Powder Skiing at Snowbird and Alta

I asked for Friday off from work in anticipation of what I hoped would be an epic bluebird powder day. On Thursday, I kept track of which areas at Snowbird remained closed during the storm because those areas would likely have the best snow conditions on Friday.

I arrived at Snowbird early enough to catch the first (public) tram to the top of Hidden Peak. Mineral Basin didn’t open yesterday, so I figured its south- and southeast-facing runs would be loaded with powder snow because of the storm’s strong west-northwest winds.

I was right. The 19 inches of fresh powder on White Diamonds was some of the deepest I’ve ever skied.

It had been years since I skied that much fresh powder. I fell three times, but, in between, the skiing was great.

White Diamonds
White Diamonds at Snowbird
White Diamonds
Fresh powder on White Diamonds at Snowbird

For my second run, I decided to head out to The Bookends, which still had plenty of untracked snow. While riding the Mineral Basin Express lift, I noticed that the wind was blowing across the north-facing slopes, but the more northeast-facing slopes seemed to be protected from the wind. When the crowded Bookends Traverse slowed to a crawl, however, I got impatient and dropped in before I turned the corner for the more northeast-facing slopes. Wind had, indeed, scraped snow off the slope I skied. The snow was only a few inches deep near the top of the run, but the skiing was still good.

After one more run at Snowbird, I headed over to Alta. There were still some opportunities there to hike for fresh tracks, but I decided instead to take what I could get from the gravity traverses. Ballroom was tracked, but still fresh. I also dipped into the trees and stayed off trail for some more powder turns before skiing Collins Face down to the base of the Wildcat lift.

After a good run down from Wildcat and a decent run down Yellow Trail and East Greeley, I ended up on the Sunnyside lift. With most everything else tracked out, I still found some fresh powder on Blue Bell off the Sunnyside lift. Although it’s low-angle terrain, it’s still powder skiing and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Back at Snowbird, Little Cloud Bowl’s fresh, untracked powder glistened in the afternoon sun, but ski patrol never did open Road to Provo while I was there. That fresh powder would be for someone else to enjoy. After one last run at Snowbird, I called it a day and headed home content with what was surely one of the best ski days I’ve ever had.

Grand Teton National Park

We drove up to Jackson Hole for the last weekend before they close the park road. The weather did not disappoint. Daytime temperatures were in the high 50s and not a single cloud ventured over northwest Wyoming all weekend. Most of the trees had already lost their leaves, but the blanket of white covering the peaks provided a nice contrast to the still-dry valley floor.

The Cathedral Group
The Cathedral Group, including Teewinot (left), Grand Teton (middle), and Mount Owen (right).
String Lake
The Grand Teton from String Lake
The Teton Range
The Teton Range from Blacktail Ponds Overlook
The Grand Teton
The Grand Teton (left), Mount Owen (middle), and Teewinot Mountain (right) from Blacktail Ponds Overlook
The Teton Range
The Teton Range from Spring Creek Ranch
The Teton Range
The Teton Range from Spring Creek Ranch

Books That Mattered

This article is just a list of books (and a few magazines) that have been impactful for me. I highly recommend all of them. (They are listed in no particular order.)

The Firm

By John Grisham

The first can’t-put-it-down novel I ever read.

Into Thin Air

By Jon Krakauer

The first can’t-put-it-down non-fiction work I ever read. This book changed my life. It made me want to write. It made me want to visit Mount Everest (but not climb it). After reading this book, I became almost obsessively interested in mountaineering, despite the fact that I had neither the will nor the desire to pursue similarly adventurous pursuits.

Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer

A superlative story reported by one of the most gifted non-fiction writers, in my opinion.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

By J. Maarten Troost

Hilarious, engaging, and accompanied by the perfect amount of cynicism.


By Michael Crichton

Funny, unexpected, disjointed, but still with a point. “Direct experience” became a mantra for me.

Memories of Summer: When Baseball was an Art and Writing About it a Game

By Roger Kahn

Everything I love about the romanticized aspects of baseball in one book.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

By Gary Taubes


The DaVinci Code

By Dan Brown

I debated whether or not to include this book because it frustrated me. I didn’t like the ending. There were many aspects of the plot that were unbelievable and absurdly convenient. However, this book is significant for me because it was so engaging that I read almost the entire book (480 pages) in one sitting.

Ski, Skiing, Powder, and Snow Country Magazines

I had a subscription to Skiing before I ever even skied. These magazines changed my life. I spent hours daydreaming about skiing while perusing their contents. (Skiing and Snow Country are now defunct.)

Review: 311 – MOSAIC

311 – MOSAIC
311’s MOSAIC album cover is a mosaic of fan-submitted images.

311’s latest album, MOSAIC, is a patchwork of different styles, producers, and songwriters, but, at its core, it is still very much a 311 album. The quality on 311’s last album, Stereolithic, was very even; that is, the highs and lows were within a narrow range. This album is quite the opposite in that there are superlatives among both the best and the worst material. Overall, there is enough quality and variety on MOSAIC for anyone to find something to enjoy on this album. This album really is a superlative effort even though I think they missed the mark by involving John Feldmann and his production team on five songs. MOSAIC is a solid addition to 311’s discography.


311 – “Perfect Mistake”

311 released a new song from their upcoming album, Mosaic, on Friday. It’s called “Perfect Mistake” and it’s one of the five songs produced by John Feldmann (Goldfinger, The Used, Story of the Year, Blink-182, etc.) that will be on the 17-track record.

The song has an early-2000s pop-punk/nu-metal vibe. Feldmann’s writing, production style, and overbearing influence are all over this song. It’s not a bad song, per se, but it’s overproduced, in my opinion, and it’s not a pure “311” song. It’s 311 performing a song with significant writing contributions by Feldmann and his team.

With that said, the bandmembers’ performances are excellent and the more mainstream production style might hook casual listeners.

Backpacking PocketMod

Backpacking PocketModI designed a backpacking PocketMod (2.5MB PDF) that I think is a useful addition to your backpack. It features:

  • Compass instructions
  • How to start a fire without matches
  • How to “make” water
  • Lists of the ten essentials (both the classic and updated versions)
  • A two-inch ruler
  • Graph paper with 0.125″ × 0.125″ squares to help with measurements
  • Length, area, capacity, weight, and temperature conversions
  • Room to specify emergency contact information and emergency medical details (allergies, medications, etc.)
  • A magnetic declination map (on the back of the page)
  • A table of USGS map scale conversions (on the back of the page)

Print the PDF with the “actual size”, “print on both sides”, and “flip on long edge” settings selected and then fold the PocketMod. To learn more about PocketMods, and to create your own, visit the PocketMod Templates section of my website.