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Day 3, Solitude, 1" overnight

You might think that with only one inch overnight, this would not have been
a magnificent day.  But then I'd say you don't know Solitude.  Having
worked for Solitude my first year in UT, I know it extremely well, and knew
it would be stellar.

I arrived at Solitude with Rob W., my main partner-in-crime in SLC
throughout the '90s.  Rob is the kind of athlete who performs at top levels
in every sport he tries, no matter how long he's been on the couch:
climbing 5.12, boating class V, running and biking long distances, surfing
big waves.  This day he would be locking his heels down for the first time
since putting on leathers in the '80s.

 Text-message plans were made to meet the Baumans at the Powderhorn lift.
 Rob and I rode up the Eagle Express, planning to scoot quickly down to the
meeting spot.  But something I had expected to happen did happen, and we
never made it to the meeting spot.  The Gate of Navarone  had opened.
 Someone had gone right.  Rob and I went 10 yards left and dropped some six
or seven  hundred vertical feet without seeing another track.  We quickly
hopped on the Honeycomb Return lift and called Jim, apologized, informed
him that he needed to meet us at the top of Eagle Express and promised him
it would be worth it.  Rob and I bombed down  my favorite cruiser in the
world,Challenger, made all the much better when covered with lightly
tracked snow,  and then we headed up the Eagle Express to meet the Baumans.

Rob had expressed concern that he was taking a sick day off to ski  and
would be skiing with 3 young kids. I told him not to worry.  We met the
 Baumans, headed through the gate, went 20 yards farther left(our tracks
still being the only ones here) and told the Baumans to have at it.
 Another 700 verts of steep slope without seeing another track, this time
with the Baumans hooting all the way down.  Rob remarked that there would
be no way to lose a kid with all the hooting.

Next up was the Powderhorn gate.  One time left to Black Forest, one time
right to Here Be Dragons, both times to 700 verts of almost untouched
powder.

I'd heard on Monday that the boys had enjoyed some chutes that Guido had
shown them, so I decided to show them one of my favorites.  Parachute holds
a special place in my ski consciousness.  There are several choke points
that are no more than 2-3 ski widths wide, and 3/4 of the way down it makes
a 90 degree left turn. When I moved to Utah, I could only ski it with a lot
of sideslipping.  I worked on that run over and over until I could ski it
with style.  Today, it is so etched into my memory that I can picture every
turn in it even though it had been 5 years since I last skied it.  I gave
the Baumans instructions to follow the funnel down into the first choke
point, so that I didn't have to worry about the boys discovering any of the
many cliffs  littering that side of the mountain.  At the 90 degree turn,
one of the boys asked if it was possible to go straight.  Rob replied "You
can, but I wouldn't.  There's cliffs."  You can guess which way the Bauman
boys went.

From there we went up to the summit and traversed/hiked out to Buckeye
Junior in Honeycomb.  At this point Daniel had a little breakdown.  I don't
know if he was crying because he was cold or didn't want to hike, but Jim &
Kathleen said it was really caused by the fact that he refuses to eat
breakfast.  I pointed Kathleen and Daniel downhill sooner than the planned
destination and. figuring it best that they had someone who knew the
terrain with them, I went along.  And whaddya know, the three of us had
another 700 verts of untouched powder.

It was a bit past noon, and time to split up from the Baumans.  Rob and I
had some hiking plans up to a place I'd rather not name in a public forum.
 We did three runs.  On the first run we dropped the left side of the
ridge, a different aspect from what we'd skied all day,  and found the
lightest snow of the day.  I'd forgotten to put my neck gaiter up and found
myself choking in the type of snow ski magazines have taught us to
fantasize about.  Second run, we dropped the longer vertical on the right
side of the ridge.  Rob let me go first and the steep chute and lower bowl
gave me the run that I will dream about in August; the deep snow a
consistent platform for every perfect, rhythmic turn.   The third run, we
headed left a bit lower down the ridge, finding a chute that neither of us
had skied before, not knowing whether to delight more in yet another
stellar untracked run or in the fact that we were still coming upon new
finds in an area we knew so well.

By this point, it was clear that this was the best day of my year. It was
past 2:30, and I had to call it quits, knowing that Wednesday would be yet
another powder day and I wanted to have some energy left for it.

To be continued...

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