Powder Days Are Here Again
On Monday, December 21, there was a buzz around Alta. Snow was falling from the sky in beautiful, cold dendrite crystals, one flake at a time, accumulating on my legs as I sat alone on the Wildcat chairlift. I headed out to Westward Ho and found a stash of untouched powder, including the 9 inches that fell in the past 24 hours.
The previous storm had already dumped 45 inches in one week. In the same span of time, the mountain was transformed. The High Traverse and Supreme Chair were now open, and everything was skiing well. It was suddenly midwinter.
At the bottom of my run through Westward Ho, there was a chatter in the lift line. I overheard strangers talking about projected storm totals:
“It’s going to drop a minimum of two feet.”
“The snow’s getting lighter and drier. It’s going to be blower.”
“Tomorrow will be the day.”
Sure enough, as the day progressed, the storm’s intensity increased. Mount Superior across the canyon socked in and disappeared from view. By the end of the day, there was a feeling in the air that the storm was never going to leave and would continue dumping snow at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Hopefully the people in the lift line were correct.
The hopes and dreams of skiers in the Wasatch came true the following morning. 18.5 inches of cold, light snow fell in the previous 24 hours, but it looked even deeper when I arrived at Alta. My girlfriend and I hurriedly put our boots on and snagged our place in the Collins lift line. Looking around, everyone had the same look in their eyes, a wonder for the day to come.
For the first run, we headed out the High Traverse. Looking down into West Rustler, I could tell it was going to be even deeper than expected. When we finally made it out to where we wanted to drop in, there was a perfect sea of white, untouched powder in front of the tips of our skis.
My first turn provided; a wave of snow enveloped my body and rushed over my face. I transitioned to my next turn, seemingly with no effort. I felt weightless as I dove back into the deep. Involuntarily, I let out a yell, allowing myself to become fully present in the euphoric experience. Over my shoulders, I heard hoots and hollers from my fellow skiers, who were just as happy as me. The rhythm continued for the entire run. Turn, face shot. Turn, face shot. Yell. Turn, face shot. Giggle. Turn, face shot.
We skied straight back to Collins, grinning from ear to ear. The lift line was full of smiles, laughs, and excitement. After all, powder days like this are why we all ski at Alta.