On the slopes in Utah & Wyoming

Sweat pouring down my brow, muscles aching and I have only just put on the ski clothing and boots! This does not bode well for the next week. After a long sleep and a leisurely first day just relaxing and sightseeing, Friday the 9th is the big test for me: back on skis for the first time in four years. Our first stop is Snowbasin, a ski resort northeast of Salt Lake City which we have not been to before. The reason for this is that I purchased a ticket called “Mountain Collective” which gives two days skiing at a number of resorts in the USA and Canada for an all inclusive price. So we will be resort hopping for the next week.

After a record “powder” season last year in Utah, the snow gods have not been kind to this region in 2018. Brown barren landscapes greet us as we wend our way towards Snowbasin, only the peaks show the glimmer of snow – we had more snow along the roadside here last year on ‘Streak’ and ‘Storm’ in May. The roadside snow depth indicators have their bases exposed, that’s how poor the snowfall has been!

The lodge at Snowbasin is well appointed and Anne will be comfortable while she waits for me, spending the day enjoying myself on the slopes, still she has to prepare the presentation for…. ahh you will have wait for that one, nearly let our secret destination out of the bag. I can still get on and off the chairlift without causing a catastrophe, let’s see how the skiing bit will go.

Snowbasin looking east, no lower elevation snow

Tested the stopping first, then upward and onwards, let’s explore. It quickly becomes apparent as perched on the chairlift rising up the mountain side; the lack of snow, bare patches between trees, “no snow well”, as I heard from other skiers, around the base of the trees. It seemed like spring skiing conditions, without the warmer weather. If it was not for the continuous snow making during the day as well as at night, I shudder to think what the slopes would be like.

Snowbasin, snow covered at higher elevations

I am able to ski! No style, not much skill, but I can get down the easy blue run. I am skiing again. I am sorry that Anne cannot join me, but glad that skiing friends did not take up the suggestion that they join us in Utah this year. Two days of gentle skiing at Snowbasin are a very enjoyable return to skiing for me. I explore the mountain finding a mixture of snow and ice, realise I have really been spoilt in the past by groomed slopes and fresh powder. Still I am happy.

Two days up at Snowbasin and onwards to our next ski resort on the Mountain Collective pass, Jackson Hole Wyoming which we passed through Jackson in 2015 on our first RTW. First a short detour to KLIM to see Rhylea and Kelsey, KLIM Woman’s Adventure Motorcycle clothing designers, who back in May last year during our visit on the second RTW, were designing the KLIM 2018 range. We travel with snow falling again as we did in May last year, this time we are inside our nice warm car, so much more comfortable.

KLIM having shared their thoughts with us then, and listened to Anne’s comments on her current KLIM Altitude jacket, Kelsey and Rhylea were now able to show Anne the results of all their hard work: the Artemis jacket and pants which is hitting the stores as we speak, or write in my case. Rhylea and Kelsey exceeded Anne’s expectations and they also seemed pleased to see Anne’s reactions as they showed all the features of the new motorcycle clothing. The end result, Anne purchased an Artemis set and cannot wait to get home to test them out. More adventures in that direction coming I think.

Jackson Hole does not disappoint, a little further north and a little more snow, I am soon wizzing down the slopes, blue only I hasten to add, over 28km on the first day. A lot less on the second day, even though I exercised before departure by cycling, my legs tell me from time to time to ease off a little. The second day sees intermittent snow showers, which darken the sky, this allied with my cataract impaired vision has me still staying on the groomed slopes to keep me safe.

Beautiful open runs at Jackson Hole

I always enjoy the rides on the cablecar or chairlift, meeting people from different backgrounds and always learn something interesting. This time I met two people who are using stem cell treatments, one to overcome a back injury, the other a stroke, neither in the USA however as the regulation and approval of such treatment is governed by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). As it was pointed out, why does the use of ones own stem cells on oneself require approval of a drugs administration? Interesting.

My final skiing destination is Alta, back near Salt Lake City, an old favourite from the time Anne and I both skied together and one of only three, I believe, that only allow skiers and not snowboarders, thus a favourite of Anne’s, after being knocked unconscious by an out of control snowboarder at Park City, Utah some 10 years ago.

A perfect day for skiing

Blue skies and 17 inches / 40+ cm. of fresh power snow are waiting for us at Alta. We get an early start, along with many others heading up high to take advantage of the snow and sun after such a poor ski season to date. The crisp crunch of the perfect snow underfoot brings back great memories. I cannot wait to get started. The view from the top is spectacular and a quick run down and back has me warmed up and eying a large patch of virgin power snow. A must do after the crunch of the groomed slopes, the almost soundless hiss of the skis hidden beneath the deep powder snow is priceless. Up and down a few more times, then the ‘signed’ gate onto a black run beckons. ‘Expert skiers only’, ‘Beware Avalanche’ etc etc. Good thing I have cataracts as the USA seems paranoid about risk. Down the fresh powder and splat, face first into the deep unmarked powder. Ten minutes are spent fruitlessly searching for a lost ski, invisible beneath the deep snow. Ski found and I am off again. A few minutes later I am reminded why they have different types of categories for ski runs as I peer down a steep snow filled chute watching the effects of gravity on dislodged snow as it runs without stopping further and further down the mountain.

Exploring the black runs

Starts to get more interesting

Suffice to say, I get down, albeit with a few falls and a reminder that advanced areas with exposed rocks, trees and narrow descents are best left to those with the requisite skills – do heed the warning signs! Still, over the next one and a half days I ventured off groomed tracks more than once and enjoyed every minute. It did make me realise that if I wish to progress further, more exercise in advance and a lesson or two would not go amiss. Thank you Anne for sitting, watching and wishing you could join me.

What a wonderful day I have had

My ski holiday is over, next stop Europe, family and friends in what will be a busy few weeks.

– Anthony