Westward Ho 2024
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

I've begun my westward migration for the 2024 season.  I've been in Utah for ten days.  Before that I took about a week to drive across from DC during that very cold period around MLK Weekend.

I skied two days each in Colorado at Monarch and Copper Mtn ski areas.  My first ski day in CO was on Jan 12 at Monarch.  It was 2 degs and so windy only one chairlift was operating.  Talk about a Rocky Mtn wake up call!  Still the snow was powdery and got even better over the next few days.

Jan 12 Monarch ski area near Salida, CO, elevation approx 10,800 to 12,000':

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Evening in Salida, CO, Jan 13, 2024.  Maybe this is what Aspen looked like in 1960??  Bridge in foreground goes over the Arkansas River, which runs 1500 miles and joins the Mississippi River a few miles south of Little Rock, AR.

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I was back at Monarch Ski Area on Jan 14 and it was a real fine powder day, 12" on the trails and felt like 18" in the trees.  The temps warmed up to about ten degs:

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I experienced some very wintry driving conditions in CO.  This is cresting Fremont Pass (11,300'), Jan 15, during an 85 mile morning drive from Salida, CO to ski at Copper Mtn:

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I skied at Copper Mtn on Jan 15 and 16, conditions were good, but not quite as powdery as little Monarch:

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Then on Jan 17 I drove from Silverthorne, CO to Salt Lake City, UT.  The initial three or four hours were very snowy, and I was lucky to get over Vail Pass before an extended closure of I70.  This is I70 West in Glenwood Canyon.  Snow plow drivers are a skier's best friend:

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The weather cleared as I continued west.  This is I70 near the exit for Moab, UT.  Grey tones, but black pavement:

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My first day of skiing in Utah was on Jan 20.  This is my son Vince on a slope called Restaurant Roll in the Gad Valley side of Snowbird Ski Area:

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I've skied four more times at Snowbird since the 20th.  Snowbird has been very busy on weekends, but I post the following photo as evidence that you can still drive up to Snowbird at 830 am on a quiet Tuesday and park free, unreserved, 50 feet from a ski trail, Jan 23:

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This is a friend in a part of Snowbird called Wilbere Bowl, Jan 25, about 4" of new snow that day:

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Jan 27 at Snowbird was a fun day, I got to ski with friends and family:

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To be continued...

Crush
4 months ago
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,271 posts
XOXO! 
eggraid
4 months ago
Member since 02/9/2010 🔗
511 posts
Have a great trip! Monarch looks like it had great conditions. 
davwilley
4 months ago
Member since 12/28/2023 🔗
15 posts
Ohho You are having such great time!
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
jn_freedman
4 months ago
Member since 03/17/2018 🔗
25 posts

Jim,

I saw this picture on Guru Dave's website and was shocked on the current situation of a pre-rope drop at Snowbird.  Is it really that crowded these days?  Huge Snowbird fanboy but looks rough....

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It makes me appreciate my chill runs on FarSide on a Saturday morning at Whitetrail.....

JimK - DCSki Columnist
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

jn_freedman wrote:

Jim,

I saw this picture on Guru Dave's website and was shocked on the current situation of a pre-rope drop at Snowbird.  Is it really that crowded these days?  Huge Snowbird fanboy but looks rough....

1707156098_slbmixazdair.jpg

It makes me appreciate my chill runs on FarSide on a Saturday morning at Whitetrail.....

 JN, I want to say that photo is from a few years ago.  Not to say that crowds aren't sizeable at many Utah resorts, but there are some good strategies to avoid them or minimize the adverse effects.  Primary ones being, ski weekdays and get to the mtn 45-60 mins before the lifts start.

PS:  I always enjoyed FarSide trail too.  It has a little bit of character.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

I just finished an epic week of Utah skiing.  Some resorts in the Wasatch Mtns of Utah reported more than five feet of snow between Feb 2-9, 2024.  Friends visited during the week and I skied a variety of resorts with them in fabulous, stormy snow conditions.

2 Feb, Solitude, 4-6" new snow.  My friends took some photos of me this week and I'm including a few like this one.  You'll note, I'm better behind the camera, than in front.

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4 Feb, Snowbird, a beautiful day with one+ foot of new overnight snow.  This was the last sunny day until a weak sun peeked out late in the afternoon of the 9th. It was a max capacity day at the Bird, but we took what the mtn gave us.  Most of the crowds flocked to Mineral Basin leaving the frontside not too busy.

A friend on Pucker Brush slope in Little Cloud Bowl:

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Lower Tiger Tail full of snow.

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Me, late in the afternoon, heading down a not yet fully tracked out area called Bass Benches.

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Good times at Snowbird.

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5 Feb, Solitude, another stormy day.  We spent a lot of time in the trees around Headwall Forest.  Not many people.

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6 Feb, Deer Valley, 10" new snow.  A lady friend showed us around the mountain where she instructs.

The ceiling was fairly high early on, this view from top of Empire lift.

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Beautiful snow conditions.

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I went over to the Daly Bowl/Chutes area a couple times before visibility got low.  Scoping out the cornice above the Daly Chutes.  Guy in green is an instructor.

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Chute survivor.

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7 Feb, Alta, a truly epic storm day.  One to two feet of new snow all over the mountain.  AND lift lines were moderate to small.  They closed the LCC access road from 1-3 PM for plowing and avi mitigation, which chased away some early birds and blocked some late-nicks.

My son Vince going steep and deep.

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Again;  skiing dynamically on fat skis (124mm underfoot) while the snow was dumping.

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Blurry photo, but shows what a crazy day it was.

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I took a photo of this friend getting a belly shot in Catherine's Area.

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He obliged with one of me in same area.

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8 Feb, Brighton, by this point in the week I was getting pretty leg weary and took an easy day.  4" new overnight and maybe another 3" during the day.
 Beautiful, gentle intermittent snowfall. Cruising the tree lined runs is very nice at Brighton in such conditions.

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9 Feb, Solitude, another deep powder day with moderate crowds.  They dropped the rope to Honeycomb Canyon after a while and we had a ball in there.  Believe the hole in the mtn in this shot is an old mineshaft.

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Powder to the people.

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Subliminal message, top of Honeycomb return lift bullwheel looks like Pizza Bianco.

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So for lunch we enjoyed fresh baked pizza at the Stone Haus in Solitude Village.

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This photo of a friend on a fabulous powder Friday at Solitude proves the dream is still alive in UT: great snow and moderate weekday crowds.

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Wow, what a week!  Now I'm resting for a couple days.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

PS:  I bumped into @kemperski at Solitude on Feb 9.  Very nice guy.  First time I've met him.  He had two enthusiastic sons with him.  He's done some great writing/trip reports here and on skisoutheast.

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Brook
4 months ago (edited 4 months ago)
Member since 09/28/2010 🔗
58 posts

Our crew made it out to Utah for all the snow last week  also ! The surf was up ! Couple images from an unforgettable trip to Indy locations pow/mow   Beaver mtn   and Ikon  mtns.   Solitude /Brighton 1707669251_avhqxxuumptj.jpg1707669268_nbzfpinjebbk.jpg1707669285_bdtspbnwxxix.jpg

bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter 
4 months ago
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
780 posts

JimK,

😮 🤩 😯 All I can say is, Gawwwwwwwwd what gorgeous views, and what incredible snow!

Glad that conditions are turning out so well for you and that you've had several meetups on yet another epic trip west. Stay safe and have fun.

Woody

JimK - DCSki Columnist
3 months ago (edited 3 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

A few photos from the second half of February in Utah.  BTW, Snowbird is nearing its record for the most ever snowfall in the month of February.  It's been very snowy out here lately and there's more to come.

Feb 13 Snowbird, yours truly way out on the Cirque Traverse:

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Same day, a friend in the steep trees of STH at Snowbird:

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Feb 14 making the hike up to High Baldy Traverse at Snowbird:

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Same day/area, coming down:

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Same day, beautiful Mineral Basin at Snowbird:

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Feb 15 powder day at Solitude, UT:

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Feb 20, only about 4 or 5" but I got it untracked in the Bananas Trees at Snowbird:

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This is a Utah friend who's a fine telemarker, Feb 22, Solitude:

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Same fellow on Feb 23 on Middle Slope at Solitude:

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Feb 24 Mushroom Land at Snowbird, the entire base area can be seen below:

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Going to North Lake Tahoe soon for a week.  Will post more photos later.

Crush
3 months ago
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,271 posts

Sweet! I remember Daly Bowl/Chutes what was it Challenger I think with my fam El Jefe back in the day? OK not totally like under the tram at Snowbird but it's a short shot if you get into an oh $h1T moment just hang tough - bussin' ! See you soon were are going to get hit big in the NV but beige flag it will be Sierra Cement like track-y and ruh roh 1709080417_ycounprmkicf.jpg

JimK - DCSki Columnist
3 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts
The 27 Feb 2024 storm underproduced a little bit, but with 13 new inches of snow Snowbird reports that they passed 400 inches of snowfall for the season that day. Also, It's the third snowiest February in their history, with 137 inches of snow this month alone. That's 55 inches more than their average February and 43 inches above last February 2023. Next snow not expected until March 1, but could be a pretty big storm.:snowfight:
bob
3 months ago
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
757 posts
That storm is giving the Sierras up to 12 feet. Wanna buy a snorkel?
Crush
3 months ago (edited 3 months ago)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,271 posts

No influencer here - JimK and Vince hung out with us last evening and I can say they are total GOAT ! My fam was so fire and brought a ton of food/beer no cap! They skied Alpine Meadows yesterday and today Mt Rose Hwy is still closed between Incline Village and Mt Rose Ski Resort so they headed back to Alpine Meadows/Palisades today - smart.

They treated us to a great dinner at Big Water ( boujee warning - this town's nickname is "income village") delish and ruled.

Travesty I have to work today so I can't partake. 

JimK - DCSki Columnist
3 months ago (edited 3 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Crush is my Tahoe mentor!  Thanks buddy!

Couple quick pics, may post more later, but gotta unpack from ski trip and pack for Vegas trip ;-}

Moi at Palisades Tahoe, Olympic Valley side, bodacious place, 6 Mar 24:

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Entering Solitude glades at Diamond Peak, 7 Mar 24:

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Vince dropping into "Main" from the hike-to Palisades chutes at Olympic Valley, 6 Mar 24:

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Further down same chute:

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View of Lake Tahoe from Diamond Peak, you get this view for long stretches on some of the summit trails, spellbinding:

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Vince, Diamond Peak, gorgeous place, 8 Mar 24:

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PS: Scott, if you see this can you get a little more color in this photo, particularly the blue lake?  This is a video capture and some of the vibrancy got lost in the transfer.

One more from DP

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Scott - DCSki Editor
3 months ago
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,251 posts

JimK wrote:

...

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PS: Scott, if you see this can you get a little more color in this photo, particularly the blue lake?  This is a video capture and some of the vibrancy got lost in the transfer.


This is a pretty terrible Photoshop job, but I did make the lake bluer:

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Crush
3 months ago (edited 3 months ago)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,271 posts

Exactly - That is why we fell in love with it. GOAT! Spellbinding but don't get distracted by a snow covered mountain next to a sun-drenched lake and you slam B/C you were not paying attention 😁. CEO shot! That is in Solitude Canyon yeah lake is off to the sort of right. I need to get you a better camera it will be the J K ski tour fund on gofundme.

BTW you guys used up all of our toilet paper; we'll have to discuss 😛. Hot dog stuff you left us partially compensated. TY!

E & M - 

Crush
3 months ago (edited 3 months ago)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,271 posts

Off the top of Crystal lift I suspect - yep! Lookin' good!

 

JimK wrote:

One more from DP

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JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

After a great week in early March in Tahoe I spent several days in Las Vegas with my non-skiing wife and some friends from the East.  I spent about $500 on food and entertainment, $300 on three nights lodging (2 Vegas, 1 St. George), and $20 on gambling :-)

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Tickets for Carrie Underwood $41!

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She lit an SUV on fire during her hit song Before He Cheats.

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The Blue Man group was funny and surprising.

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Back at Snowbird March 16 and 17.  Hope to ski out here for another couple months. Just got new Intuition liners for my Daleboots.

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Denis - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,340 posts

Jim,

Great pictures of The Palisades.  Those chutes are among the most iconic runs anywhere.  Congratulations to you and Vince.  Before the recent name change anyone who skied them was accorded massive respect, even reverence.  My daughter and grandsons have earned that badge of honor as well.  Now, because the resort botched the choice of their new name, nobody knows what it means when somebody says they skied at palisades.  This dishonors history.  Tradition and history matter in skiing.  In my opinion the area once known as S**** is the greatest resort in America in quality and quantity of true expert terrain.  There are some 40 such runs accessible from the KT chair, another 20 from Headwall, plus Granite Chief, Silverado, plus Mainline Pocket, the Funnel, - - - .

I first skied S**** with my son 35 years ago.  In those days there were no trail names on the map, just lifts.  And no double Diamond ratings.  The old KT-22 fixed grip double with no safety bar had one suspension point between bottom and top, and at times was hundreds of feet above the rocks.  When the lift stopped or the wind gusted it was pretty exciting.  As we rode up the Siberia chair on the first day a fellow chair rider suddenly said, Oh my god, that guy just fell off that cliff.  It wasn’t a fall, it was one of the area’s great skiers honing their craft.  We saw it several more times in that week.  We were blown away, both by what we saw and by the fact that there was a place where you could challenge yourself like that for the price of a lift ticket.  Dozens of extreme ski films were made there by Warren Miller, Greg Stump, et.al.  earning  the area the nickname, “Squallywood”.  I learned the pedal hop turn by watching Scot Schmidt films over and over.  I still have not seen anyone else on film or real life with his grace, fluidity, style and ‘hang time’ in solving the gnarliest puzzles of unthinkable steep terrain.   Some will say that era has been surpassed but I don’t buy it.  Straight lining Alaskan faces is a different kind of thing, which I consider more than a little stupid.  

(I agree that the name needed to be changed, but disagree with the new name)

That’s my paean and my rant.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Great post Denis. 

More about my Tahoe visit, March 4-8, 2024, it was after that monster snow storm. It snowed 90", but skied more like 9" because the 100+ MPH winds compressed/consolidated the new snow. 

I had one day each at Sq--w (now known as Olympic Valley/OV) and Alpine Meadows about 12 years ago.  I tried to ski Alpine Meadows 2 days this visit but March 4 was windy, low viz and only two chairs running.  March 8 there was a massive power failure at Alpine Meadows 930AM so we bailed and went to Diamond Peak for a second day.  My Alpine Meadows days therefore got messed up.  I skied March 5 and 6 at Sq--w and 7 and 8 at Diamond Peak.

My 2 days this visit at Sq--w (OV) were really great.  I remembered the place as good, but this time I thought it was super great.  Tues and Wed at Olympic Valley were really good, full days. Love the burly and not so burly terrain on numerous upper mtn lifts such as Headwall, KT22, Siberia, Red Dog. I didn't even get to Oly Lady and Granite Ch, which I know are good from my last visit.   I now think I'd rate Palisades Tahoe as my favorite California ski area over Mammoth and Kirkwood, although I like both of those too.  And it would be in my top 20, possibly top 10. 

Me at Olympic Valley side of P/T.

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Vince is aware of the Squallywood legends and was the one to suggest we climb up and do the Palisades (I took an easier chute down called National).

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One of my fav runs at Olympic Valley was Chute 75, near top of KT-22 chair, background of this photo.

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Vince in Chute 75

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More from OV, scoping out more steeps, Lake Tahoe view in background

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Skied with this 84 year old at Diamond Peak

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JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

One surprise about the Salt Lake City area that mid-Atlantic folks might not realize if they've never been here is that down in the valley/city/suburbs the average winter/spring temperatures aren't that much different than Wash DC.  Perhaps more snow fall, but it melts quick.  Freezing pipes are almost unheard of, and there are plenty of mild days sprinkled thoughout winter and more so in spring, all while excellent skiing continues 5000 feet up at the ski resorts into May and sometimes beyond.

On 22 March 2024 I took a day off from skiing to do one of my favorite non-ski things in the area.  I went hiking and picnicking at Antelope Island State Park.  It's a 28,000 acre island surrounded by the Great Salt Lake about 40 mins northwest of downtown Salt Lake City. The Weather was sunny and 60 degs. You want to visit Antelope Island (AI) before late spring as tiny flying insects can be bad later. Saw swarms of them driving causeway to island, but none once there.

First stop inside the park was the parking lot for a one mile roundtrip hike to Buffalo Point. Pretty day not much wind, not too many visitors. This is near north end of the island.

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View west from top of Buffalo Pt. White Rock Bay looks almost tropical if not for snowy mtns in distance. "White Rock" is tiny rock in center of photo, just offshore. Some years it is not surrounded by water.  Even though it's 75 miles long, the Great Salt Lake never gets more than about 20 feet deep!

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Then I drove a few miles to the center of the island and did a three mile roundtrip hike to Dooly Knob, elev 5278'.  This hike involved about a 925' vertical climb.  Nearing the top of Dooly Knob.

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View east towards Ogden from top of Dooly Knob, believe Snowbasin ski area is on other side of white mtns to left. My parking spot is below to lower right.  I climbed about the same vertical as Whitetail, PA :-)

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I've done a lot of hiking over the years in the lush forests of Shenandoah National Park, VA.  It's kind of fun to do some in a more arid, but also beautiful location like Antelope Island, UT.  Maybe just not in mid-summer :-)

swoop
2 months ago
Member since 11/30/2017 🔗
66 posts

Hey Jim,

Thanks for continuing to share great experiences and pics.

Will be at The Bird 4/11-4/13 with my son, would love to share some turns with you/Vince if your around!

Swoop!

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

swoop wrote:

Hey Jim,

Thanks for continuing to share great experiences and pics.

Will be at The Bird 4/11-4/13 with my son, would love to share some turns with you/Vince if your around!

Swoop!

 Sounds good.  I'll send you a PM.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Have you hugged a Telemarker today :-)

Any of you guys telemarkers? I'm not, but sometimes I ski with a real good one here in Utah.  Here are a few photos of him from 6 Apr 2024 at Solitude, UT.

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Nice powder day at Solitude, UT today, 6 Apr 2024. Since approx 24 March 2024 the Cottonwoods have had about a dozen winter snow days (including maybe 60" new snow) and only about two spring ski days. And BTW this very athletic skier is pushing age 70.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago (edited 4 days ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Filling in a gap in the chronology of this thread...skiing has been really excellent in UT over the last few weeks.

There was a bit of dry sunny period in mid-March, this is a scratchy entrance I use sometimes to get into Great Scott at Snowbird, including on 19 March 2024:

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Same day many hotshots (not me) did the big hike up to ski Pipeline Chute, (center) above Little Cloud Bowl:

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Close up of the top of Pipeline, those folks at top had to ski a short distance, then take off their skis and climb through a notch in the rocks, then ski down the long white chute to right:

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Starting on 23 Mar 2024 the sun made itself scarce and conditions have been mostly snowy ever since.  23 march snowy as heck at Snowbird Gad 2 lift:

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24 March another pow day at Snowbird

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26 March JohnL in Snake Pit Gully at Snowbird:

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29 March skied Eye of the Needle (left) at Snowbird:

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30 March trees-pow off the hook at Brighton, UT:

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31 Mar the trees near Gad 2 chair at Snowbird

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31 moi after a good run in Thunder Bowl, Snowbird:

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Saw the sun again on 2 April:

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More powder on 6 Apr, lady charger at Solitude, UT:

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and a repost of a fav photo from same day 6 Apr 2024:

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Between 23 Mar and today (7 Apr) I'd guess the Cottonwood Canyons have received about 60-70" of snow and 90% of the ski days have featured powdery, winter-type snow.  However, spring/warmer ski days appear to be coming this week.  That's ok too.  April is a great time to ski in Utah, low crowds, plenty of snow, and usually friendly weather/temps.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Did something different today for Eclipse Day, 8 Apr 2024, went up to Solitude, UT for snowshoeing and partying.

This is what the eclipse looked like at peak totality in UT (~50%) at 12:30 pm MDT, not too different from a normal day?

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Here's what it looked like with a filter.

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Then we went snowshoeing with a happy crew, starting at Solitude Village.

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Early in the 90 minute trek, entering the beautiful Redman Campground area.  This is lookers left of the base of the Solitude ski trail layout.  Still a 6+ foot deep snowpack in this area.

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The white mountainside above in this photo is the far edge of the Great Western terrain at Brighton ski area.

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Mr and Mrs Jim K.

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Post trek thirst quencher, with Solitude's Sunrise chairlift rising in the center-background.

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Denis - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,340 posts
Nice Jim.   I love that terrain.  My footprints and ski tracks are there too, likewise Antelope island and American Fork canyon.  I couldn’t ski downhill every day and sometimes needed to change it up, rest completely, go cross country, or do laundry.  Solitude cross country center is (paradoxically) in the far corner of the Brighton parking lot.  From there you have a modest sized very pretty set of trails.  At the end of the day a mild downhill trail of about a mile down to the Solitude base.  It ends at the door of a little pizza and beer place, where after suitable refreshment you can catch a shuttle van back to your car at Brighton.  
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,578 posts

Great spring skiing at Breckenridge.1712688676_xszobdokrkdv.jpg

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

snowsmith wrote:

Great spring skiing at Breckenridge.1712688676_xszobdokrkdv.jpg

 Looks crystal clear.
1712713063_ayqmqbznvgcw.jpg

racerx
2 months ago
Member since 04/10/2024 🔗
5 posts

 I see JohnL finally ditched the Pocket Rockets hee hee!

JimK wrote:

Filling in a gap in the chronology of this thread...skiing has been really excellent in UT over the last few weeks.

There was a bit of dry sunny period in mid-March, this is a scratchy entrance I use sometimes to get into Great Scott at Snowbird, including on 19 March 2024:

Same day many hotshots (not me) did the big hike up to ski Pipeline Chute, (center) above Little Cloud Bowl:

Close up of the top of Pipeline, those folks at top had to ski a short distance, then take of their skis and climb through a notch in the rocks, then ski down the long white chute to right:

Starting on 23 Mar 2024 the sun made itself scarce and conditions have been mostly snowy ever since.  23 march snowy as heck at Snowbird Gad 2 lift:

24 March another pow day at Snowbird

26 March JohnL in Snake Pit Gully at Snowbird:

1712505496_iozdqwflkjtb.jpg

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,578 posts

An unexpected powder day at Copper Mtn today.1712803395_ajwkpkyhpmkh.jpg

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Utah update -

29 Mar 2024

Eye of the Needle chute in Peruvian Gulch at Snowbird:

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30 Mar deep snow in the trees off Crest six pack chair at Brighton, UT.

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31 Mar deep snow under Gad 2 lift line at Snowbird.

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2 Apr Silver Fox skied well at Snowbird.

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JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

10 Apr 2024 the Cirque at Snowbird still full of snow.

1713236789_qmuexvuueizm.jpgSame day, Mineral Basin view.

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12 Apr 2024
Snowbird, got into Great Scott today. The entrance via Rats Nest was scratchy.

My friend Steve (Swoop) from VA handled it well.

1713236928_afsricspblwm.jpgSame day, beautiful spring skiing.

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15 Apr flags flying at Brighton, Ut

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marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
3,263 posts

Jim: sorry we didn't get to do a run together after seeing each other at Snowbird the other day.  The frontside was fun for me even with only the Tram and Peruvian open.  Haven't skied the lower Peruvian Gulch much.

Today Mineral Basin groomers were good from 9:30 to 11:00 when I went back to Alta.  Supreme terrain in the afternoon in included corn snow on a few trails.  Cabin Hill was quite fun.

April 19 will be my last ski of this season.  It's been a good one.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

marzNC wrote:

Jim: sorry we didn't get to do a run together after seeing each other at Snowbird the other day.  The frontside was fun for me even with only the Tram and Peruvian open.  Haven't skied the lower Peruvian Gulch much.

Today Mineral Basin groomers were good from 9:30 to 11:00 when I went back to Alta.  Supreme terrain in the afternoon in included corn snow on a few trails.  Cabin Hill was quite fun.

April 19 will be my last ski of this season.  It's been a good one.

 Hi MarzNC, good to see you last Wednesday at Snowbird.  Hope you have a good and safe off season. 

I got to unexpectedly ski Alta today 21 Apr 2024 for only the second time this season (1st time was a great powder day in feb).  It was their closing day and a large and festive crowd turned out.  Magnificent weather, 60 degs on the mtn.  Snow pretty good until early afternoon, then heavier, but that's when we started grilling and partying.

Wildcat lot at Alta full of partiers at 9am
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PS:  on 19 apr at Solitude I met another random Univ of MD alum.  I've seen about 5 people this winter in UT wearing one of these State Flag of Maryland helmets.  Apparently they are sold out here at REI for $50.  Might have to get one :-)

1713747828_aucpxmhuafky.jpg

JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

22 April 2024 at Solitude, one of several beautiful spring ski days this April in UT.

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27 April Snowbird, there was some good skiing

1714418384_dmxhyiraisuq.jpg1714418397_pqaeqidbkvsp.jpgand not so good due to foggy/misty spring weather

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28 April was a fun day spent with friends including my last day with buddy JohnL from VA.  We started at Snowbird and a trip through the Peruvian tunnel.

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But the conditions were not too friendly, low viz and firm surfaces.  So after 90 mins we drove 40 mins to Solitude, thus skiing Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons in the same day.

1714418841_sldevypizltr.jpg1714418854_aygvnplitbjy.jpgStill quite a bit of snow on the mountains and in Solitude Village.

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I equalled my all-time season high in ski days (64) on the 28th of April.  I've got two more weeks in UT.  Nursing a bit of a sore back right now, but hope to log enough days to match my age before I'm done out here and return to VA.

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JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Wow, Cinco de Mayo comes in with a snow storm.  Three inches or more in the Salt Lake Valley.  I did not ski today because reports and webcams made it look like a sloppy six inches and low visibility at Snowbird.  However, tonight it's going down to 20 degs up there with 6-10 more inches, then a high of 30 tomorrow with 10 to 14 more inches.  Good grief, that sounds like a serious powder day!  This could be the biggest May dump I've experienced out here in the last six years.  If I make it up to Snowbird tomorrow I'll report back.

Here's the view in the Salt Lake Valley at about 3 pm today (5May2024), blooming trees covered in snow (it was 75 degs here on May 4th):

1714957550_beckzzegzdgg.jpg

JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

Very special Seis de Mayo at Snowbird!  21" powder day, heck of a morning, still dumping, tomorrow's gonna be even better. Only Peruvian Chair (2,500' vertical) ran due to storm. Big crowd, but not that big, worst line wait maybe 10-15 mins.

9AM lift line at Peruvian Chair, not too bad, but it grew 3-4X.

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last run through hot foot gully

1715027888_snydmijblwtc.jpgbiggest late spring dump i've experienced out here!  another foot+ coming today/tonight.

racerx
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 04/10/2024 🔗
5 posts
Niccce! same here where ever i might be - so wond-re-ful since you don't know who I am. Keep it going fam! Wearing a snorkel in the lasts pic? Wow old-school!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

racerx wrote:

Niccce! same here where ever i might be - so wond-re-ful since you don't know who I am. Keep it going fam! Wearing a snorkel in the lasts pic? Wow old-school!

 You are right about the snorkel.  I didn't notice it when the guy skied by me, but sure looks like one in the photo:-)

jn_freedman
one month ago
Member since 03/17/2018 🔗
25 posts

Jim,

I realize you don't have a crystal ball but my son and I were trying to get to Snowbird, the weekend of June 7th.  Any buzz on if they'll stay open past Memorial Day?

Thanks!

JNF

JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

jn_freedman wrote:

Jim,

I realize you don't have a crystal ball but my son and I were trying to get to Snowbird, the weekend of June 7th.  Any buzz on if they'll stay open past Memorial Day?

Thanks!

JNF

kind of depends on weather, we've had cool mtn temps all spring and now tons of fresh snow.  im going up into another blizzard day momentarily. 50-50 chance they extend for a few weekends past memorial dAY.  mtn in far better shape now than last may despite all last years snow.  it was hot last apr -may.

 

JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

7 May 2024, another very snowy day at Snowbird, UT.

Vince:

1715113569_mjguclkoxkke.jpgAt last count, 29" in last 48 hrs.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
3,263 posts

jn_freedman wrote:

Jim,

I realize you don't have a crystal ball but my son and I were trying to get to Snowbird, the weekend of June 7th.  Any buzz on if they'll stay open past Memorial Day?

Thanks!

JNF

 I don't normally follow LCC weather that closely after Alta closes in late April.  I finished up my annual trip there on April 20 this year.  That said, given all the construction happening in the Gad Valley already limiting the lifts that can be open, I'll be surprised if Snowbird stays open past Memorial Day weekend.  After May 12, the schedule goes to weekends only.  Meaning Sat-Sun, 8am-2pm.

The daytime temps in LCC will be back in the 40s in a few days.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

11 May 2024 was special for me at Snowbird, UT.  Besides enjoying good times with good friends and good snow, this was my 70th and last ski day of the season. My wife and I drive east on Monday. 70 is a PR for ski days in a season. It also matches my age. Kinda like that symmetry!
Hope you all have a safe and prosperous off season.  Rinse and repeat next year, God willing!

Mineral Basin skied great down numerous friendly routes.

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Very picturesque day all around the hill.
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Got into Great Scott.  It skied like March 11th.  Easy entrance and loaded with chalky snow.
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
25 days ago (edited 21 days ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

My wife and I just completed a 9-day road trip in mid-May 2024 from Utah to Virginia.  We traveled about 3000 miles and wandered around scenic sections of UT, NM and CO before crossing the Great Plains and the Mid-West.  There was one hiccup, but it was mostly a great trip with beautiful weather and light to moderate crowds at points of interest every where we went.  I took a bunch of photos, so naturally, I have to share some :-)

May 13, Monday:  drove four hours from Salt Lake City area to Arches National Park in UT.  About 30 miles from Arches a warning light went on in my 2014 Subaru Outback, AT Oil Temp.  By the time I got to Arches the Check Engine and Brake lights were also on.  My dashboard looked like a blinking video game!  Undeterred, we enjoyed a couple hours at Arches.  

photos

Kathy, North Windows Arch

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Jim, Turret Arch

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This is called Double Arch.  Vocal sounds here echoed like a cathedral, also reminded me of the Pantheon in Rome. 

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It's nearly impossible to take an uninteresting photo at Arches NP, La Sal Mtns in background.

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Choo choo near Moab, UT

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Before we left Arches I consulted the Outback Owner's Manual.  This was a major travel hiccup!  Based on the blinking lights and a stern cautionary statement in the manual we jettisoned our planned route (towards Monument Valley) and drove two hours straight to the nearest Subaru dealer in Grand Junction, CO.  The dealer was closed by then, but we scheduled a service appointment online for the next morning and stayed in a motel one block away. 

May 14, Tuesday, In the morning they diagnosed the problem(s), the primary issue was the need for a new automatic transmission valve body.  We also needed to fix a rear wheel bearing and some other stuff.  This was a fairly significant amount of work.  They said the repairs could be made in one day and gave us a free loaner car, a loaded 2024 Subaru Crosstrek.  We used the Crosstrek to visit a lively Main Street area in downtown Grand Junction and drive up to the nearby Colorado National Monument.  This "Monument" features the Rim Rock scenic drive.  It's 23 miles long and is kind of like a red rocks version of Virginia's Skyline Drive.  Rim Rock Drive climbs 2000 vertical feet from a valley floor of about 4700' to it's highest point about 6700'.

Crosstrek and Colorado National Monument drive

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Rim Rock Drive is on the ledge between upper and lower rock face in this section of roadway!

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Scenic and a bit sketchy.  See what I mean?!?

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One more from Colorado National Monument/Rim Rock Drive.

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At 4PM on the 14th we picked up our Outback.  Repair bill $2800.  Ouch, but the car has 160k miles and has generally been reliable (especially in winter time) and fairly economical to keep.  

Meanwhile, we hatched a new route for the next 24 hours.  We drove 100 miles to Ouray, CO and spent the night in historic Hotel Ouray.  The old Outback ran well, and good thing, because the next day we had big plans!

Warm welcome at historic Hotel Ouray (circa 1896).

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Evening in Ouray, CO.

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Hotel Ouray interior.  May is a great time to travel the USA.  Crowds are low and weather is mild.  There was one other couple in the hotel on the night of our stay.

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May 15, Wednesday, the serendipity of an unexpected car repair detour set us up for a fantastic drive on US Route 550, the Million Dollar Highway, on May 15th.  The weather was great and the road mostly empty.  Boom, within two or three miles of leaving south from Ouray we came to a scenic pullover that featured not one, but two spectacular waterfalls, one across the valley, one directly under our feet!

Cascade Falls outside Ouray, CO, ~270' tall.

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Same spot, but pivoting slightly and under our feet, the very high volume, 200' Bear Creek Falls.

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Typical scenic view driving along the Million Dollar Highway.  Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel!  Lots of snow still in the high Rockies on May 15th.

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Molas Lake, elevation ~10,500', approx 25 miles south of Ouray.

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Passing by Purgatory ski area, closed for the summer.

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There was an interesting surprise around every bend of this drive.  This is the bizarre Pinkerton hot spring, bubbling away just off the roadway.

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After driving about 75 miles from Ouray to Durango, CO on dramatic US 550 we headed east on US 160 towards Pagosa Springs.  This was slightly mellower geography, beautiful pine-covered hills with the high Rockies in the background.  On the way we came upon Chimney Rock National Monument (not to be confused with Chimney Rock, NC) just a couple miles off the highway.  It's a beautiful rock formation that was considered sacred ground 1000 years ago by the Pueblo Indians.  By now I'd learned national monuments rank just slightly below national parks as points of high interest.  So we made a spontaneous detour to Chimney Rock and its three year old visitor center.  Very coincidentally, this was the first day Chimney Rock was open for the 2024 season.

Chimney Rock includes two large rock pinnacles reaching an elevation of about 7,800'.  We drove up to the Upper Mesa parking lot in beautiful 72 degree weather and enjoyed one of many picnics we had on the trip.  From the Upper Mesa lot I climbed the 1/3rd mile Great House Trail. 

At the top of the trail there are views of the stunning Companion (left) and Chimney (right) Rocks.

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From the same spot, looking in the other direction, like a mini Machu Picchu, there was the Pueblo Indian ruins of the 35-room Great House. The Great House is at 7,600 feet elevation.

1716420946_wcntboklwczv.jpg

Apparently, every 18 years the moon aligns and rises between the two rocks from the site of the Great House.  A thousand years ago the Indians thought this was significant enough to go to extreme lengths to construct a large gathering structure at a remote and high elevation location for observing the phenomenon.

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Still May 15, we completed our approx 250 mile day when we arrived at the remote Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert in northern NM around 6pm.  It's 75 miles north of Santa Fe and down 13 miles of dirt road off US 84.

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The beautiful chapel.

1716422407_egpwghkhbrus.jpg


to be continued...

JimK - DCSki Columnist
24 days ago (edited 24 days ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

May 16, Thursday, a visit to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert was the only preplanned part of our trip.  We reserved a basic room for two nights about two weeks before our travel.  We were glad our car problem was resolved in time to make our dates.  We had visited this spot for a few hours last year and resolved to come back for a longer stay of rest and contemplation.  The dozen or so Monks that live in this remote spot supplement their income by hosting visiting retreatants and offering about a dozen guest rooms.  They also fed us three simple meals per day, including one in silence with the Monks. 

It's pretty stressful each time we gear up for our winter migration, to or from UT.  There's a lot of preparation, cleaning, and tying up loose ends.  We knew a stay at the Monastery would be good for us.  The setting of the Monastery is almost painfully beautiful, beside the Chama River and beneath some rugged cliffs.  It's a peaceful place to enjoy nature and recover your sanity.

Our room was on the second story of this guest building.

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Chama River view.

1716473191_uznrjwrejpqx.jpg


Chapel interior.  We joined the Monks here numerous times during our visit.  It's the one place we heard all of them sing and pray out loud.   The prayer intentions they vocalize reflect a deep concern about the outside world.

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Monastery grounds.

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to be continued...

JimK - DCSki Columnist
22 days ago (edited 21 days ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

May 17, Friday, Like much of the day before, the route today was going to be totally new for us.  Leaving the Monastery we headed north across the NM-CO border on SR 17.  It paralleled a section of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR route through the bucolic southern San Juan mountains including Cumbres Pass, elevation 10,000+ feet.

May is very quiet in the San Juans.

1716646429_qwanklbbljwx.jpg

Next we entered the San Luis Valley, CO.  Never been before, 120 x 75 miles, huge!  It almost looks like a basin, rather than a valley, and seemingly surrounded by snowy 14ers.  In fact, the northern end does not drain.  It's endorheic, water collects there and evaporates.  Sand collects there too, and that's where we visited Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Great Sand Dunes NP features a sand dune area that is 30 square miles and has a vertical of 750'.  It's like a small mountain range of sand the winds have blown over the eons into a big pile in the corner of the valley.  It dwarfs the dunes at Kitty Hawk, NC.

1716646837_plrhnmtpzkad.jpg

A warm, shallow creek flowed beside the dunes.  Hundreds of folks were playing there and wading in the 75-80 degree water, about the same as the air temp.  It was like the beach, except 1000 miles from the nearest ocean.

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Others were heading to the dunes for some sand surfing.  I thought about going up, but it would take an hour or more and we had more miles to log.

1716647157_rtceeaprjyhb.jpg

After a picnic and a stroll around Great Sand Dunes NP we visited nearby Zapata Falls.  It was a bizarre transition from the desert sands.  It gushes through a tall slot canyon and was still partially frozen.

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After the sand and waterfall we drove a couple hours further north and spent the night in the pretty little mountain town of Salida, CO.  It's about 20 miles east of Monarch Ski Area and has a pleasant downtown area of restaurants, stores, and parks set beside the headwaters of the Arkansas River, which flows 1500 miles before joining the Mississippi River.

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Riverside dining. 

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Spillway surfers.

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to be continued...

JimK - DCSki Columnist
21 days ago (edited 4 days ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts

May 18, Saturday, we traveled about 500 miles this day from deep in the Rockies (Salida, CO) to the wide open Great Plains of Hays, KS.

We took the scenic route north on US 24.  This is a view of Mt. Elbert (right center), elevation 14,433', tallest peak in CO.  Kinda neat to see this on our last day in the Rockies.

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Further north we made a quick pass through Leadville, CO, elev 10,158', highest incorporated city in the US.

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Next we passed the Climax Molybdenum Mine.  Molybdenum is a metal used to strengthen steel.  This is one of the world's greatest sources of it and the mine straddles the Continental Divide at an elevation of 11,360.

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Nearby mine tailings ponds, still very snowy at this elevation.

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Obligatory shot of the Copper Mountain Ski Area base.  It closed for the ski season just six days earlier.

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Before we left the mountains we visited the beautiful Mother Cabrini Shrine west of Golden, CO.  This is the interior of the Shrine's chapel.

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The shrine property was used as a summer camp for the children of an orphanage Mother Cabrini founded in Denver.  This house was completed in 1914 and was used by the girls from the orphanage.

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The grounds of the Mother Cabrini Shrine provide sweeping views of the Denver area and gave us a preview of our route east on I70 across the prairies.
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We finished the day in a motel off I70 out on the prairie in the small town of Hays, KS.  We were done with the big mountain scenery, but still had some nice experiences ahead.

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May 19, Sunday, this morning we attended services in a very crowded church in Hays, KS before taking to the highway to St. Louis.  Love those God-fearing Kansans.  Hays (population 21K) seemed like a real wholesome place. 

Took a lot of snow plow photos earlier this winter.  Here's the kind of plows we saw in May in Kansas.

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Kansas City is built on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers.

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May 20, Monday, we traveled from the St. Louis area to Columbus, OH this day. 

View of Indianapolis Colts football stadium from I70.

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We had a nice experience with the Drury hotel chain on this trip. It's a family owned chain with about 150 hotels primarily in the mid-West. Nice, affordable, and well run properties.  We stayed in one in the St Louis area on May 19 for $103 on Priceline, before taxes. As I was walking from the elaborate breakfast bar the morning after our stay I remembered something and went up to the front desk clerk and told her "no big deal, but someone should check on a small smoke detector light that kept blinking all night in the ceiling of our room." She apologized and asked for my name and room number. About an hour later as my wife and I were leaving the hotel to hit the road she called out to us. I came over and she handed me a voucher for a free stay in the future. Wow, I didn't even ask for it.

The next night (May 20) we stayed for free in another nice Drury hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio.  It was not far from a famous German restaurant (The Schmidt's Sausage Haus) where we enjoyed a tasty dinner.  I guess the nice gesture of a free voucher worked it's magic because I'm sharing here about my favorable impression of Drury Hotels  :-)

Schmidt's Sausage Haus Restaurant in Columbus, OH was one of the more memorable dining spots we hit on the trip.

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We took home some 1/2 pound cream puffs and Bahama Mama Sausages.

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Last night on the road, Columbus, OH.

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May 21, Tuesday, fairly easy drive home today, about 6.5 hours.  Nearing home, pretty farm in PA, not too far from Seven Springs actually.

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First order of business upon reentering our house after four months, fix a running toilet :-)

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Thanks for following along.  Hope everyone has a nice summer!

PS:  bonus shot of our repaired 2014 Subaru Outback, dark grey.

1716691009_febolcfjplhy.jpg

 


pagamony - DCSki Supporter 
17 days ago
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
928 posts
Hey Jim.  Great report as usual and super great meeting you in Tahoe.  No comment on the 9 ft of snow or the power outages!  You have a nice way of making the trip reports consistently interesting.  Sometime on that route home consider going by Scott Lake State Park in western Kansas, about 2 hours before Hayes, looks more like the Badlands.  Good luck for the off season.   
JimK - DCSki Columnist
14 days ago (edited 14 days ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts


 Thanks for tip on Kansas state park Pagamony!  Best wishes to you and family!.

pagamony wrote:

Hey Jim.  Great report as usual and super great meeting you in Tahoe.  No comment on the 9 ft of snow or the power outages!  You have a nice way of making the trip reports consistently interesting.  Sometime on that route home consider going by Scott Lake State Park in western Kansas, about 2 hours before Hayes, looks more like the Badlands.  Good luck for the off season.   

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Jim's ski days in the 2023-24 ski season:

The most notable statistic for me this season is that my ski days matched my age in years. I'm 70 years old and I skied 70 total days, 69 lift-served and 1 skinning. I don't believe I'd skied my age since my 30s. Although I had a few skiing-induced aches and pains this season I was fortunate that no ailments kept me off the slopes for extended periods. My first ski day of the winter was December 8, 2023 at Massanutten Resort, VA. My last day was May 11, 2024 at Snowbird, UT. Doing the math, I skied ~45% of days during that five month period. I didn't set out to ski 70 days, but I have skied 60+ the last two seasons, so reaching 70 was not too big of a stretch over my recent pattern. I don't aspire to ski 71 days next season, I'll just let things unfold organically and be grateful for anything I get.

I have a Snowbird senior season pass and an Ikon base pass. I live near Washington DC, but I spend the bulk of my ski season in Utah staying at my son's house. As in recent years, I stayed in Utah from mid-January to mid-May 2024. In late April of 2024 my wife and I arbitrarily decided to finish my skiing and plan on leaving Utah on May 13, this date coincided with the termination of weekday skiing at Snowbird. By late April I had skied 63 days and that's when I began to think about trying to ski 70 days before I called it a season.

Ski areas and days at each:
Massanutten, VA - 4 days, Monarch, CO - 2 days, Copper Mountain, CO - 2 days, Snowbird, UT - 40 days, Deer Valley, UT - 1 day, Solitude, UT - 9 days, Alta, UT - 2 days, Brighton, UT - 2 days, Palisades Tahoe/Alpine Meadows, CA - 1 day, Palisades Tahoe/Olympic Valley, CA - 2 days, Diamond Peak, NV - 2 days, Solitude-Brighton combo - 1 day, Snowbird-Solitude combo - 1 day, skinning in LCC, UT - 1 day.

By month: Dec - 3, Jan - 12, Feb - 19, Mar - 17, Apr - 13, May - 6

Other tidbits:
- I enjoyed six free ski days this season at ski areas where age-70 skis free, four at Massanutten, VA and two at Monarch, CO. This was the first time I'd taken advantage of age-related free skiing.
- Dividing my pass fees by all my ski days, including freebies, it cost me roughly $18.80 per day to ski.
- I don't really keep close track of "powder" days, but I noted nine days on my winter calendar as exceptional powder days. My guesstimate is that these were days with ~8-18" new snow. I experienced an 18" day at Alta, UT on February 7th. I experienced another day close to 18" at Snowbird on May 6th! The early May storm dropped ~three feet at Snowbird from May 5-7. This was the biggest snowfall I'd seen that late in the season in the last six years of my skiing Utah in the month of May (I did some skinning in May of 2020).
- I ski a lot of partial days in Utah, going for quality over quantity. It's a wonderful perk as a result of living 20 mins from AltaBird and SolBright. I like that the mountain is my gym! There were two exceptionally short days when I only skied two runs; one day because of crowds and one day to attend an urgent off-slope matter.
- The day I went skinning skiing (March 28) entailed only a small amount of vertical ascent/descent, but included a rugged four hours of on-snow avalanche training exercises (beacon searches and pit digging) with my son in cool temps and heavy snowfall.

Dec 21 at Massanutten, VA, first day of ski operations for their new Peak Express quad chairlift.

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Took this photo on Jan 14 at Monarch:

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My son on Feb 7 at Alta:

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March 7 at Diamond Peak, NV, I skied with this hard-charging 84 year old.

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A friend on April 6 at Solitude. This guy's only a few months younger than me, he's a great tele-skier!

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A friend took this photo of me on May 6 at Snowbird.

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No more thinking snow for a few months :-)

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