Thanks April, Thanks Winter
[Brighton legend Josh Roberts still throws a proper method. P: Riley Snyder]
April is a bittersweet time of the year for snow lovers. Temperatures begin to climb, yard work gets to the point where it can’t be ignored and it’s the month that resorts shut it down for the winter. However, for those few weeks before the chairs stop spinning, April has the potential to bring the goods. This year, that potential was realized and Brighton was the beneficiary of spring dump after spring dump. There were strings of blower powder days with the occasional warm bluebird day just to make sure no one thought it was December and not really April. It really was an ideal way to wrap up the season.
[Kalen Thorien found some late season goods! P: Riley Snyder]
Even though it’s hard to accept that the season is over, it really ended the same way it began: high levels of stoke and great riding/skiing conditions. From the first days of the season, spent hiking for turns and dodging rocks, to the closing day festivities it was a really fun year. So, for now, get the lawn mowed, go fishing, go skateboarding, go mountain biking, go on a hike, or simply take a walk outside with the family… anything to help pass the time until the first snowflakes grace our mountains again this fall.
It’s March, but Nobody’s Mad
If you follow NCAA basketball, then you know how crazy March is. Droves of people constantly check their laptops, tablets, cell phones, pagers or whatever they can to see how their precious brackets are doing. We Utah winter enthusiasts get a little crazy in March too, however: checking the weather and hoping for just one more classic Utah spring pow day! Unlike NCAA March Madness, which ends with fifty percent of the participants in tears from utter disappointment, spring powder days in Utah leave everyone smiling.
[Lars Reber of Coalatree Organics with the definition of "pitted" at Brighton last weekend]
Last weekend exemplified what a spring pow day in Utah is. An active weather pattern moved into Utah, bringing a few inches of snow with it…and then the lake effect machine kicked into high gear. Blanketing Brighton in over two feet of classic Utah powder in just a few days resulting in some of the greatest riding/skiing of the season! The season may be winding down, but you know what they say: April valley showers bring Wasatch mountain powder…
[Seen above: Fireworks and night riding, Mac Spedale with a proper cliff drop method, Brighton’s own Chris Frost in the white room, and the infamous Nate Murphy getting inverted]
February is the "weird uncle" month. Sometimes it is shorter, sometimes it is longer, and some people pretend that the fourteenth doesn’t even exist... The great thing about weird uncles is that they make everything more interesting. They have the best stories and they usually come up with some awesome gifts. Just as usual, February 2013 came through just like Uncle Merle did for your birthday present last year. It was especially great up here at Brighton! Blue bird pow days, side country hikes, special events and even fireworks made February a month to remember.
February is all but in the books and March is upon us. This means a plethora of green foods and Thirty Two day is only days away. This is a really fun event and is always a great time. For more information about the day and how to get registered, check out Thirty Two's Facebook page.
[Seen above: Mouse cruising the 2012 slalom course]
Ghosts in the Trees
The recent weeks of winter have been somewhat finicky. A big storm followed by days of high pressure and inversion; and the cycle repeats. It’s fairly typical of a Utah January, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to like it. When Mother Nature starts becoming a bit stingy about sharing her fluffy goods it’s imperative that you know where to go to get your turns. One of my “go to” zones at Brighton is the trees surrounding Snake Creek. Riding and skiing aside, the character of the terrain could be enough to lure you in. Creeks, boulders, wind ripped branches and wildlife sightings create a perfect setting that’s only enhanced when blanketed with snow. Sometimes it’s nice just to stop and look around and enjoy the silence. If variety is the spice of life, then this area is full of flavor. Whether you are looking to get steep and deep turns, fun-size drops, natural jumps, hidden log jibs or just want to ditch the corduroy for a minute; chances are you will find what you’re looking for in these wonderful forests. Just don’t run over any squirrels or porcupines… we kind of like those little guys!
Video courtesy of Wren Withers (@wasatchattack)
Weekend's Forecast: Powder & Cliffs
So far the New Year has brought the Salt Lake valley nothing but a thick, smoggy layer of inversion. For the Wasatch range, however, 2013 has been great so far. Cold temps at night and clear sunny days above the valley inversion have kept much of our Christmas storm’s snow nice and soft in many places. This has provided us with premium riding/skiing conditions over the last ten days or so. The icing on our January cake looks to be on its way this weekend in the form of up to two feet of classic, low density Utah cold smoke… aka fluffy powder.
One of the best places to take advantage of a big storm is right here at Brighton, over on Mount Millicent. From the Millicent lift you have access to bowls, secret jump spots and endless cliff lines.
Many of my best days on a snowboard are a result of dropping cliffs on Milly. Jeremy Jones agrees "Some of my favorite lines in the world are in this photo."
Mary’s, a classic zone accessible from Millicent, is home to my favorite cliffs and drops at Brighton. From fun ten foot drops to legitimate seventy footers you can find anything you’re looking for when the conditions are right; and with this next storm, the cliffs lines will be going off this weekend.
Hope you’ve been doing your squats…
Christmas In Rock Garden
Roughly ten years ago I experienced two firsts on my snowboard: First legit pow day and my first experience with the infamous Rock Garden. Christmas Eve was identical to this year, it absolutely dumped inch upon glorious inch all day long and through the night. As I had never had a true pow day before, I was not nearly as excited as I should have been. Just went through my routine, and it was still dumping. The drive up Big Cottonwood wasn't really as harrowing as it could have been, though it did lend a handful of white knuckle moments. Nevertheless, we arrived safely.
Riding one of the first five chairs of the day, my cousin (a true Brighton ripper) assured me that we would be able to get some "sick pow" if we went to Rock Garden. I agreed. I wish I could have watched my cousin and myself struggling to break first trail back into the pillowy terrain. After about fifteen to thirty minutes of trail blazing, we strapped up and dropped in. At that moment, my life changed forever. I know that sounds cliche, but it just happened that way. My first few turns down those pillows (ugly as they likely were) burned deep, vivid memories of joy and excitement that I will never forget.
Now, many powder days later, the same scenario presents itself again. A Christmas pow day. Tomorrow's forecast is calling for Blue Bird conditions, so it's basically a powder junkies dream: Deep turns and blue skies all day. For all that are able to get after it tomorrow, it looks to be a day you will not soon forget. Here's to a Brighton Christmas pow day as wonderful and memorable as mine so many years ago!
When is the best time to visit Brighton for some night riding and skiing? Well, it’s always a good time, but now through December 22 you can get five hours of the best night action in the state for only $20! The great thing about nights up here is that there is lighted terrain for everyone, from easy groomer turns to park laps.
If you have never been night riding or skiing before, you are missing out. There is something almost magical about the mountain all lit up; an experience you won’t find with a day pass. I taught myself to snowboard over a season of nothing but nights at Brighton; and I loved every second of it. Between the good company and the massive amounts of lit up terrain to explore, the cold fingers and toes never bothered me. So dress warm, bring some hot cocoa and come on up for a night you won’t forget!
Check out the trail map!