I was among those "stuck" in Utah in the first week of March. Things started a little sketchy - they hadn't had snow in a while, and the temps were warm. I think at Alta on Sunday, we had base temps (base of Collins lift) of 55 or so. Over the course of the week, it got into the upper 60's/lower 70's in town, but the mountains were spared most of the heat.
A friend (an Alta regular, grew up skiing there and now lives 20 minutes from the hill) recommended parking at the Wildcat base, and focusing on the lifts available from there. We did explore a bit (Supreme, Sugarloaf), but found ourselves coming back to the Collins lift, and particularly to Wildcat, as the crowds were smaller, and the terrain was in better shape. Conditions were "good" by east coast standards, but the locals at Alta were really sour on them. That's OK, because it meant more room for us!
(note the empty chairs on Wildcat)
(and the empty everything)
But it's clear that snow was needed:
Monday was Solitude, Round 1. We didn't have much idea what to expect, and were really, really happy with what we found. Conditions were much like at Alta, but there was NOBODY there. The snow was soft, and there was room to run. We went after our first black runs of the trip, down Challenger and Inspiration, and found them, well, challenging and inspiring. It was nice to get that under our belt, so we felt like we could handle ourselves on terrain that is steeper (and longer!) than anything we ski around here.
This is Jana enjoying a mellower run:
And me, later on the same one (I think):
There was one spot on the Summit chair that kept weirding me out. With the flat light and a BIG drop to the ground, for some reason, I kept getting disoriented. It wasn't quite vertigo, but it was spooky. It was much better later in the week with better light.
Our third day of skiing took us to Brighton, which I'd heard to be more of a snowboarders' hill (not that there's anything wrong with that...). Skiing there on a Tuesday, there was, once again, nobody there (a fact no doubt helped by the "lousy" skiing conditions).
The views from Brighton are among the best of what we saw on the trip:
And the narrower tree-lined trails reminded me somewhat of skiing in New England:
With nobody around (and nice soft, forgiving snow), we decided to try some bumps:
Which can be very, very tiring:
I got myself into a little bit of trouble skiing "Little Milly", but the pictures from there aren't very clear. Basically, the trail hadn't been groomed (much of the mountain had), and was really crusty. I kept finding myself in places were I couldn't turn (because my skis were stuck in a rut or otherwise locked into crusty stuff), and I found myself headed right towards a big rock, a big tree, or a big tree growing out of a big rock. It made for a slow process of choosing deliberate lines (occasionally backing up to find them) and just being very careful to head where I wanted to be. I need to head back there to get a second chance at it, under better conditions.
Wednesday, we took it easy, headed to Park City to see the Olypmic stuff, and generally acted like tourists. At the end of the day, we headed to Alta for the "Ski Free After Three" thing, did a few runs, and packed it in. It was cold and windy, and the conditions were (finally) no good (that was the day the Peruvian lift got stuck at Snowbird in the wind). If it had been our last day, we would have made it work somehow, but we figured we were better off giving our legs a rest...
...and it was a good thing we did, because Thursday brought 12" of Utah's magical snow. And, boy-howdy, if it's not exhausting to ski in that stuff (even moreso when it's your first time, and you don't really know how to handle it). We were at Solitude, and it was alarmingly empty.
(looks like I hit a picture limit... Continued below...)