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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 here.

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.

Wild Utah



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