After a stressful week of hour-long drives to sign papers, life finally paused long enough for Amigoette and I to grab a quick trip to the mountain. With clear morning skies and a forecast of a sunny day, we thought we had lucked out with a beautiful day to grab the holiday crowd’s leftovers. Not so fast said god as he rolled back the weather into one of the weirdest dark cloud patterns I’ve seen.

The New Year’s Day crowd musta really partied for New Year’ Eve as the slopes (and drive up) was barely inhabited for our morning runs. But later…… What we thought would be a sunny day looked like a really bad bruise. Deep, dark blue/black and cold. We couldn’t read the Frontside snow from the chair, so opted for a Valley-Berg starter. Nice packed pow bumps in the Valley led to a smooth, firm, but carvable Iceberg. Each turn wiped the carvable stuff off The Berg exposing the ever popular rain-ice Iceberg is known for. There was a fine line between smooth packed pow bumps and crispy not-skied-enough junk. We learned that lesson on Memorial. Luckyshot remained fast and carvable till late morning as the party night crowd finally arrived to clog up its skidded crust.

Actually, this is a color image

Actually, this is a color image

Valley Bowl delivered all day on the north facing bumps. Grubstake was a hoot and was the only run that really got the blood pumping. C-3 Chairline remained soft and malleable to a firmly controlled ski. One T2B out The Gap alternated soft packed-powder bumps - Green Valley, crunchy lumps - Sluiceway, soft bumps - Berry Patch, smooth very icy bumps - Lower E. So, Valley Bowl, C-3 Chairline, Grubstake, interspersed with some who-know-where-they’re-going bogey dodging on Luckyshot.

After dawn to dusk prep days for buying a new house, remodeling the old, and paperwork, we knew today would be a short interlude. Although, with nobody on the hill and 10 minute Rex round trips, we did pile in some runs in our short window. By late morning the hordes had arrived and the lodges were packed. As we drove away, there was a line of cars looking for parking spots and a thousand cars coming up 410 for a… What? 2:00 ski start? A tourist Gondola ride into the black fog? Who are these people?

The Moral of the Story -

When life gets busy, take every opportunity to get some fun, some exercise, and some focused steep, mind-altering snow. Sometimes the details can wait, sometimes they can’t and you need to take care of business, but sometimes they can. Getting out into the mountains, even in weirdly dark bruised skies, was a refreshing mind cleansing. Get it when you can and take what you get. It’ll be good for your brain.

Unfortunately, snow levels rise tomorrow as precipitation moves in thursday. Timing will tell whether it’s rain up the mountain or a big wet dump of base-building snow. Keep an eye on the weather, timing, and the january weekend crowds.

Ken