It was Mother's Day so it only seemed fitting to give my mom the Bird.
Well, it meant I went skiing while Karen picked up my mom and drove her up
to Snowbird - I met them for an opulent and decadent Mother's Day Brunch at
the Aerie Restaurant in the Cliff Lodge.

What a difference from the previous weekend. A week of intense sun and well
above normal temps does it's share of melting out the snowpack. The lower
500' of the mountain required some artsy linking of snowpatchs to avoid the
need to ski or walk across mud and gravel. Knowing the mountain well and
good route finding also helped immensely, since guessing wrong could
produce many hundreds of yards of walking.

Up high there were generally no such concerns, although things like
Hourglass chute now had mandatory air over newly exposed rock bands. There
was a huge brown patch and streak at the top of Regulator, and that
gradually increased in size over the day. Even getting to it from the tram
involved some delicacy through a patch of brown slush mixed with gravel.
Pretty much the entire rim of the cirque was melted out although most
everything in the cirque proper still held plenty of snow.

I decided to once again head out to Barry Barry Steep and the Wilbere
Chutes on the assumption that these would be harder to get to than the
prior Sunday. A correct assumption - parts of the traverse were getting
real gnarly and rapidly loosing snow. South Chute itself was still in good
shape, but more technical and distinctly narrower at the choke point. The
biggest problem was that once you hit the cat track at the end of the chute
(top of Big Emma green circle run), getting back to the tram required about
a 1/3 - 1/2 mile walk on the work road to the top of the Wilbere lift where
the snow resumed.

Overall I wasn't able to get that many runs in, but what I did do was
sublime. The required walking on some runs, the two hours of brunch plus
travel time between the tram and the Cliff Lodge (impossible to reach on
skis for several weeks), the tram on the spring 15 minute departure
schedule, and the last tram up for skiers at 3pm all conspired to make it a
fun quotient over quantity day. But that's what spring skiing is all about.
The highlights were the perfect corn on the upper mountain, especially
Silver Fox,  the fun technical aspects of South Chute, including getting
there, bashing around in the woods to get past melted out sections of
trail, and the rhythmic natural half-pipe of upper Dalton's. Even the walk
and chat with a boarder-grrrl heading down to the Wilbere lift was fun. Oh,
the brunch was beyond belief and at $29 / person, an excellent deal.

Only two days of lift served left. On Tuesday, Snowbird decided that this
Sunday, 5/16, will be the last day for the season. Too bad - I was looking
forward to the originally planed additional two weekends. Naturally, we
received about 9" of new snow Tue/Wed, but at this time of the year that
doesn't last long. Maybe I'll hike for something at Alta next weekend.

On a slightly related note, Alta has removed the chairs and cables from
both the Collins and Wildcat lifts in preparation for this summer's
construction. Also, a friend tells me that the Germania chairs, cables,
tower crowns, and a few of the towers are all stacked up in a parking lot
at....Brighton. Apparently there goes my dream of them reinstalling the
Germ lift on East Castle!  ;-)

Photos from Mom's day and, as threatened in a previous post, from the prior
two weekends, are at:
[that url *is* case sensitive - a unfortunate conflict between operating
systems, web tools, and my FTP software]

Alternatively, I do have a direct link to those as well as the closing day
at Alta on my home page:

If you're masochistic, you can use this one from since, after
all, bigger is better:!

[make sure to include the final Q== characters!]


Direct link to my weblog page:

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