A Bird Returns to its Nest

By Kendall \ March 25 2008

This post is from visiting contributor Tim Cartwright who after moving to Seattle 5 years ago returns to Utah to ski his old haunts during this epic season.

I don’t really know where to begin. For five years I was fortunate enough to call Snowbird ‘home.’ I’ve traveled around the world in search of powder and to this day there are few, if any places that can match the overall vibe that resonates at the ‘Bird.

Racing toward the bullpen, I am elated to find the tram dock empty. A sensory experience unfolds as the turnstile cranks, ticket scanners beep, and the subtle yet persistent hum of the bull wheel brings Red Tram to a silent stop.

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Skis clank, boots shuffle forward with anticipation. It’s been three years since my last Tram – and I’m starting to get goose bumps. I spy a few familiar faces and suddenly it feels like home again. A half empty boat, aqua blue skies and a fresh 16” of the Greatest Snow on Earth- it’s apparent the ‘Bird has rolled out a proper white carpet.

The arduous task of picking lines would be a virtual trip down memory lane. As the tram hovers past the Cirque- my head spins toward Baldy. We immediately march up the short hike and dive off the traverse. Fast and smooth, I’m overtaken by a rush of adrenaline. Careful to scrub my speed approaching Broom Closet, I find a nice 12 footer to drop.

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Speeding through the apron, I ski directly over to Chip’s Face. The groomers did their usual split job- leaving powder on the left and soft corduroy to the right. It might only be a few turns, but the fall-away turns while viewing Superior are breathtaking. A few seconds later and I’m back on the Blue Tram, ready to do it all again.

As we exit the top station, powerful winds point like an arrow, directly at Hanging Bowl. Breaking trail into the upper chute was a surprise. Obvious wind loading provided strong clue, it was a wonder why nobody had hit this stash sooner. Rarely a disappointment, the deep and chalky wind-loaded powder delivered as promised. Smiles grew wider as we charged through the undisturbed snow.

The Peruvian Express continues to alleviate the past history of tram crowding. Greeted by a full day of walk-on trams, my legs would burn as we’d churn up an easy 30,000 vertical feet. After racking up ten satisfying laps, break time was necessary for this now sea-level dweller. We retreat to General Gritt’s Deli, hidden in the back of the grocery store on the lower level of the Snowbird Center. A quick pit stop was all that was needed, since the Gad Valley was calling.

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With the sunshine beating down from above and ample powder for the taking, we rallied a few laps down Nirvanna and South Chute- taking advantage of their continuous fall lines and oft forgotten powder. As we boarded Zoom for another Round the World lap, whispers of a Thunder Bowl opening percolated. Diverting from our original plan, we quickly shot over to Gad 2. As the chair approached, sounds of Pink Floyd and guitar echoed the loading platform. “How I Wish, How I Wish You Here.”

Thirty minutes later, cracking a cold Wasatch Brew on the Tram Deck and reminiscing amongst the cobalt sky- it couldn’t have been more appropriate.

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