Second storm of February 2008 and the upper gondola (stage two) finally opens! Heavy snowfall on an already destabilizing snowpack caused the upper stage to be closed for several days during the storm, and for a day or more for the ensuing avalanche control. The shutdown continued when the army was unable to deliver the allotted avalanche explosives due to other activities. This led to grumbling, grousing, and finally the hiking and skinning necessary to reach the fluffy goods.

This storm had closed out almost any opportunity to ride due to extremely poor visibility, and even the lower stage had been closed for for a short time. When it opened the hounds were waiting at the gates, and the lineup at the lower stage gondola was edgy, tense, and impatient. We got fully duped because in our excitement we forgot the first rule of deep snow - find all the available pitch on the hill. Instead of heading to the skiers left we dropped right down the gondola line, and after a few slow turns we were stopped dead in our tracks. Many of us ended up actually walking downhill. The sole groomer track had not been rolled out, so first tracks meant pretty slow going. We were sweating balls!
Photo credit: Griffiths/Smith
Photo credit: Sam Smith