The Lift Ticket That Changed Everything
Noaa.gov snowflakes had taken over my computer screen; the weekly forecast looked nuclear. Alta already had received 574 inches of snow that winter and the window overlooking The University of Vermont Green, was far to green for my liking in early April. With an airline credit from a postponed trip to the powder skiers’ hallowed ground, I hit click and relished in my first storm chase adventure. Like many tales of Alta powder days, it was a storm that altered my life. Typical powder days in Utah are great anywhere else, but LCC interlodge events hijack skiers’ dreams who are lucky enough to have experienced them.
I recently came across the saved ticket while packing and moving in Salt Lake. Storm total 30 inches – interlodged, it read. I’ve experienced deeper cycles since, but this one was special. “Snowbird shut down the tram,” said one guy on the chair. The whipping wind and steady snow was too much to handle, and yet Alta was relatively quiet. Couch surfing at photographer Re Wikstrom’s house, who had recently learned the ins and outs of Alta’s stashes, our posse zipped across the High-T.
Eventually the road closed, but Collins kept spinning – a phenomena I have since learned called “country club.” Laps upon laps of High-boy and Eagle’s Nest, each one deeper and more buffed. Being a skier from Stowe, Vermont the steep trees with airs had me cackling as our crew sped out into the abyss. The road re-opened for less than a hour that evening, it re-closed when a natural slide pushed a car off the road. Everyone was fine, but that was it, and soon news of the storm and slide broke on The Weather Channel—with my girlfriend and parents calling to make sure I was ok. We scored beers and a cheap dinner at the base from friends, and I slept on the floor of the bar at the Gold Miners Daughter. By then, the snow had tapered and the April sun was to do its job the next morning and we watched, mesmerized from the window of the GMD as avalanche control work initiated huge slides down Superior, Hell-Gate, and Cardiff.
I flew home in a daze. Forever changed by a powder day buzz unlike ever experienced before. I returned next year with my skiing girlfriend, now wife, for a week. The year later for four weeks. Now we call Alta our home mountain; that ticket changed everything.