Report from April 26, 2022
I awoke at 7am today to cloudy skies, warm temperatures, and no inspiration.
I checked my phone and Martin mentioned skiing Kessler in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
I let him know that I was out due to the clouds.
At 8:15am, Martin called me.
“Guess what? Alta is open to uphill travel!”
I told him that they were most certainly were not and that I’d already checked it this morning.
He let me know that they announced they were open to uphill at 8am.
I checked the website, saw he was right, and told him I’d get ready as fast as I could.
I knew that 11,000′ Mt. Baldy’s “Little Chute” and “Main Chute” were in prime condition as I’d drooled over them on Alta’s closing day Sunday.
We pulled into an empty parking lot about 10am.
It didn’t appear that there were any other skiers there at all…
We slapped skis on our feet and started up in some of the grayist, flattest light imaginable.
I looked over my shoulder a few times, ready to vainly attempt to outpace the insanely fast skimo racer mobs of SLC.
But no one showed.
We never saw another skier.
There was no skin track up – we had to put it in.
To be putting in a skin track on Mt. Baldy at 11am was ludicrous…
Normally, there’d have been a track up before dawn and someone dropping in just as the sun crested the Earth’s mantle in the east.
We were the dawn patrol – albeit at mid-day.
This was my 13th hike up Mt. Baldy this season (7 from the lot, 6 from the top of the Sugarloaf chair).
After 2 months heli-skiing and living at sea level in Alaska – I wasn’t in my best uphill form…
Martin broke track the entire way.
As we approached the top, the skies started to clear and the sun came out.
Our luck just kept getting better.
It took us 2 hours and 8 minutes to hit the top and it was gorgeous up there.
Views of SLC, LCC, Snowbird, Pipeline Couloir, Pfiefferhorn, Coal Pit, Hypodermic Needle, Mt. Superior, everything…
We had a sip and a bite on top while discussing the chutes and snow.
Both Little and Main were untouched.
Main appeared to have better snow due to it having a little less east aspect to it and a taller skier’s right wall to protect it from the sun’s morning burn.
I dropped 1st.
I chose the skier’s left entrance on the wind spine as it always feels more committing and dramatic.
I was a bit nervous on top – as I always am above Little Chute.
The first 2 turns near the wind spine were OK.
I then cut into the chute proper and the snow was punchy, hooky, and rough.
I kept it together for about 5 turns before I punched in hard and nearly hit the wall.
I stopped, got myself together then charged the rest of the chute as hard as I could.
The going was tough but I found some rhythm, grunted my way down the elegant chute, through the final choke, and out onto the apron panting for air.
I was pretty stoked.
Late season “powder” off Mt. Baldy in damn-near May 72-hours after getting back from Alaska felt preposterous.
I cut over to Main Chute to have eyes on Martin and watched him absolutely shred the couloir in perfect rhythm.
We were fired up.
Everything had gone our way and it was simply bizarre to have Baldy to ourselves.
We looked up at our tracks in Little and Main and grinned.
From there we slid over to the main groomer and cruised down to the bottom.
It was lovely that Alta had groomed the whole run just that morning.
Other skiers were starting to show up now and skin up the groomer.
We kicked back in the parking lot and even I had a beer.
We joked, talked over the day, and caught up.
While splayed out in the back of the Jeep, I noticed a tractor that had been doing laps in the parking lot carrying chairs from a chairlift.
We investigated and found a crew taking the chairs off Sunnyside and stacking them neatly in the northwest corner of the lot.
We got some fun pics and found out that Sunnyside is headed to Red Lodge Mountain, MT.
The clouds came back in the wind picked up.
It was time to head home.