Every year for the past 15 years as the snow starts to fall and as the opening day of the resort nears I get more and more stoked for the season to arrive. I lust for fat powder days and daydream of face-shots on endless runs. I imagine the creaking of the bull-wheel as it comes to life after a long summer of inactivity. However, each opening day comes and goes without me. I have never known an opening day and this year was no different. This year, my opening day came a little sooner than usual.
You see, I work at the resort and one would think that nailing fresh lines on opening day would be easy. The fact of the matter is that come opening day I am so slammed trying to get things in order for the season to start that fresh lines on an opener are a fairy tale. Well, my fairy tale came true this year, but it’s not what you’re thinking…it’s better.
Utah was blessed with a generous offering from the snow gods this fall, mid October to be exact. November came and…tales of waist deep were becoming more than I could stand.
Utah was blessed with a generous offering from the snow gods this fall, mid October to be exact. Hiking at Alta and the greater Wasatch was becoming the norm. November came and the snow continued. Tales of waist deep were becoming more than I could stand. The resort wasn’t supposed to open until November 17.
As the 17th neared I thought that for sure I would make it up for fresh lines on the opener. This was to be my year. On the afternoon of the 15th the Marketing Director came over to my desk to ask if I would be interested in joining 4 others who would be going up tomorrow to get some footage and stills for a promotion needed in L.A. on Friday, the 17th.
” You’ll need to be at the Gondola by 8 a.m. Think you can make it?”
“Are you kidding?” I quipped. “You don’t even have to ask. I’ll be there at 7 if you want!”
8 a.m. There we were, five of the most giddy riders on the earth that day. The resort would be opening the gondola and a one lift just for us. One lift was plenty. I had to tighten down my boots to be sure this wasn’t a dream. The lack of circulation and tingling in my toes told me it wasn’t a dream.
The tales of waist deep were true. Face shots in The Pines and an untracked paradise were my first turns of the year. I kept looking back at the lift to see that it was running…but no one was riding it. It was running and waiting for me. The cold nights had kept the pow-pow extra dry, some of Utah’s finest. After 4 laps of filming and photos they let us loose for one final run. I knew exactly where I was headed.
There was not a track in sight and no one to snake my line. The face shots I had been dreaming about all summer were finally here. Effortless turns led me from one glade into the next…
Skiing down Elk Ridge, The Pines are to the left. Open glades of perfect pitch open up continuously. It’s like a “choose your own adventure” skiing down Elk Ridge, you just dive off when you can’t stand it any more. What inevitably happens every powder day is that the temptation is too strong and despite the number of tracks, people drop in way too early. This day wasn’t any different. One, Two, Three, Four and there they went. I continued on down Elk Ridge. Lucky for me and a few other “Saintly souls” is that on powder days we resist the temptation and are rewarded with the final couple of glades. That’s not to say I haven’t ever given in to temptation. But this time, I was rewarded with a most bounteous feast.
There was not a track in sight and no one to snake my line. I didn’t even pause or check my speed, rather I dove in making big GS turns. The face shots I had been dreaming about all summer were finally here. Effortless turns led me from one glade into the next, and down to the tree line at the bottom. I stopped and looked up. It was snowing lightly with the sun’s rays shining through. My solo line and the scenery was an image I’ll not soon forget. I had earned this. Fifteen years in the waiting, and here it was.
I dove into the trees, out the bottom and down to the top of the gondola. I arrived to find the others waiting and I looked around to see that we all had huge smiles on our faces. I’d like to think that the snow gods were smiling too.