A Farewell To Snow
by tommy kirchhoff
Sure, Snowbird’s still open, but skiing and boarding are off the radar screen.
Although it doesn’t really seem like we got that much more snow than last
year, we seem to have heard a lot fewer bellyaches about it. Hmmm…
The truth of the matter is the way one ends a season is almost as important
as the season itself. What will you take with you on that long journey through
the summer? What is your last popcorn kernel of skiing to savor while you
know you won’t taste it again until next fall?
Well, Clown Day is a good way to begin to kiss off the season. But if you
really want to do it right, you’ll need some sort of skis, and you’ll need
to be at the closing day for Alta.
I write about closing day at Alta with a beer in my hand; and it takes me
back. At Alta, the snow is almost always good. Sure, there’s a bit more attitude
there than most other ski resorts… in the world—which is considerable when
you shake your head at the attitude anywhere else—but Alta, sweet, sweet Alta
is the Way to say goodbye.
On April 22nd, the powder was fresh. That recent 60-inch dump left a terrific
base of Styrofoam for a new 8-10 of fresh to fall upon. That’s nice for some
mind-baked runs of bliss in the morning, but hey, let’s not work too hard
Tailgating starts around 10 a.m. Superheroes, ballerinas and chicks dressed
up as buffaloes really get going around noon. After lunch and what pours into
the afternoon is beer and other stuff. People get noisy. Things get rowdy.
Then around 3:30, droves begin to exodus up Germania. If I were to throw
an average at it, I’d say at least 3-6 beers per person make the trip.
Everybody knows that Alta’s olda thanya sista. Slow lifts, deep snow, and
traversing are what it’s all about. Well, just before closing, nobody’s thinking
about skiing. So they ride up slowly, then traverse.
High Russell (or HighBoy as the locals it) is the place. It’s a scant little
ridge above 2000 feet of vertical seriousness. On top, no one’s serious. Lighters
burn and pass. Beer and Jack Daniels pour without cups. Intoxication is rife
and people are dressed up like butterflies and cowboys.
At 4:20, the ski patrol informs the crowd of several hundred that the area
is officially closed for the season; then they ski away. Liability transferred.
Party on Wayne.
Sobriety is no longer common. But you’re at Alta. The wind is blowing a steady
40-mph and gusting around 60. It’s snowing hard, but the sun teases the crowd
with several small donuts of blue sky.
Hang out for a while. Have some laughs. Cause if you try to ski down, everyone
will throw snowballs at you.
Goodbye Snake Creek, Honeycomb and Thunder. Goodnight John Paul, Beaver and
Paradise. See ya next year Empire, Jupe and 9990. This kids got 2000 feet
of Germania to go. It ain’t flat, and I ain’t sober.