I came into today needing only four more runs to finish off my season long goal of skiing every marked run at Alta Ski Area. The Baldy Chutes were on the list, but I opted to try and bust off the other three remaining runs, No Name, Blitz and Christmas Tree. I made that decision because today I was testing out some new skis I just picked up.
The new skis are Atomic Bent Chetler 100’s. They’re narrower than my typical big mountain ski, and quite a bit shorter. I got them in hopes that I can make some quicker, tighter turns in steep and narrow areas.
My first run testing out the new skis, and busting another run off the list, was “No Name.” No Name is accessed from the High Traverse. The run is quite similar to many of the other runs which come off the High Traverse like Watson Line or Jitterbug. It’s extremely steep.
It was “interesting” to say the least, on new skis doing my first run on very steep terrain. It was early in the morning, about 9:40, and the snow was very hard pack with ice. At that point I realized now comfortable I am on bigger skis. I was lacking confidence in these smaller skis and really struggled to make turns in them. So No Name ended up being more of a “try not to fall” type of run. Not my favorite kind of skiing.
For my second run I decided I needed to take it a little easier and try to figure out the new skis, so I went up Wildcat lift where I could then access “Blitz.” Blitz is a black diamond run (advanced skiers), but compared to No Name it was pretty much cake. It had some small moguls which gave me my first mogul challenge on the new shorter skis. Not bad.
After Blitz I only had one more objective to claim on the day, “Christmas Tree.” Christmas Tree is a small pine tree shaped area off the High Traverse, to the right of Stone Crusher as one is looking up at it or at the trail map. Getting to Stone Crusher is quite interesting one has to navigate a maze of trees which on about a 40-45 degree slope.
I remembered that Christmas Tree was about half way down off of Stone Crusher. So I skied Stone Crusher and cut right into the trees. The snow was very bad. It had been melted by the sun the day before, and then frozen overnight. So it was very hard, icy, thick and very difficult to turn in. I wasn’t quite sure where I was and kept going at it through the trees. After I came out of the trees and looked back up, I wasn’t quite sure I’d actually skied Christmas Tree. Once I looked at a trail map, I realized that I came out into Lone Pine. I skied the wrong side!
Christmas Tree – This Time I Mean It
Armed with better directional awareness I headed back up to the top of Stone Crusher again. It’s such a tremendous, and frightening looking run at the top.
This time I properly cut LEFT about halfway down Stone Crusher. Voila. Found it.
Christmas Tree was run 115 of the 116 at Alta Ski Area. One more to go, and it is a biggie, the Baldy Chutes. Stay tuned.