A June 18th Powder Day at Alta Ski Area

Posted: June 24th, 2014 | Author:

Words by Alta athlete, Kalen Thorien

There’s something mildly uncanny about waking up at 4:30 a.m. on June 18 for a powder day.

It feels like you’re suffering from an internal glitch. That you were suddenly and accidentally rewired while sleeping and your body was teleported back to winter while your mind has long since shifted over to summer mode . . . as well as all of your gear.

I shuffled around the house frantically, trying to remember where I put all my ski equipment. The burn from my sun filled Lake Powell trip the week prior still stung as I slid on my snow pants. Here I was, down puffy and all, walking out the door with my skis in hand and a severe case of seasonal confusion. But man, was I stoked!

My boyfriend, Ian Provo, and I met our good friend and adventure photographer, Jim Harris, at the mouth of the canyon around 6 a.m. We quickly realized that our “early” start had not been updated to match summer solstice hours. The sun was already out and shining; its rays signaling doom to our beautiful, fluffy new snow. We scurried up to Alta with the classic Main Chute line in mind. Already a few tracks had been laid into the beautiful, fresh white blanket that covered the Wasatch, but there were plenty of goods to be had.

Alta Ski Area Summer Powder Day

The boys on the way up. Photo: Kalen Thorien

It had only been about a month since I’d toured, but the first few steps felt (and probably looked) like a cat with tape stuck to its feet or when you put booties on your dog for the first time. I was all over the place. I forgot to put my bindings in walk mode, my feet felt like they had grown two sizes since the last time they were in my boots, the traction on my skins was laughable and overall my ski coordination had taken a backseat to BBQs and pool parties. Luckily, after a few awkward glides and a little rearranging, I felt like I had never left winter.

We made our way up towards Mt. Baldy where Main Chute resides. The sun sparkling off the snow was reminiscent of those chilly January bluebird mornings; something you only see when the snow quality is truly light and blower. The anticipation to ski this gorgeous powder was overshadowing the extremely bare skin track; the plethora of rocks being the obvious reminder that “Oh yeah, it’s summer…”

Alta Ski Area Summer Powder Day

Kalen topping out on Baldy. Photo: Jim Harris

We topped out on Baldy and took in our surroundings. The vastly altered landscape was mesmerizing to our eyes. The warm sun mixed with the cool air and toyed with our senses. The smell of both winter and summer creates an alluring aroma; one of frosted yet rejuvenated pine needles and aspen leaves. We took in what would most likely be our final snowy view of the Wasatch before we each dropped in. The chute itself had been skied, but coming out into the apron with endless options for fresh tracks was a magical moment. Hoots and hollers echoed throughout Baldy’s rocky walls as we worked our way down. This wasn’t corn skiing nor was it June snow that’s good for nostalgia but not actually good skiing. No, this was high quality H2O with all the trimmings that you would expect from Utah (minus the tall grass that was sticking out).

Alta Ski Area Summer Powder Day

Ian Provo dropping in on Main Chute. Photo: Kalen Thorien

Needless to say, the smiles were wide and the turns were sweet as we skied back to the parking lot, passing fellow shredders on their way up for a taste. The further down we got, the game of how much speed vs. how many rocks became a bit more intense, but a moot point by then. Our friends Micah and Ty, who we linked up with at the start, had a few Sum’R Ales waiting for us back at the car. We cracked them open, passed them around, and relished in the unique experience that was skiing powder at Alta during the summer. The thought of 90 degree temperatures upon our return to the valley loomed in the distance but our hearts and minds were still submerged in the glory we had just experienced. Whether or not you made it up for a ski this last Tuesday is irrelevant. Just to see those mountains covered in snow, whether it was only a day or two, is a beautiful reminder that winter is just around the corner.

Alta Ski Area Summer Powder Day

Kalen Thorien and Ian Provo. Photo: Jim Harris

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