him and poached first tracks from underneath his skis.
Of course, after two laps of unreal deep snow (with more falling fast and furious) it was time to attempt to take a few deep breaths and remember exactly why were were here. This was work, and so work we must. As always, the pictures tell the story. And it’s a story of a day that got deeper by the second as the snow and wind gave ‘er all they got. Epic? You bet!
Stay tuned to freeskier.com for more trip updates and be sure to check out the full feature in an issue of Freeskier Magazine next year, when we break down all the details on how you can find Heaven here on earth at this forgotten corner of Utah.
Can’t wait to for next year? Get all the beta on Snowbasin including current conditions, cool webcams and how you can book your vacation RIGHT NOW at www.snowbasin.com