Had a fantastic adventure hiking up to the top of Gunsight at Alta today. I’ve now skied in 10 straight months. This has been the most epic ski season EVER. Skied every run at Alta in one season, and bagged many bucket list lines I’ve only fantasized about. Made it through the season with no injuries despite skiing in many ultra-expert and dangerous places. In fact, I only crashed and released a ski once all season. Sadly, I think today is the day I shut it down until next ski season.
The Coronavirus pandemic has shut down nearly the entire planet. Sadly this includes ski resorts. In the couple of weeks prior to the closing of the ski resorts I had checked off the 115th of my quest to ski all 116 marked runs at Alta Ski Area. See the map below.
The remaining run is one of the toughest of them all, the Baldy Chutes. Since hitting 115 I watched the run status anxiously, waiting for the fine Alta Ski Patrol to open Mount Baldy up. There had been several storms during this period, and then winds. Fresh snow and wind-loaded snow means avalanche danger and thus closure.
You don’t want to be in a slide when in a chute that’s narrow, 45-50 degrees steep, and has rocks on both sides. Trust me. I know.
Will It Happen This Season?
Alta is now closed. The only way I could get this marked off would be to skin up from the lower parking lot. Totally doable. There are a couple of factors I will have to consider and/or arrange. First off, I have some knee issues at the moment and walking around the block is not easy. I have to rest my knee. Second, I need a partner to do this with me. A spotter at the least. I fell down the entire Main Chute decades ago. I survived (which I’m told was a feat for someone who fell the whole way) and only left with a dislocated shoulder. I have that in the back of my head.
Bagging the Main Chute would mean the closure of two different stories for me:
1: Taking back that big fall I had decades ago.
2: Checking off the last and final of the 116 marked runs this season.
There’s plenty of time left in the season. If anyone wants to join me on this run, hit me up.
Though I’ve posted quite a bit about backcountry skiing, I’m an off-piste resort skier mostly at this point. I grew up skiing Alta Ski Area here in northern Utah. I even took lessons from, and skied many times with, Alf Engen. That explains my incredibly beautiful form (yeah, right).
This winter (2019-2020) I’m in much better physical shape and have been skiing more than any year in my entire life. It has been fantastic. I made a goal this ski season to ski every marked run Alta. There are 116 of them, 55% of them black diamond rating for advanced skiers.
After knocking off about 5 more runs yesterday, I reached the century mark! I’ve skied 100 of the 116 as of Feb 10, 2020. Below is a resort map with pink highlights for each run I’ve done this season.
When I get home after each ski day, I sit down at my desk with my pink highlighter and mark the runs I did that day.
I’ve got about 16 more to go, but some of these may be difficult to cross off the list. A couple of areas are not open that often, like the Baldy Chutes and East Castle. I’ve not seen East Castle open yet this season. That one will take skinning, side stepping, or boot packing to get to the top.
I’ll be back at it this weekend, tying to bust out a few more of the marked runs. I’ve captured video for many of the runs and will post here and on my YouTube channel.
Stay tuned and see you on the slopes.
Had an interesting experience skiing at Alta Ski Area today. I was out in the boonies like I normally am. I stopped on a hillside where I was plotting the next run of deep powder I was going to take. I felt a poof above me and thought a skier was going by, but it wasn’t. Then I realized I was in a small avalanche. It hit me in the back and covered me up to about my waist, and went on by down the hill. Check out these two photos. Notice in the first photo way up below/right of the tree in the middle, you can see where the snow broke away. The 2nd photo was looking downhill. I’d say it was probably 20 feet wide by the time it hit me, and it probably traveled 150 yards. The most interesting, concerning, notable thing was that it was absolutely silent. I had no clue it was coming.
I’m fine. Just had some snow covering my skis and legs. But had that been heavier and/or deeper snow, there may have been an issue.