Fifteen minutes before first tram is almost always enough. But today, almost double that margin was only good for the second car. And I wasn’t even close to the first car when the doors slammed shut. Before the first car even loaded, the line snaked four times and then went out the front door. The powder frenzy was on in a bad way. All this for 4-8″ of fresh: only a minor under the radar storm during a good year.
My plan of attack was ruined. With seventy people unloading at the summit while I was boarding the 8:25 tram at the base, I was way behind. By the time I skied down to Bypass, the Peabody Quad had already been unloading. I engaged the frenzied charge to the Front Five where us Johny Come Latelies found very little untracked remaining. After wasting a run down Avalanche, I hit Banshee Slopes twice before heading to the summit and taking a hike.
Trees were variable ranging from sensational boot deep untracked to nastiness that gives thin cover a good name. Lower elevation trees were atrocious. The problem was that upper elevation trees were skiing really nicely with surfy powder. After each run that started high and ended low, I determined that the lower elevation coverage was dangerous enough not to warrant a repeat. Yet I kept seeking out other lines to try.
Ski Patrol was sent over the saddle to investigate the Mittersill Liftline. Considering that the Double never spun, they clearly found the coverage to be lacking. They were quite concerned with lower level skiers following tracks and ending up in the wrong place or finding conditions well over their ability. This was a sound and reasonable position. But as another skier noted, you shouldn’t ski out of bounds or closed runs if you don’t know where you are going or don’t know what the conditions are like.
I found my favorite line untracked shortly before noon. The skiing was excellent and surfy. The only thing better than scoring untracked powder is scoring it down your favorite line. Halfway down that line, I came to a stop in a bemused moment of wonder and realization that when I say that this is my favorite line, that I really mean it with no hyperbole or temporary powder hypnosis.
Awesome powder skiing was found elsewhere but there was always a lower elevation penalty to suffer for the effort. The traffic in such areas seemed light considering the crowded powder mania that plagued the base area and lifts. But despite plenty of untracked lines remaining, I opted to call it an early day. With seven days in a row of skiing planned, I couldn’t afford to destroy my body on the first day… even when six inches was feeling more like boot deep.