the usual
inconsistent at best
My 2020-2021 Ski Year in Review
A few highlights in a below average snow year.

First, the weather summaries:

Not our best year ever, but some spring storms prevented it from being our worst year ever.

As for skiing, I got a lot of ski days in, but they were mostly just a handful of runs each time (I began working for a startup in October 2020 and didn’t expect to have much free time). I even skipped a couple of powder days (gasp!) because I had work demands. I know this attitude is likely foreign to most ski bums, and all I can say is that I will try to do better next year.

Let’s look at the individual days of the 2020–2021 ski season for me.

Day 1 (Alta): 25 November 2020

I wrote “thin cover” in my tracker app. The photos prove it. Every year I am surprised that enough snow can fall to cover boulders and fill pits and ravines, but somehow it happens.

Dawn from the Collins lift:

Thin cover under the Sugarloaf lift:

Day 2 (Alta): 3 December 2020

This day looked like a completely on-piste day of practice runs from Sugarloaf. Not much to say here other than I think my thighs were getting hot.

The snowmaking machine (slow-motion) mid Sugar Bowl:

Day 3 (Alta): 8 December 2020

Another on-piste day from Sugarloaf. It looks like I got a bit more variety at the bottom of the runs than the week before, but most off-trail areas were still closed.

Day 4 (Alta): 15 December 2020

Still mostly on-piste, but now I’m over in Collins Gulch. Wildcat had enough cover to take Johnson’s Warm Up and Punch Bowl a few times. I also got some runs off Baldy Shoulder, which is always a good time.

Day 5 (Alta): 21 December 2020

Similar to day 4, but I did the Shoulder Traverse from Ballroom (I normally just hike up from Wildcat) and dropped down Bounous'

Everything under Wildcat was pretty buffed out:

Looking down Right of Tree Jump:

Time lapse of the clouds over Baldy:

Looking down Bounous':

After coming down Baldy Shoulder area:

Day 6 (Alta): 23 December 2020

You can tell the days I am skiing with someone else by the number of runs. This day is a good example of that. Alta had gotten some fresh snow a day or two earlier.

Our first run was High Traverse to Gunsight. This was my friend Kenny’s first day skiing of the season and he was gassed by the time we had finished the traverse and were standing in the Gunsight notch (FTR, Kenny is an expert skier—way better than I am. I feel bad we started out with such a big climb on the first run of the year for him). We stopped a few times on the way down so he wouldn’t pass out. I was glad I had a few days under my belt already and my ski legs were in good shape.

TIL: take a warmup run or two, even at the expense of missing some fresh tracks if you’re with someone who needs it. I am usually the one who needs it.

Apparently we have to spell it out:

Day 7 (Alta): 30 December 2020

Another day with a friend and a good mix of runs all over the place.

Day 8 (Alta): 6 January 2021

First rope-drop of the season—worth it. I had taken a handful of runs off Wildcat, and decided to hike Baldy Shoulder. By the time I had reached Doorknob, there was a line of maybe 8 or 9 people ahead of me with a ski patroller at the gate listening to patrol chatter.

In the 10 or so minutes I waited, there were a couple of explosive detonations (I couldn’t tell if it was artillery or hand charges). A moment or so later I could hear a patroller notifying everyone of the areas that are now open, including Baldy Shoulder. The patroller untied the ropes and moved the pole and let everyone through.

Some people took the first possible left they could and dove down the bowl for first tracks. A few others (including myself) went up just a bit further just northwest of the Bad News Cliffs and skied down that bowl. A few more still went further above the Bad News Cliffs. Plenty of room for everybody.

I had so much fun that I did it two more times, one of those times I met a guy who I saw in line at the rope drop and we talked about how fun and rare an opportunity that is for casual skiers like ourselves. Fantastic day.

Day 9 (Alta): 25 January 2021

A big storm dropped over a foot on the 23rd of January. By the time I was able to get up on the 25th, everything was pretty buffed out, but they opened some new terrain below Perlas/Baldy Chutes (this was the first time I had ever been able to hike up above the Ballroom Traverse) and a dozen people were ahead of me, still plenty of space for my own tracks.

After my second try I thought I’d take the Baldy Shoulder Traverse and see if there was any good snow (there was):

Day 10 (Alta): 4 February 2021

This day I decided that I would get to know Westward Ho area a little better. One warmup off Collins and then the rest of the day was dedicated to the ‘Ho. Well worth it.

Day 11 (Sundance): 11 February 2021

First (and only) day at Sundance this year; nothing remarkable, but I love Sundance. I think I forgot to turn on my ski tracker after lunch. My brother Ryan came into town and so the three brothers hit the slopes. Most of our runs were in the trees off of Amy’s Ridge.

Day 12 (Alta): 25 February 2021

This was a slightly sneaky good day, lots of wind-blown on top making things soft. Not deep, but lovely to ski in. This was also my first time down Glory Hole. Just a couple of tracks ahead of me (I was surprised since we hadn’t had snow for a few days). I may or may not have ducked a rope to drop into the ravine I wanted… but the rope was hung high and it was not obvious to me whether it was a real boundary or serving some other purpose.

Day 13 (Alta): 2 March 2021

Another day with a friend. We did everything we wanted to, including High Boy, Yellow Trail and a ton of bump runs off Sugarloaf. No complaints.

View of the mysterious Alta Pods from EBT:

Day 14 (Alta): 12 March 2021

I had time for 3 Sugarloaf runs today. This was kind of a bummer day if I recall. The lines were outrageously long and I sort of gave up.

Day 15 (Alta): 19 March 2021

A day with my brother Jason. We had so much fun honing our mogul skills. The weather was warm, so anything below 9500 feet was soft and squishy, but we found the Devil’s Castle traverse open and the snow was still powder for a few hundred vertical feet. So nice.

Devil’s Castle Traverse was open. The first few hundred feet were fluffy and soft, everything below that was soft and mushy:

Day 16 (Alta): 24 March 2021

A busy, Wildcat-only day.

Day 17 (Alta): 26 March 2021

Another busy, Wildcat-only day with one hike up Baldy Shoulder. Tree day visibility.

Westward Ho area:

Day 18 (Alta): 15 April 2021

Fantastic finish.

Snowfall from the Wildcat lift:

Baldy Shoulder view:

That’s a wrap!

We’re entering a drought year by the looks of it. I will be praying for snow (and be sure to give thanks when it comes).

Last modified on 2021-05-09