WORDS: Erme Catino
The kick and glide of the skin track soothes the soul and the snow cloaked pine trees are a sight that always makes me smile. A few wet inches at the bottom gradually begin to increase, as I get higher. Running into an acquaintance, Mark White, an observer for the Utah Avalanche Center, we team up as the next wave of graupel coats the creamy pow that fell this morning. It’s May 18.
Earlier that morning, the garden shovel pierced the soil in our garden. I promised my wife I would turn over the vegetable plot today, getting the garden ready for our seedlings. My wife, Anna, a ski bum at heart too, knew that nothing was going to happen in the garden until the home resort closed. What she didn’t know was we would end up with a great corn cycle, followed by a few down days in the middle of May… delaying our tomato crop even later this year.
We keep checking the town of Alta’s weather stations. They’re closed now, but the snow is adding up. Snowbird’s social media stream is spewing photos of dumping snow. It’s still morning, around 11:30am. I have time. We check the sites on my phone again, I dig faster. Snowbird’s snow cam shows eight, almost nine inches. That’s it. I’m out…
Zipping halfway across the High-T, the sun pokes out as we drop into the first run of creamy pow. The past few weeks went from corn, to slush, but I couldn’t help myself from continuing to go up because there was still snow and it was sunny.
Touring back up for the second lap, I think maybe this storm is a reward for those who can’t let go just yet. Hitting the ridge, Mark and I opt to look at the backside. It’s smooth and stable as long as you stay clear from the point releases near the rocks. The late day sun appearance protected the eastern aspect, preserving the snow. It’s good, real good—not super deep but fast, fun, and smooth and I let them run, arcing big turns down the gully.
The next day brings more of the same. Cloudy and snow showers with breaks of sun. Touring high ridge laps with first tracks down an east-facing slope, this time with Anna. She ditched the garden today—she too can’t stop skiing and won’t be complaining in September when our tomatoes are still green.