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The Vail Daily and CAIC are wrong today.

Title of the Daily indicates moderation of the snow pack as reported by the CAIC. 

That might be true for the deep pack but today was punctuated by the dense new snow overlaying the colder lighter snow of days past, creating a fast moving reactive foot deep slab in the exposed upper scarps of EV.

This again illustrates the impossibility to accurately forecast micro zones in a huge area CAIC is responsible for. Also just bad timing.

EVI is asking for a small percentage of CAICs state funding to keep the EV field office open to supplement their forecast. And a red jacket please. Large.

Big Boy Pants

Special quick hitter. If you step out tomorrow morning bring you big boy pants.

Wind slab issues in the upper regions could be significant. Density differences in snow layers(new snow/old snow interface) with jet winds loading all zones will create touchy conditions tomorrow am in especially in the exposed uppers of runs.

With the weather clearing out…well let the games begin. Head on a swivel.

Merry Christmas.

Early Season and The Pineapple Right Side Up Cake

Yeya. The EV season is now in full swing with Christmas break new snow and blue skies popping out after an extended snow cycle. We went from fluffy light to Pac-NW mank  back to frigid and a last layer of light.

I started my EV season a day early. I knew this when I sank through two feet of quick sand above a downed log following a ski partner who was 50 pounds lighter, faster and on a pair of appropriate rock pow skis. Descending through the lower steep outs I was furiously trying to save my only pair of Blizzard Bodacious by going to slow across the punji pits and rocks. Suddenly I found myself doing  the one-handed downward dog in the snow below me, other hand on a pine tree to keep my buried leg from snapping like a bread stick, all the while in full screaming semen position. After several tense minutes of  blindly poling my left Guardian, I managed to free one boot and after kicking the crap out of the other Guardian I completed the half cartwheel into a tree well. One day early for sure.

The next wave of wind fucked high moisture spackle created a decent base to cover the reef and downfall. The waves of snow, for the most part, have come in right side up. Starting warm(really warm) and ending colder, then followed by warm days, has helped our snow pack.  There was activity in Old Mans from a cornice fall down the middle gullies, but the whole bowl has yet to drop, and it might not.  West Wall had some minor runs as well, but nothing of note. Please note, there is no Marvin Gardens run in East Vail. That’s monopoly. Marvin’s, bro on the bus.

I went to check it out on a rare Saturday afternoon as the 303 carpenter ants were flooding from the carmel apple after devouring the 10 inches. Luckily the eastern resorts called big  numbers and it was limited shit show. Or it was all over by 9:12 and all the warriors were done. That Saturday showed nothing new activity wise.  Actually a spectacular Benchie run. Add frigid temperatures to lock up the moisture and we will see how thing progress.

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Add blue skies to the mix and you know its gonna be on for reals. I’d like to send a shout out to the Sunny=Safe ski club teeing up the left side of the west wall. There are two kinds of tracks people put down there. First, the people who know that the area is notorious for pulling out above the cliffs after six of the nicest tree turns you could ever hope for. Their tracks do not stop above the cliff band and exit like something is chasing them. These people are wise.

The second are the ones that ski the trees,  then traverse to an area above the cliffs and stop. Then they have lunch, shoot selfies and eventually pick their way through the cliffs with CMH shvedle turns. Today, the evidence points to the latter.  These people are wearing their beacon as an amulet and burn sage on top of the run to guarantee  their safety. These are unwise people.  However, the S and S crew might be onto something. They might have assessed the snow pack correctly. Maybe, but keep burning that sage team.

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#VailLivesMatter

Well I guess this is our 2017 season pregame post. The weather is balmy and with a lack of any terminal snow game time anticipation is a bit delayed.  My internal clock tells me the time is near. Time to roam acres of backcountry and leave the valley bottom behind.

Complaints about this time of year? None. The East Vail trails are mostly empty, the hiking and biking are sublime. The town is slowly waking. Its a time to savor. Before this.

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Smells Like Front Range

 

 

Been entertaining myself with some ideas for creative funding for our nebulous non-profit. With sticker profits holding steady at 4 bucks over the last four years its time to think outside the box.

I’ve come up with this. The above photo is the reality of Vail on the weekends. Yet Vail trail maps are adorned with photos like this.

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From 830 to 833 AM on Saturday

 

I believe a 1,000,000,000 dollar class action lawsuit on behalf of #VAILLIVESMATTER(our  rouge paramilitary strike-force) for false advertising against VR will provide us with the massive funding that we really don’t need.  We’ll settle out of court for a dollar and some envelopes.

But really Vail lives do matter. Before the main Vail exit is renamed Parking Lockers n’ Such, we do need to ask where does skiing experience and local flavor/businesses figure into the profit matrix of VR? Do lift lines you can see from space actually help?

Despite VR ‘s development of an Area 51 type compound in eastern Colorado where they are rumored to be developing cutting edge “chimp control” technology that will render the need for actual human workers obsolete, at the present time there is a need for actual people here year round.  They’re called locals and they need places to live.

Also ski pass prices should be based on billing addresses. It’s an expanding circle, increasing in cost as it hits the front and rear range areas. Sorry if you moved to Eagle/Gyptucky you sold out, you know it  Pay the piper. By the time the pass shockwave hits Lakewood and Thorton it should be around $6,000 per pass. This is based on an algorithm that factors actual positive economic impact vs. negative psychological and physical impact on our town, snow and people. Just an idea.

Hang tough everyone, winter is on its way. Times have changed but the game is the same. I recommend find a new hobby on Saturdays to keep sane.

Season Wrap-up(Except There’s a Ton of Snow Left So..)

Broke, tan and happy, I sold my surf truck today in Paia, Maui.  The small pile of wet hundos from Beau would help get the Astro van out of  DIA auto lock-up in the Pikes Peak lot.   After three weeks, it was going to cost a bit.

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Maui

 

Throw in a little heli-skiing around a Maui trip and life is good. Quality over quantity for me with my budget up in AK.  ASG didn’t have to accommodate me during a busy end of season. They did. Mahalo fellas, see you next year for sure.

I love driving in AK. My primary life vehicle is a dilapidated 2001 Astro Van that looks like it’s been taken apart and put back together by border patrol a few times, so when given a New Taurus SLE with 5 miles on it at the Budget rental car counter, its on. Even rocketing down the Glenn Allen at 100 or so, the Chugach range view changes its appearance ever so slowly as my kinetic energy takes me closer to Valdez.

The trip is about the people, the town and the skiing. Eating breakfast with the proclaimed “King of Valdez”, Pat Olson, Chugialk tribe member, SAG member(worked with Bart the Bear and  that douche Streven Segal), original heli-skier, fastest fish filet in AK (3 seconds down at the town docks) all around Valdez OG is enlightening and fascinating. Pre WESC day stories of Valdez skiing are fascinating.  10 buck runs. Nobody around. I sit and eat my Totem Slam, nod my head and listen.

AK every spring…

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The Heli Awaits…

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Always Reasons Not To Go to AK, But….

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Couple Options…

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AK Snow Machine Trailer

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The B-3 Awaits

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Something Had To Burn

Old Snow New Snow

What do you get with a foot of new on top of a 3 week old skating rink?

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Crown on the Rocks anyone?

That is all…

“Vail’s Flat Bruh”

The title of this post came from a  caption of a satellite screen shot of EV I was emailed from  a company called FatMaps, a UK based company, as they were pitching their avalanche safety and  3d mapping ski app and recruiting me to write the beta for it.

I had weathered some earlier bullshit from them but still was intrigued a bit as the app and satellite technology were cutting edge. The local guy Matt seemed pretty cool, who he represented turned out to be cheap, arrogant and out of touch with US skiing. But I thank them because up until this point EVI has lacked a cause and I haven’t been interested in posting the same shit about the same runs.  Our cause? Repel the euro 3d satellite invasion into our local backcountry.

In preparation, I watched the movie Red Dawn 10 times last night, the original of course, not that remake crap. I’m ready.

Let’s say the tables were turned, and I had a company called Saucy Maps and I wanted info on our FatMaps homies local break. Being based in the UK, I assume that would be Mad Cow mountain in the Northern Snaggletooth range.  I wouldn’t send them satellite images of their mountain with headers like “Your Mom was in Clockwork Orange” trying to get local knowledge from them.

The title of this post came from the caption of a satellite screenshot they sent me of what they thought was East Vail. I know the knock on Vail, I’ve heard it. I sure don’t need to hear it from someone who is trying to get my knowledge of an area that I like and is decidedly not flat. These people also needed to be told to put the trees back in the satellite relief images they had of East Vail to make it more realistic. For reals. Also, if you shift your satellites a little north there’s something called the Gore Range. Enough said.

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This run was worth more than 10 bucks to me. You?

Regardless of the application of this technology it is EVI’s opinion that EV skiing should never be for profit. And FatMaps can market the app for “safety”, but don’t kid yourself. Its for money.  There is also a concern that this app will give inexperienced people a false sense of security by mapping “runs” in what is uncontrolled terrain, taking the place of experience, training and working a skill progression that allows a gradual introduction to an area.  My question is when a Denver tech-savy  at-risk youth grabs a float pack, pays 29.95 and snaps open a FatMap  app, then comes out here and gets smoked is there a customer service 800 number they can call?  Country code first remember…

I think the technology itself is cool. I think that in Europe where unmarked objective hazards lurk everywhere in massive alpine ski centers the route finding aspect is useful. And I’m sure the deal will appeal to someone’s ego enough that EV will get mapped. I’m personally not in a hurry for technology to demystify a unique and special area that deserves respect even from high-powered IMGA alpine guides with fancy technology.  Who have never skied here.

See ya on the skin track.

Martineast.

 

Selling of the Soul of EV

I was approached by the devil.

He said, “you know a place. I want to know it to. I’ll give you shiny things and make you feel like a big man.”

“What do I have to do?” I said.

“Tell me it’s secrets.” He said with a black grin, “if you don’t someone else will.”

-East Vail Parable

 

It’s a critical period in the development of the snowpack. Periods of warm clear weather between snowfalls early season combined with the warm ground leads to the changing of the fallen snow into a loose facet layer. Surface hoar will also be developing and tends to stick around in wind protected areas to be buried by future snowfall, creating a good failure layer as well.  The longer the periods between early storms the worse the deterioration in the early season snow. Facet and surface hoar layers have been known to “heal” within the snow pack with consistent temps and snowfall over time. Usually, for us, the base layer of facets sticks around for us for a good while, until redistributed by a slide cycle.

The exposed West Wall areas will begin developing its series of crust layers caused by the high, intense sun on the E facing snow, warming then refreezing at night.  All aspects will be eagerly waiting for a big November dump to initiate the first cycle of the year. This is speculation, but based on the typical pattern of early season snow pack development, it’s a decent guess.

Wasn’t too long between these last two storms, so that is a good thing. It does look like another extended period of warming clear weather on tap after tomorrow, so we will start the pattern again, and keep our eyes peeled.  A solid dump in Vail today with a light 8 inches on the deck in West Vail, moderate wind, cold temps. Yeya.

Hope to have an actual snow report from up there before too long.

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After the first storm, before the second.

2015/2016 Season Preview

Bam!

8 hours by air, three stops at various hot springs and paradise has been effectively leached from my bones.  I know what you are thinking. How, why, would you leave the land of surfing, bikinis and 85 degree turquoise water? Especially at my advancing age, it’s exactly what you are supposed to do… let youthful follies such as EV fade into the rearview and start concentrating soft hobbies like Scrabble, clam-digging and turtle watching. Leave that world to the youthful senders.

True, I don’t stay out as late as used to and hangovers have to be scheduled but I’m not quite dead yet.  I will always be a skier, and that’s really what it comes down to. I discussed this with Deuce as he sat lounging by a pool in California with his girlfriend. He was basking in luxury and happiness but all he could think about was the storm back here. Knowing full well there is an entire season ahead, it still was eating at him. This powder thing, its a powerful addiction. Luckily it’s a healthy one or I would have been dead a long time ago.

So, for what it’s worth, EVI is back in some shape or form. Looking forward to passing along the antics of the locals and weekend warriors alike for another year. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Good things about being a master’s division EV skier. . I don’t hear well, so don’t bother 2. I probably don’t remember you or why you’re mad.

here’s to a safe year all.

Martineast.

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J-dog gets his fix. 11/6/15

Colorado, Alaska, and a Viking Funeral…

It’s been a year since I split to Maui and longer since the last post on this site and after a year on the rock I was ready to delve back into the winter world….especially after watching a 10 foot tigershark swim through the lineup at the Cove break in south Maui the Saturday before I left. Check please…

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Missed the entire season so this has little relavence to anything East Vail, but I found  my way back to Vail for closing day debauchery and got on the hill for one day. An after closing Roger’s Run was nothing short of epic.

Able to hook up with Deuce, Dave and Matt L. and his Dad for some quality over quantity turns on Vail pass after the late season storm rolled through bringing north winds and a couple feet of snow layered on top of a firm spring pack. We saw no natural avi activity on any aspect, save for some sun warming on S and E aspects with minor rollerballs and sluffing off sun warmed rock areas.  The skiing was creamy goodness on the N and W.

Matt's nice double Uneva peak

Matt’s nice double Uneva peak

Hooked back up with Dave to take a look around Berthoud pass for a day. Fraser and Winter Park are areas so close to Denver but managing to stay funky and rural. Good terrain and access and got 20 inches from the same storm. Pretty settled by the time we got to it. We ended up grabbing some low hanging fruit off the top for some more good spring skiing.

This high altitude training was in preparation for the AK leg of my trip. I was hoping surfing and hiking would keep me in the game for the microseason but there was some time needed to sweat out the Mai Tais  and salt water. Two choices on my first few runs, stroke out or make it to the summit following tech binding tourers. Touch and go for the first few laps but luckily I made it on the big  skis and Dukes. Oh yeah, I can still say the alphabet too. Success.

Berthoud

Berthoud Pass

Hit Girdwood AK at the tail end of a low snow year salvaged by a big April but then hit by big rain down low the week before I arrived. It left low to no snow on lower elevations but still significant snow up high. The season was very warm overall and produced a rapidly destabilizing isothermic snowpack that was slowly creeping upwards in elevation with each warm spring day. Pretty much nailed the last few days of the season on the pass.

Turnagain pass on the Kenai peninsula offers some of the coolest touring terrain.  There is an epic non-motorized side that preserves the gnar for those willing to sweat for it (leave your Epic passes and credit cards at home).

With the low snow pack putting the kibosh on a motorized season on the other side of the pass, Turnagain was silent and empty. Exactly what I was looking for after a year on an island with 144000 people. What I missed most for the last year was mountain air…nothing like it.

Pastoral and Kickstep

Pastoral and Kickstep. Got to earn these….

Three days of beautiful weather allowed me to tour and window shop for future trips while skiing some fun stuff. The spine walls were mostly melting out so staying safe and on supportable snow on N and W aspects was paramount.  S facing slopes were heading rapidly towards a large shed cycle and cornice failures were already causing step down wet slides. Some superficial melt freeze with the clear skies during the time I was there, but the pack was waterlogged down low and the ship had sailed on the season. Glad I got what I could.

 Cornice chunk from Sunburst ridge...different group

Cornice chunk from Sunburst ridge.

The end of the trip for me signified also the end of an era in gear. That’s right, the 207s,  (196s after I chopped the skegs off with a hacksaw for better touring capabilities) time had come.

Just chucking them seemed too mundane, so in true Sunset Rider Inc. fashion( a subsidiary of  EVI) a Viking funeral was the only option. I grabbed a lighter and some lighter fluid from the Tesoro at the Alyeska turnoff and headed out to the Portage Glacier for a ritual sacrifice. It’s AK, you can burn shit pretty much where ever you want.

Valhalla!

Valhalla!

Learned that Maker Dukes explode when burned and that it takes some doing to send the 207s to Vahalla, but finally they went. One way to save on baggage fees headed back to the rock…

Aloha!

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