Monthly Archives: February 2008

Planes, Cars, and Avalanches

Day 1 – Wednesday, February 6, ’08

CIMG3016Earlier in the week, Corey had been anxiously following the weather in Chicago because a bad snowstorm was predicted for Wednesday, the same day that they were flying to Salt Lake City. I had it much easier, with it being light sweater weather in Baltimore, and I arrived at about 8:30 pm.  Ryan and Corey’s original flight was cancelled; they rebooked on United, which was then delayed, so they did not arrive in SLC until after 2:00 in the morning.

CIMG2994I thought of Wendy Osterling who had told me she lived near the airport, and texted her while still in Baltimore and to my delight she was available!  After arriving in SLC I drove the rental car to her house and we went out for a light meal and drinks, a welcome change from the airport environment.

Afterwards she went to bed as she had to work early the next day. I napped on her couch until CIMG2995Corey and Ryan texted that they were ready to be picked up.

We headed out to Snowbird, which is in Little Cottonwood Canyon, about 35 minutes from the airport. This canyon is notorious for its avalanches. And just as we thought our luck for the night had turned, we drove up to a roadblock and police cars with flashing lights. There had been a massive avalanche, the deputy said, which had come crashing down one side of the CIMG3049canyon and actually went back up the other side, and the road was closed until tomorrow and possibly beyond.

I think being too tired helped us conceal the extent of our disappointment. We drove back down the canyon, eventually settling for a hotel which offered a reasonable rate, and crashed for the night. Unfortunately, we ended up having to pay the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird for that night
that we never slept there, because we had CIMG3008declined their optional travel insurance policy. 

Day 2 – Thursday, February 7, ’08

That morning, we woke up and checked the weather report, thinking that we would probably go to Solitude or one of the other resorts around Salt Lake City.  Our luck had changed!  Little Cottonwood Canyon had just opened!  We packed up the car, stopped for breakfast and drive to our new digs at the Cliff CIMG3021Lodge, which is located at the base of Snowbird, right in front of the Peruvian Express lift.
After checking in, we hit the slopes.

There had been 7 inches of snow the previous night and it was mostly powder.  There were high winds, with the report said was 53 mph with 75 mph gusts (my brothers dispute that it really felt like that, but it was plenty cold).  The wind plus the blowing snow made visibility very hard, and we took a long time coming down the CIMG3024mountain those first few runs.

There were reports during the day of the canyon closing again, and the Snowbird employees were moaning and disgruntled to say the least.  In particular, one lift operator abandoned his post, leaving us stranded about a half-mile away from the hotel and with no choice but to hoof it uphill back to the Cliff Lodge.  Luckily, while we were walking, we spotted a shuttle coming up the CIMG3027road and hitched a ride.

That night, we were advised to not leave the Cliff Lodge building due to avalanche warnings.  They did open up a buffet on the top floor, and we had a nice pasta meal at a reasonable price.

The day would not be complete without a viewing of Sunny, Rudi and Harkin in Hot Dog: The Movie.

Day 3 – Friday, February 8, ’08

We went to Snowbird again, and explored more of the mountain.  The weather was a little clearer although still very windy.  We found some undisturbed pockets of powder, mostly in between the trees, CIMG3045and were able to make a few new tracks down over the other side. Even I could hear the howitzers in the area firing all day to clear the packed snow.

Day 4- Saturday, February 9, ’08

This was our third day at Snowbird.  We spent much of the day on the Gad lifts.  That night we watched the 1986 film Aliens.

Day 5 – Sunday, February 10, ’08

Snowbird has a tunnel near the top of the mountain which goes through to the other side of the mountain with a “magic carpet” conveyour belt that pulls skiiers and boarders through.  We just had to see what this was like, so we checked it out.  Our day ended early at 12:30; we hastily packed up our stuff in the locker room, loaded up the car, and drove to the airport in time to catch our flights home.