After a few good but heavy leg burners on Red Dog, Squaw Creek, and Far East this morning, the crowd began to loiter and then build at the base of the Funitel. Nobody seemed to have any sound knowledge on when or if the upper mountain was going to open, but that did not deter a soul. The snow was on the denser side at the base and people were hungry to get a taste of the lighter side up top.
The die hards waited for at least 2 hours for the Funitel to open. At some point (maybe around 30-40 minutes into a line wait) the logic seems to shift. The value of the invested time is perceived to trump the value of the yet to be invested time and people just won’t walk away from the line. That was the case today. Even so, just before the masses were allowed through the gates the crowd was informed of the fact that nothing but the Mountain Run would be open…
That didn’t seem to change peoples’ behavior, they were committed, everyone rushed the Funitel turnstiles like it was first chair on KT, packing the cars to capacity and darting out at the top to be the first to find a few fresh turns. But the light was flat, the snow was still falling, and the mountain run was cordoned off in a way to minimize straying from the cat track for those quick 3 or 4 turns that you can get between bends and switchbacks. I’m guessing there were quite a few people that called it a day after that, a two hour wait for a socked in Mountain Run.
Patience was a theme today, and probably for the whole season, but it paid off this afternoon. Unbeknownst to many early birds, Shirley finally did open. A little after 2:00. Most of the people who had waited in that first Funi line were already at the bar or on their way home. The clouds lifted and broke a bit and a small cohort of bell to bellers, or people who just got off work and only made it out for the afternoon, got a bit of a treat!
The snow in Shirley was silky. Still Sierra Cement, but not the kind that wipes your legs out after a couple of runs. It was smooth. Hero snow, but not yet hero conditions.
This last snowfall has done a lot to fill in the cracks left by the drought. Even without another storm on the horizon we are still in much better shape right now.
Shirley was tracked out in the short time it was open this afternoon but there is a lot more terrain likely to open up in the near future. If you cut out early and missed it, don’t stress… It’ll stay cold tonight.