Headed up to see the after effects of a big Saturday. Like heading into a trashed frat house after the cops come, the area was deserted and littered(with tracks, not Old Style beer cans) . Fully expecting to see some slide remnants in the bowls, but the reports of a slide in Benchie were just spray. Forty or so tracks in plain view. Plenty of snow testers exploring all aspects. Maybe a small fracture on skiers’ left side of Benchie, but nothing real significant and hard to tell as the area was laced with tracks on top of the possible remnants.
Greybird day and temperatures finally cooling off with the incoming front. No recent movement in Old Man’s, the right side stamped with tracks and a few poking into the first gully skier’s left of shrubbercross alley.
Took full advantage of the stability and headed left middle gully for the first time all year. One might even call it a, gasp, SKI CUT!!! Just kidding, can’t help myself. The snow was settled and surfy, no movement at all the run. Still some reef in the roll over gullies, but finally getting covered.
Some advice. 5 second rule. If you are going to delve into the middle of any open areas, you need to be able to ski your line all at once, with speed, without stopping on the cliff bands. Otherwise don’t bother. CMHing through these areas will get you pounded.
Headed out to the ridge and saw two small(30 ft wide) slab pockets had ripped on the lower skier’s right side of the West Wall. These were small shallow areas with no propagation or run distance (50 ft), an effect of the recent new snow on the sun baked east facing West Wall giving way.
Found good snow in the Forgotten Trees, shaded north facing, it provided good knee-deep pow skiing. Hit the lower cliff band in the trees and fractured a 20 foot circle of snow. Just collapsed, didn’t run but stopped me dead in my tracks. Time to look around and enjoy the solitude of the moment and the light snow starting to fall in the trees.
Found an undisturbed tree pocket next door to my landing to do a quick CT test and snow profile. 38 degrees, north facing, untouched. Perfect. Again not too much difference in the snow profile from other recent pits. 10 cms of fresh snow of 55 cms of slighlty denser old storm snow. At the bottom the less than fist density 3 mm facets still there to the ground.
105 cms total depth, -3 C air temp, -1C snow surface temp. CT column results were a little different from a couple of days ago.
CT-2 Q1 at 95 cms. Old snow/new snow interface, just the top fluff.
CT-17 Q3 at 35 cms. Again within the 3mm facets, but ragged and uneven.
Only did a single column, so no back up for the results. Just lots and lots of tracks. Lots.
Took advantage of the perfect weather to do a midnight skin up meadow mountain under the full moon on Tuesday with Luke and Paulie and dog. First group gathering gearing up for the AK world as it is now a countdown in days towards the end of the season. Surreal snow world cast in a ghostly bone white light, the trees and skin trail glowed brightly under the moon. We worked our way upward through the meadows and aspens while snow machines rallied around us, transferring partygoers from the trailhead to the cabin for a full moon party.
After a couple of hours we arrived at the cabin, drawn into the cabin by firelight and laughter. We arrived and were greeted warmly by the Mushroom people, speaking in tongues and smiling, They welcomed us to their fire with clicks and whistles and we obliged them. The light from Minturn and Vail were visible and the Gore range rose up in authority, bathed in blacklight.
The ski down was low angle and variable, pockets of stale powder, interrupted by frozen track chatter. Dog decided that snow machines were more fun and took off on us. Luke got a second lap around midnight back to the top by snow machine and a bonus ski down with the wayward mutt.
Headed out to EV on Wednesday afternoon in rising westerly wind and lowering, thickening grey clouds. Haven’t been back in some days, so again interested in what has transpired since last week. Hit the poma and was warned by an older guy passing by on the catwalk about the danger in the West Vail Chutes.
Top of the world and I saw tracks beaten in the usual places. Much of Benchmark is unrecognizable from last year and unskiable due to low snow, so the skier’s left side is hammered. Right side of West Wall, Tweeners and Tele Line all had tracks. No recent slide activity that I could see.
First time able to ski left past the initial cliff band and into the right center of Old Man’s. The upper scarp is still rock hard, Supportive dense wind buffed pow skied o.k and the roll over areas through the two cliff/reef areas held fast. About a dozen tracks littered the skier’s right side middle of the bowl, while the CDC area remains unskied. The bottom of Old’s had covered mounds of old debris.
First time cutting over to the MVP area from Old Man’s, wanting to see how the Forgotten Trees were skiing. Upper turns in the trees were more stale cake but fresh, as most of the other tracks headed straight. Came upon the first cliff band and side-stepped off a three-foot ledge onto a briefly steep(40 degree) open tree pocket after the rocks. Sunk to the ground and fractured a small area under the rocks that disintegrated like sand.
Took the opportunity of standing on terra firma and looking at a small but distinct fracture line to take a look at the snow. Not much change 2-3 m facets less than fist density, topped by slightly denser old and new storm snow. Any column cut still can’t stand on its own and fractures Q3 within the facets. No real surprise in stability. Still around 110 cms.
Ended up skiing 30 ft wide refilled bed surface pockets in the trees to get to the exit. Traversed out onto thin and crusty east face and onto the track out to the bus. Thin fast and littered with stumps and bushes, it is not fun. Biggest March ever.
New video is live! Some of our favorite hits from last year and a few bits footage left on the cutting room floor. Big air, cliff drops, deep pow, and tight trees…all the usual fare from us. We put this up to get psyched for the 2012 season…here’s to hoping it’s a lot like last year! The Black Keys provide the sounds.
Going BIG off a 40 footer in the East Vail Chutes. DEEP powder turns and some trees round out the run. EVI friends Big J and DJ were along for the trip. Nas provides the soundtrack. Stay Calm and Move Along.