Jeremy Jensen Powsurfing at Alta Ski Resort

Alta is for Powsurfing


Late season snowstorms and cold temps were back in full swing in late May. I was due to leave for Kauai on a surf filming mission this weekend so I decided to leave a day early in hopes of bagging some late season pow at the bird. It had been dumping hard for 3 days and snowbird was due to open up on friday with 30 new inches. I woke up stoked and I waited patiently for the road to open after the avy control had finished up. The road opened on schedule and just as I was about to race to the car the bad news hit… Snowbird was not going to open today because of too much snow! They have been running weekends only for the past few weeks so they had not kept up with their avalanche control work and they decided it was too dangerous to open that day. I was pretty pissed after driving all the way from Logan and getting my hopes up to slash 3 feet of pow in late May.
I settled down and got on the phone to everybody I knew in the area to try to find a buddy to go hike some powsurf lines with. I had brought a couple of extra powsurfers with me for friends to ride. Nobody was into it. Who could resist a waist deep pow day in late May?! So I went at it alone. Not the smartest thing to do given all the red flags of the day – snowbird choosing not to open, 3 feet of new snow in May, potential for major warming…etc. However, 20 years shredding the backcountry has taught me that safe travel is still possible if you’re smart about it.


Luckily, Alta had been running their snowcats and had been grooming throughout the week so I didn’t have to hike in waist deep snow. I marched up the groomer passing ski supremacist hippies left and right. (Alta is a “skier only” resort, snowboards are forbidden)
The groomer made the hike up a walk in the park.

I love hiking with the powsurfers becasue they are so light and minimalistic. Of course I get all the awkward looks from people muttering things like “what the hell is that?” and “how do you ride down without bindings”…. I reply with “it’s a powdersurfer” and “gravity”. Some people are intrigued and stoked at the concept and some people can’t quite fathom it (especially your average hippy at Alta). They get all sorts of confused when you blow by them on the ride down.


Balls deep at 10,000 feet

Top of Collins Chair – Strictly Forbidden area for snowboarders

Looks like I’m authorized

Visibility was pretty poor so I decided the trees beneath the Collins chair were a good bet for good pow and better vis. The wind was raging so I quickly gave praise and dropped in for a warm up run. I knew it was going to be pretty deep but I didn’t expect it to be nearly waist deep.


After a short warm up run it was on! Conditions were epic – even for mid winter. Now where to go?

Decisions decisions….

The signs were very helpful…
I ripped a bunch of lines down “sunspot” under the collins chair. Nicely spaced trees kept the pow safe from the wind and the visibility good. The snowpack was so high that I nearly hit my head on the chairs as I slashed by them.

Tree barrel

Almost hit my head on the chair

After 5 runs on the upper mountain I was spent. I headed for one of my favorite zones at Alta for my lower descent. The Wildcat zone holds some sick steep shots with tons of features to launch off of. I had to do some trailblazing in waist deep snow to get there but it was well worth the effort. The snow was pretty saturated on the lower mountain so I needed a good steep run. Although the snow was not as good down here, this was still the funnest run of the day. Super steep chutes with fun buttons left and right- all the way down to the parking lot.
Faceshots galore, fun bumps everywhere, I was in powsurf heaven. I left super stoked to get a nice deep pow day that could be the last of the season. 10 hrs later I hopped on a flight to Kauai and spent the next 10 days soaking in the sun, surfing, and chilling out in a tropical paradise. Pretty epic ender to another epic season.
Peep the footy below!


MayDaze

 

It has been 5 or 6 days since the last storm so I kept my hopes low for the day. We rode strapped for the morning and I scouted for deeper pow in the afternoon. Turned out we found some pow just deep enough to surf on the highest north facing slopes.
Earning my turns

I managed to grab a few good still shots with my remote trigger as the sun fell low into the sky. Too good to put on the blog… gonna have to stay tuned for those. My battery died in my remote as the light became just perfect so I was a bit let down. I managed to get some pretty nice video instead.

Slashing above the Mt. Naomi Wilderness


Aaron and I spent the morning snowboarding/skiing. There were some lines we had been waiting all year to hit. They were finally safe enough to shred, but the pow was not quite deep enough to powsurf.


We have been looking at these lines off of Mt. Magog, waiting for the right day. It could be years before they fill in good enough to ride. Hopefully we can nail this one in the next few weeks.


Mayday!

May 1st brought bluebird conditions and if you knew where to find it, there was cold dry pow to surf as well. It’s becoming harder to find people out there that are still in winter mode.. the backcountry up here is pretty much a ghost town right now. The past two sundays I haven’t seen or heard a soul up there other than my homies and I. More powder for us to slash I guess.
I knew it was supposed to cloud up this afternoon so I showed up early and sessioned solo for a couple of hours until Craig and Dewey showed up. I managed to find some nice pow up high in the N facing slopes.


slashes and photos: Jeremy Jensen

All it takes is a little bump in the slope and it’s party time. I found this bump and popped some tricks.

Pop shovit on the “140 powderskate”
Kickflip

I’ve been finding some pretty fun shots where I can ghost my sled and get some turns. I rigged my pov cam to my sled and powsurfed behind it as it ghosted down the hill.

Bomb drop off of my moving sled

Powder plumes where kicking up pretty big for a sunny day in May


One of the little less know benefits of shrednecking is hot food for lunch. My little cooker attaches to the pipe and heats up leftovers to perfection. The menu for today: Corned beef with roasted potatoes and carrots – served at 10,000 feet. Yum.


Craig and Dewey finally showed up around noon and with them came fast moving storm clouds and eventually, a full on blizzard. It went from sunny warm and bluebird to a january style blizzard within minutes. We were forced to surf the trees for a little while until the storm passed and the sun popped back out. This cycle would be the norm for the rest of the day. 15 minutes of blizzard, 15 minutes of sunshine. Gotta love spring weather in Utah.
We had numbers now so we were able to start taking runs. We sessioned a familiar spot where we used to ride snowboards back in the day.
Craig Stevenson kicking up some cold smoke

Jeremy… getting it


Our snowpack is so high this year that we were able to do a couple of entrances that had not been filled in for years. Pretty scary drop in. Tight and steep!

Dropping in


The first turn after the drop in – high speed!

A few turns later, a perfect roller to bust ollies off of

It was so much fun we had to do it again! Actually, the only good snow left was beneath the cliff bands so if we wanted the pow we had to brave the steep, skinny drop in again. It was way scarier this time with our old tracks and two bomb holes below where Dewey and Keneka had landed on their snowboards.
Craig – big slash beneath a skinny drop in
Jeremy – hauling ass thru chop beneath the skinny drop in
Craig and I tried a follow cam run.. not easy. Trying to stay close enough to keep him in the picture while getting blasted with his spray was pretty hard.



We have been pretty lucky this spring with some nice cool temps and plenty of moisture. Super stoked to be powsurfing this late in the season. Spoiled, but still hoping for more!