An abrupt end to the 2019/2020 ski season

Top of Snowbasin Utah, February 2020

Top of Snowbasin Utah, February 2020

Well everyone on planet Earth will remember how the world changed in March 2020.  The coronavirus ended our season 2 months early this year.  At first Vail said they might reopen Heavenly in May, but it doesn’t look like there is any way ANY ski resorts will open back up before the snow melts.  For me, 36 days isn’t terrible, but compared to last year… ouch!  We got 4 new resorts done: Steamboat, Tamarack, Beaver Mountain, and Sunlight.

Our Big Trip this year started in Tahoe with some really low-tide skiing at Kirkwood and Heavenly in late February.  The last snow had been more than a month before, so that meant skiing on the good ol’ ice skis.  We love our ice skis, but they sure got a workout this year!

We were expecting things to improve dramatically in Utah, but our first day at Snowbasin was … icy.  Luckily, our next day at Beaver Mountain in far northern Utah just a mile from the Idaho border was one of the best of the year.  It was one of those rare all-day powder days when you get fresh tracks all day long.  This place is another one of the great discoveries we have made on the project, and we will definitely be going back there someday.

AiRung at Beaver Mountain Utah, February 2020

AiRung at Beaver Mountain Utah, February 2020

Back to Snowbasin the next day, and this is where we got exposed to something.  We were riding the gondola all day and there were a couple of sick people on with us.  Within 2 days we were in bad shape.  At this time (late February) we weren’t even thinking about Coronavirus, but who knows?  A week later it was everywhere.  This made our day at Sunlight in Colorado pretty unpleasant, but we toughed it out so we could do a review.  Now of course the world has changed and if you are sick you self-quarantine, but not then.  Luckily Sunlight has old double chairs so we were never close to anyone else anyway.

Mt. Wilson Colorado, March 2020

Mt. Wilson Colorado, March 2020

Whatever it was, we got over it pretty quickly and by the 2nd day at Telluride we were just fine.  After that one powder day at Beaver Mountain, the rest of the trip was snowless unfortunately, but I did get to at least knock off a bucket list item on that visit to Telluride.  The Gold Hill stairs and Chutes were something I have been looking at for years, but I never got the motivation up to try in previous trips.  It’s steep and exposed up there, and it’s a long hike from the top of the Revelation chair.  What an experience it was though!  Incredible views and some really impressive avalanche chute skiing that very few people ski.

Gold Hill stairs at Telluride, March 2020

Gold Hill stairs at Telluride, March 2020

Gold Hill Chute #9 at Telluride, March 2020

Gold Hill Chute #9 at Telluride, March 2020

Around March 14th it FINALLY decided to snow again in Tahoe.  That was a Saturday and that was the last day our local resorts were open.  This was particularly cruel because over the next 4 days it snowed over 60″ at Heavenly and up to twice that on the other side of the lake.  Just at our house at 6450′ we got 53″.  This was followed by a few smaller storms and another big one, turning March into an official “Miracle March”, with over 100″ of snow at most of the resorts.  If only they were open!

60" of untracked powder on the runs at Heavenly, March 2020

60″ of untracked powder on the runs at Heavenly, March 2020

Instead, I did some backcountry skiing, including a day at Waterhouse on Luther Pass and 2 days on the Stagecoach part of Heavenly.  This was actually some of the best powder skiing of the year, but it is a LOT of work climbing up over 1500′ for a single run that is over all too soon.

Climbing up at Heavenly, March 2020

Climbing up at Heavenly, March 2020

Heavenly Stagecoach run, March 2020

Heavenly Stagecoach run, March 2020

With all that snow the XC skiing around our house was good until the last of it melted in mid-April.  This may be the first year I actually did more XC ski days than downhill!  Sammy enjoyed it at least.

XC skiing near our house April 10th, 2020

XC skiing near our house April 10th, 2020

Highlights of this year were the days at Tamarack, Idaho and Beaver Mountain, Utah which were both uncrowded powder paradises.  Those are the memories we will hold onto for this season that will have to tide us over until the world gets back to normal again.  We still have 18 more resorts to do, so plenty of adventures yet to come!

Four Corners on the way home, March 2020

Four Corners on the way home, March 2020

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