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Todd wrote regarding Bush conditions:
>after about 2pm on friday the conditions did suck.  After this past
>weekend's crowd at South I'm sure every little bit of uncut snow is tracked,
>hacked and beaten to death by side slipping snowboards.

I guess it depends on how you define "suck". I was at MRG on opening day
Saturday (and ran into Todd in the basebox), SB North Sunday, and SB South
Monday and Tuesday.

Crowds:
really none to speak of. Yes, Sunday more so than Mon/Tue, but overall not
too bad. Elbow at SB North seemed crowded, but that was (and continues to
be) the only way down from the top of the high speed quad. We had heard
that South was somewhat zoo-like, but if all you are doing is
Jester/Grinder/Deathspout, I'd guess that was a possibility.

<GMVS rant>
The GMVS kids were out in full force with their instructors/coaches though,
and that really did up the annoyance factor as they really tend to take
over the mountain. I also consider it unsafe when you have that quantity of
10 - 16 year olds taking trail-width consuming turns at GS speeds on a
trail shared with the general public. As good as the kids are at a clean
carve, they don't have the judgement or experience to anticipate the often
erratic trajectories of the low-intermediate skier who finds Elbow a major
challenge. On a personal level, I don't appreciate being treated as a
moving gate on a GS course.
</rant>

<MRG rant>
We were on line for the single (only life running) at 8:55 on Saturday.
There were perhaps only a dozen people in front of us. There never was a
need to build a lift corral all day. My question is where were all the
ski-it-if-you-can, hard core, I'd-rather-not-ski-than-ski-on-man-made-snow,
grooming-hating, loyal, faithful, share-holders?
</rant>

Snowmaking trails:
Coverage is generally good, but there is the expected porcelain lurking
beneath. Elbow still wasn't too bad at 2p on Sunday. Mon/Tue were cooler,
so there was more hardpack, but you could still search out softer stuff in
the usual spots - anywhere but the center of Downspout, skiers far narrow
left on Grinder, etc. The Valley House Traverse and Lower Jester are
distinctly bony though, with high mineral content, like the lower 1/4 of MRG.

The drought and phase I depth of the snowmaking pond at South have taken
their toll however. Many trails that are traditionally blown are sporting
only a natural cover: Snowball, Spring Fling, Murphy's Glades, and
Birdland. What is also not open is surprising and attests to the lack of
water: Lower Grinder, Stein's, Ripcord, all of the Gatehouse Quad and North
Lynx terrain (neither lift is running nor is the SBX intertie).

Over at North, Inverness, Northstar, Rim Run below the top of Elbow, and
Upper FIS are all off-line.  Which Way and the Cliffs are both natural
cover and ungroomed.

Natural Cover:
Actually, pretty good - *if* you don't mind scraping grass/dirt/frozen moss
and hitting multiple rocks. They also aren't grooming the natural cover
trails. SB has a distinctly MRG feel to it right now. The big advantage is
the softness and lack of underlayment. Expect bumps, dirt, grass, rocks, on
Snowball, Spring Fling, Moonshine, Twist (only open to the intersection
with M-shine), Murphy's, Birdland, Domino below Jester, Spillsville/Lower
'Cord, Which  Way, Bravo (upper 1/3 only) and Encore.

As far as things being hacked by side slipping snowboards, they do provide
the beneficial effect of light grooming, filling in the troughs a bit.
Don't even think of untracked till the next storm. The woods are downright
dangerous (ask Ben's kidney for details!). I can't comment on today
(12/26), a traditional exponential increase in people, since I decided to
sleep in and take the day off.

So does it suck? It all depends on your point of view. I've had fun so far,
but it is a more challenging, obstacle avoiding skiing than is typical for SB.

Compared to my new locale........, well......, despite visiting family and
friends and if I hadn't bought the non-refundable air tix in August, in
retrospect, I'd probably have stayed in UT.......I do wish the 19 at home
were here as well.

-Marc

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