MikeSandy.net

About Me

A Skier’s Journal

Information about the book I wrote

Photo Gallery

40 photos sorted randomly

The Grand Teton from the Mormon Row Historic District. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
The Grand Teton from the Mormon Row Historic District. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Kaʻiwa Ridge, Oahu
Kaʻiwa Ridge, Oahu
The Koʻolau Range on Oahu from the Pali Lookout at sunrise.
The Koʻolau Range on Oahu from the Pali Lookout at sunrise.
Summer skiing on Gunsight at Alta Ski Area in Utah. July 13, 2008.
Summer skiing on Gunsight at Alta Ski Area in Utah. July 13, 2008.
The view from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park
The view from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park
The Cirque and the Peruvian Gulch at Snowbird Resort in Utah
The Cirque and the Peruvian Gulch at Snowbird Resort in Utah
Waterton Lake, Alberta, Canada
Waterton Lake, Alberta, Canada
The Grand Teton from the Mormon Row Historic District. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. October 28, 2018.
The Grand Teton from the Mormon Row Historic District. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. October 28, 2018.
A fly fisherman in the Ausable River with Whiteface Mountain in the distance. Adirondack Park, New York. May 31, 2004.
A fly fisherman in the Ausable River with Whiteface Mountain in the distance. Adirondack Park, New York. May 31, 2004.
Fall colors and Mount Moran. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. October 6, 2019.
Fall colors and Mount Moran. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. October 6, 2019.
The Awaʻawapuhi Trail, Kauai
The Awaʻawapuhi Trail, Kauai
Kauai's Napali Coast from the Kalalau Trail
Kauai's Napali Coast from the Kalalau Trail
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
Peyto Lake, Alberta, Canada
Peyto Lake, Alberta, Canada
Rock strata in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah. November 25, 2007.
Rock strata in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah. November 25, 2007.
The Grand Teton from 20 miles away in Victor, Idaho
The Grand Teton from 20 miles away in Victor, Idaho
Awaʻawapuhi Valley, Kauai
Awaʻawapuhi Valley, Kauai
Paris Las Vegas
Paris Las Vegas
Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai. October 27, 2013.
Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai. October 27, 2013.
Mount Shuksan from the Chain Lakes Trail. North Cascades National Park in Washington State. July 17, 2015.
Mount Shuksan from the Chain Lakes Trail. North Cascades National Park in Washington State. July 17, 2015.
Kauai's Napali Coast from the Honopu Ridge Trail. November 8, 2018.
Kauai's Napali Coast from the Honopu Ridge Trail. November 8, 2018.
The Teton Range from the Jackson Lake Dam in Wyoming
The Teton Range from the Jackson Lake Dam in Wyoming
Hanalei Bay, Kauai
Hanalei Bay, Kauai
Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Waimea Canyon, Kauai
View to the east from Mount Haystack's summit in New York's Adirondack Park
View to the east from Mount Haystack's summit in New York's Adirondack Park
Snowbird's Peruvian Gulch
Snowbird's Peruvian Gulch
Sunset from Anaehoʻomalu Bay (A Bay) on the Big Island of Hawaii. October 13, 2016.
Sunset from Anaehoʻomalu Bay (A Bay) on the Big Island of Hawaii. October 13, 2016.
Hanakapiai Beach from the Kalalau Trail on Kauai
Hanakapiai Beach from the Kalalau Trail on Kauai
The Grand Teton (left), Mount Moran (right), and Jackson Lake. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
The Grand Teton (left), Mount Moran (right), and Jackson Lake. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Sunset from near Gold Beach, Oregon
Sunset from near Gold Beach, Oregon
Honopu Beach, Kauai. November 8, 2018.
Honopu Beach, Kauai. November 8, 2018.
A lightning strike in front of the Teton Range in Wyoming
A lightning strike in front of the Teton Range in Wyoming
Yosemite Falls from Glacier Point. Yosemite National Park, California. August 3, 2019.
Yosemite Falls from Glacier Point. Yosemite National Park, California. August 3, 2019.
A rainbow over Kauai's Hanalei Bay on the morning of November 2, 2013
A rainbow over Kauai's Hanalei Bay on the morning of November 2, 2013
Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake, Oregon
The Teton Range. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. October 6, 2019.
The Teton Range. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. October 6, 2019.
Tunnel View at blue hour, after sunset. Yosemite National Park, California. August 2, 2019.
Tunnel View at blue hour, after sunset. Yosemite National Park, California. August 2, 2019.
Dante's View in Death Valley National Park
Dante's View in Death Valley National Park
Kauai's Napali Coast from the Kalalau Trail
Kauai's Napali Coast from the Kalalau Trail

About Me

My name is Mike Sandy. That's me in the background photo for this website. In the photo, I'm standing atop Mount Baldy's Main Chute in Utah on March 28, 2010. The chute drops into Alta Ski Area at a pitch of about 40 degrees from a spot just north of Mount Baldy's summit. Mount Baldy serves as the boundary between Alta and Snowbird, and it's accessible via a short hike from either ski area.

I'm originally from New York state, but I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2005 to ski at Snowbird while pursuing a graduate degree in finance. I completed my degree, despite Snowbird's best efforts at distracting me from my studies, and now I work in bank asset/liability management.

Outside of work, I pursue a wide range of interests, including skiing, hiking, travel, baseball, and photography. Those interests are the main focus of my articles and ski day reports. I also maintain a website that tracks the band 311's discography and their concerts I've attended, and a web-based app for creating custom PocketMod templates.

Connect with me on social media for my more extemporaneous content.

Thank you for visiting my website.

A Skier’s Journal

A Season of Exploration and Discovery at Snowbird

I wrote a book about my first ski season at Snowbird in Utah. It's about more than that, but that ski season is the basis upon which I relate other experiences (spoiler alert: also mostly about skiing).

Buy A Skier’s Journal More Information at ASkiersJournal.com


Excerpts

Preface

In July 2005, I quit my job and moved from New York to Utah to ski at Snowbird, a resort about thirty miles southeast of Salt Lake City. My lifestyle, however, didn’t fit the ski-bum archetype. During the ski season, I attended graduate school full-time at the University of Utah, and I lived on campus in a student apartment. I was just a regular guy living a regular life (as a student) while skiing some of the best snow and inbounds terrain in the United States.

After every ski day that season, I published a report on my website. While rereading those entries in late 2017, I felt detached from the experiences I had described. The passage of time allowed me to read them more objectively, and I enjoyed them for more than their nostalgic value. I thought other skiers might find the unspoiled nature of the entries compelling. In January 2018, I began compiling those entries into this book.

Stories in the skiing media often feature extreme terrain, impractical skiing-centric lifestyles, or easy access to seemingly endless fresh powder. This is not one of those stories. Instead, my story features terrain accessible to any advanced skier with a lift ticket, a skiing lifestyle tempered by school or work obligations, and the luck and persistence required to earn fresh tracks on powder days without the privileged access provided to pro skiers and the media.

I hope my story demonstrates what it took for a regular skier like me to explore a mountain and find the fleeting moments that make skiing special. I hope you can identify with the doubts and challenges I faced before, during, and after that season. Most of all, I hope my story leaves you feeling more excited about skiing after reading it.


Day 24: Epic Midweek Powder Day (Chapter 8)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Patience was not a virtue present in the tram line this morning. People were cutting in front of Brendan and me until I adopted a defensive stance using my poles. A gaggle of malcontents complained when the line didn’t start moving at the stroke of nine (the tram’s opening time). A few minutes later, a veritable riot broke out when the tram line ticket checker let a group of instructors and their clients through the turnstiles instead of the public. They heckled her until she started the public line moving again.

It has snowed for eleven straight days and seventeen of the last nineteen. About a hundred inches of snow has fallen at Snowbird since March 3, including a foot last night. At less than 5 percent water content, the new snow was about as light as it gets.

Given the new snow and our limited availability (we both had to leave at noon), there would be no warm-up run today. We headed to Primrose Path. The light was flat and gray, and visibility was maybe a hundred feet. Primrose was mostly untracked, but the wind had drifted the snow into heaps that were the deepest I had ever encountered on skis. I took a few cautious turns to find my balance before I opened the throttle and skied through the nearly waist-deep powder with gusto. The snow was so deep that I couldn’t seem to get enough speed, despite pointing my skis straight down the fall line. I fell twice when my skis started submarining without ever finding the bottom. Those falls were almost as fun as the skiing.

Farther down the mountain, Anderson’s Hill was also mostly untracked. Anderson’s had a bit less snow and none of the drifts. I maintained the speed necessary to stay afloat in the powder better there. The conditions on Phone 3 Shot were also superb. Snowbird had served up powder face shots from top to bottom.

Powder days already have a mystique, but today’s variable weather amplified it. Snow was lightly falling, but the sun would occasionally peek through breaks in the clouds to illuminate the crystalline flakes and the fluffy pillows of powder snow, transforming a flatly lit, two-dimensional scene into three dimensions and making it appear that we were skiing inside a shaken snow globe. Then the clouds would close up again, and it was back to flat light.

Despite the frenetic skiing activity, there was a pervasive stillness about the mountain, like a busy public library—quiet yet hectic. On most normal days, ski and snowboard edges loudly scratch against the snow surface. Today they were silent. The only persistent sounds were the skiers’ whoops and hollers and the gentle rustling caused by snow billowing up against my ski jacket. The concussive blasts of avalanche-control bombs and their roiling echoes throughout the canyon also occasionally broke the silence.

The snow conditions on the lower mountain were almost as good as up top. We skied laps off the Peruvian lift rather than wait in line for the tram. The sacrifice in vertical footage and terrain variety allowed us to squeeze in more runs during the limited time we had available. We skied Phone 3 Shot repeatedly during our Peruvian laps. It was that good. Although short, that run’s steep, consistent fall line and wind-loaded powder made it a better option than the adjacent Chip’s Face.

The tram line was still long at around 11 a.m., but we weren’t going to leave without taking at least one more tram run.

From the Peruvian Ridge, I surveyed the Lower Cirque’s wide-open, powder-filled bowl. Any line I picked was going to be good. I started down and quickly found a good rhythm. I maintained enough speed to stay on top of the snow better than on Primrose earlier in the day, but I still got face shots the entire run. That was a contender for my favorite ski run ever. Brendan quipped that he could hear Warren Miller narrating his turns during that run.

It was almost noon when we skied onto Snowbird Center’s Plaza Deck, but we got back in line for one last tram run. Alas, my last run of the day wasn’t as good as the prior one. The time was well past noon when we finished. We had to leave.

Life is messy, and it rarely feels dreamlike in the moment, but today was special. I think today might’ve been the real-life equivalent of the experiences I’ve been dreaming about having at Snowbird for over ten years.

After skiing, I showered and hustled to a computer lab on the University of Utah’s campus to work on a group project. My cheeks were still flushed from the earlier onslaught of snow, cold, and wind. The magnanimity generated by a ski day that hits all the right notes smoothed the tedium of the project work into something more tolerable. It helped that I still felt like I was floating through powder. Sea legs, dock rock, and stillness illness are colloquial names for illusions of self-motion that are usually described as rocking, bobbing, or swaying felt after an ocean cruise, airplane flight, or other exposure to sustained motion. Other powder days had produced this sensation, but it was more palpable today than ever.


Visit the book’s Amazon store page for a free sample.