Tag Archive | east vail

A Tale of Two Seasons

While half the crew enjoyed a second season in AK, the rest of us watched the snow melt as the mountain closed lift by lift, and ultimately, shut down last week for the 2012 season. Good riddance. For the past two months, I had been looking more forward to the sounds of sitars and Thievery Corp than the skiing. Armada Bubbas looking sad and lonely in the corner, maybe next year, friends.

The little bit of last second snow was almost a cruel joke, just covering up fallen trees and dirt patches long enough to get a couple final runs in. And honestly, the first few hours of closing day were some of the best of the year, as sad as that sounds. Why I’m even writing about a 7 inch powder day, I don’t know…other than to summarize the bookend season we had. If last year was the best of times, this was surely the worst of times. Seeing what EV could be on both ends of the precipitation scale told a tale of two seasons.

If anything, a good year to test your snow science skills. If you had none, it was a good year to get some. Silverton Avy School, et al. earned their keep this year, with plenty of examples to show would be snow gurus. EV dictated same, with what seemed like a slide a day. Fortunately, only a few serious injuries in Mushie and no deaths in EV. The rest of Colorado and the ski world as a whole wasn’t as lucky. A constant reminder in skiing, where the crossroads of freewill and inherent risk intersect.

Waxing philosophic aside, a pile of bones was about all that was left to poke at here in Vail. Full on summer now, so enjoy the off season. Get strong, train, ride your bike, go hike, get on the river, get swole, get ready for what will hopefully be a better season next year. If not there’s always the great white North. AK on the mind…see you next year.

2/22/12 Gluttony and the Reset Button 2/23/12

Out in to the 11 inch day at Vail yesterday on my day off.  Skied  inbounds for a couple nice runs and then headed out to see the conditions in EV.  We seem to have avoided the big winds predicted for Wednesday and the new snow was accompanied by warm temps and layered in the resort like spackle.  After waiting for openings, the sounds of bombs filling the air, we headed up the Poma.  Took notice of the ski patrol bomb holes on the way out.  No significant movement from any of the charges on the steep east face above the catwalk, just some isolated cracking around the blast holes. Looking around at the other black marks in China and Blus Sky and again, no activity.

The last three days I’ve been poking, prodding and stomping around, looking for evidence of instability with the recent winds and then the 11 inches that turned into a foot and a half in EV. We started our day in Tweeners, taking the opportunity to break small burgeoning cornice chunks along the way. As with the previous days, nothing.  Some minor shedding of the upper wind affected scarp areas, but theses natural slab breaks were tiny and only ran a few feet.

The skiing in Tweeners was again accompanied by no movement whatsoever.  No sluffing and no slab release in the upper concave wind affected face.  The lower triangle face held again and we were off into the trees to enjoy some deep freshness. So far so good.

Second run we decided to get back to the Old Man.  Old Man’s had sat unskied for a few days.  With the ridge top winds,  this was going to put our observations to the test.  We spent a good fifteen minutes taking turns trundling stove sized cornice chunks down into the scarp area.  We made a mess of things in the upper entrance, but completely necessary to see if anything would step down into the rollover faces that ran last week.  Again watched the chunks impact and explode, with no results.

Stepped into the right side, J leading the charge and sent it. Watch as his tracks laced the right side again with no movement, sluffing cracking or slab release of any kind. Luke and I followed one at a time,  meeting up at a safe area in the right tree stand.  We all kind of looked at eachother. Holy shit, a day of deep snow and moderate stability.  I couldn’t believe it either. Looking up, we could see that the second rollover face was still not filled in completely from last week and shark fins protruded from the thin snow. No visible naturals anywhere we could see. Spacklefest was on.

The factors?.  I don’t claim to know why this was possible, but the dense wet  snow, warm temps and little wind helped. The weak layers are still down there in the pack but at least today they were dormant.

Third run Luke and I had EV to ourselves and took out time to enjoy a lenghty skin.  We took a slow boat out to our favorite actual East Vail Chute and took time digging a pit and doing some CT tests.  We should have a video of the CT results and a brief gratuitous pow video to view soon. Again, the snow was deep and unreactive.  Skiing pow without having to dodge bullets every turn was a nice change, if only for a day.  We got out of EV finally around 5 pm.  We were powder gluttons for sure, and our cup runneth over today.  A whole large pizza then sleep.

Woke up, muscles tired and groggy. Looked out the window to see that reset button has been pushed again.  Another four inches and dumping at 7 am, with the winds up and no visibility.  Not assuming anything about snow today as weather conditions are drastically different.  Start at square one with the progression of runs and snow assessment again. Headed out to see what is going on in the ever-changing world of EV  Looks like second season is on and the storms are starting to track our way. Let you know.

EVI Retraction/Report 2/20/12

Our first official retraction.  It was bound to happen. I swore off Tweeners, but today I cracked. Faced with the  snow(although not the 39 inches in Steamboat) and increasing winds overnight, potential for wind slabs and stories emerging about tragic, multi fatality accidents like the one at Stevens Pass had me eating my words and standing down from anything open and wind loaded.

Although the accident happened two thousand miles away, the account resonates with every backcountry traveler. The world we hang out in is actually a small one. Experienced and using safe zones used for years.  Scary. 100, 500 year cycles?  Not even the most snow savy traveler can predict the end result when forces collide and all the variables line up for a huge avalanche cycles measured in centuries, not decades. We humans on our sliding sticks are capable of some entertaining things in these areas, but we are not in control.

Headed up solo first thing, got past the masses and ended up behind only DPS and J, no surprise there.  Nice to hang out with some long time friends up top with no one else around.

About six new in EV, but of course the prevailing north winds filled in areas deeper. Left Abe’s for the crew behind us and skied Tweeners.

Three tracks in and not really even a sluff.  The only sign of any slide  activity was a small natural in Old Man’s at the point where the slide ripped last Wednesday, the new  snow not holding on the old bed surface. We were the first out so not sure what went down afterwards with more traffic. Find out tomorrow.

Had a nice day in the trees and let the Old Man be.

2/16/12 Hey Buddy/West Wall Revisit

Saw a two guys I recognized from yesterday at the Pitkin stop again today.  Geared up, waiting for the bus  and ready for battle in EV.  MFD all-time/ Pontoons and his buddy mid-fat Atomics/ Naxos (the worst AT binding of all-time, sent myself to VVMC on those things).  Asked them about yesterday, what they saw and such. Just interested in their observations from a big cycle day.

Didn’t think anything of it until I got to the bus stop after my lap. Saw MFD Pontoons standing alone. Said hey and inquired about the whereabouts of mid -fat Atomic.  MFD said that his buddy kicked off and lost a ski. He was now alone in the Racquet Club chute.  I asked him, matter-of – fact, why he wasn’t he with him? The answer.

MFD said that mid-fat didn’t know where he was exactly in the chute, but MFD had a good idea where he was.  He was in touch by cell phone and was going to go around, find him then render aid.(Really?)

MFD said Mid-fat knew from yesterday that his bindings were “loose”, and he should’ve cranked them down, but ignored his advice. (punishment for using Naxos?)

Loaded the bus and sat watching MFD render aid by text.

When it hits the fan, who do you know that you can trust to keep their head and help you? How do you know?  Solo missions might get a bad rap, but is it better than having a useless partner? Finding able partners isn’t the easiest thing, and might not be the buddy who is leading you into EV.  No easy answer.

Went to check out the West Wall slide from yesterday. My personal powder hunting tempered by the recent events.  Hit the ridge on a beautiful sparkling morning, with a couple of inches of fresh again as the snow cycle remnants moved through. Not many people out.

Checked out the track in the skier’s right side of the Wall that was put down by the skier who triggered the slide.  He skied the first gully skier’s right  in the Wall where you can sneak through through cliff band with minimal/ no air.  A small sluff on the line, but that seemed to not relate to the actual avalanche.   The actual slide was remotely triggered 75 feet to the skier’s left of the track towards the middle of the bowl. The crown was a foot to two feet deep.

West Wall Crown

Dug a pit on the 25 degree lead in to the roll over in the middle of the Wall, above the small, butried rock band that lines the top. Representative of the E aspect, but not the incline, as the face below the band rolls into the  thirties at least and gets more sun than where I was going to dig.  Heres what I saw.

Air temp: 3 C

Surface temp: 3 C

0-60 cms: 3mm facets/ fist –

60-70cms: melt/freeze crust/ pencil

70-80 cms: .5 mm facets(coulmns?) fist –

80-145 cms : .5 mm sintered rounds/ 4 finger

145-160 cms: .5 to 1mm stellars (new snow)/fist –

Thick crust with small, loose facets above the crust, below the dense, sintered old storm snow. Significant temp gradient around the crust.

West Wall Pit

Did a couple CT tests.

Here’s what I saw.

First column: CT-12 at 65cms Q1.  Ran on the facets above the MF crust.

Second column: CT-2 Q2 at 35 cms. This column ended up next to an evergreen shrub. Broke within the depth hoar. Interesting the crust was knife hard around the shrub area.

Filled in my pit and headed out to the bus on a Tele Line ridge run.  No obvious new activity.

Another Mushroom burial/injury on 2/16, not sure of all the details.  Heard that the Kitchen was the place of the first accident a couple of days ago, not sure the exact location of this one, but Mushie strikes again.

EVI, Be My Valentine…

What better a day to grab that powder loving guy or gal and take them out to EV to get the love juices flowing?  The overcast to broken skies with S-1 light snowfall and blending from light to calm winds ((L) 1-16 mph) didn’t deter the most discerning of inamorata/inamorato from blazing up the skin track to the top of Benchie and dropping in to profess their passion for the goods with some fine pow turns and  periodic wails of pleasure and ecstasy.  On the “Danger Rose” (oooh that’s sexy) one could profess that the “dangerous love” was at least considerable on the NW-S facing aspects…  Those not blinded by the considerable chance at some likely “rough lovin” could get their moderately risky business done on the W & SW facing slopes.  Tracks abound and no shame (recent debaucherous activity) in sight… the powder lovers were painting their affection all over the big white fluffy canvass with big S-Turns abound.  Only a few dysfunctional examples of tracks seen hitting the top drops off Old Man’s, traversing skier left over the first cliffs in Old’s then directly over to the northern cliffs two-thirds the way down the open +35 degree avg. aspect, the prominent CDC cliff band. Not sure that relationship is really going to last, but one could conjecture that love makes some behave in some very incredibly peculiar ways.

Linked up with Marty, the legendary wing-man himself, to not only get our powder fix of the day, but to also put a cross hair on our beloved snowpack and shoot it straight in the heart.  We sought to identify a deadly problem that has been plaguing some unfortunate riders recently.  We’ve all seen the recent reports of the very gruesome reciprocation that the star-crossed snowpack has taken out on members of the BC riding community.  The trend of doom has been below treeline in some very precarious terrain traps and that is where some more careful examination is due.  From the “hasty” and not so hasty test pits of the season, it’s about lovin time we drop some SWAG on this very problem.  Freshly and stalely outfitted with the latest in snow-nerd standards, we figured it’s about time to throw down and get neck deep in the business.  What is the problem that we are dealing with?  In short, deep persistent weak layers releasing the majority of the top of the snow pack on an interface between the buried depth hoar and the upper “cake” layer of the good stuff.  So let the intricate romance with our naughty snowpack begin…  (this would be way more bad-ass with snowpilot, but whatever).

2/14/2012 @ 2:30pm on Forgotten Trees with an elev. 10,200-10,400 (estimated from topo).

Small clearing in trees on N-facing Aspect below treeline of 30 degrees. 

Sky:  Fluctuating from broken to overcast.  Wind:  Calm to Light.  Temp Air:  -6.5 deg C.  Precip:  Very Light (S-1).

Boot Pen:  Balls Deep, Yeah, that’s what she said…  Type:  Profile Pit.  Temp Surface @ 150cm:  -6.5 deg. C

No Red Flags besides the low-moderate obvious wind loading of leeward aspects.

<150    DF’s    (decomp & frag. precip particles)  1.5mm          F+              -6.5 deg. C       
140    DF’s    (decomposing & frag. precip part.)  1.5mm          F+              -6.0 deg. C
130    DF’s    (decomposing & frag. precip part.)  1.5mm          F                 -6.0 deg. C 
120    FCsf    (near surface faceted particles)      1-2mm          F                -5.5 deg. C
110    FCxr    (Rounding Faceted Particles)         1.0mm          F                 -5.0 deg. C
100    RG’s    (Rounded Grains)                               0.5-1.0mm   F                 -4.5 deg. C
90    RG’s      (Rounded Grains)                               1.0mm          <95cm 4F  -4.0 deg. C 
80    RG’s      (Rounded Grains)                               1.0mm          4F               -3.5 deg. C
70    RG’s      (Rounded Grains)                                1.0mm         4F                -3.0 deg. C
60    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                         3.0mm         <60cm F+   -2.5 deg. C
50    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -2.0 deg. C
40    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -2.0 deg. C
30    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -1.5 deg. C
20    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -1.0 deg. C
10    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -1.0 deg. C 

0     Ground

Did a very nice ECT (Extended Column Test) 30cm deep X 90cm wide X to 120cm deep from surface, back cut out.

Results yielded:  ECT23Q3(PC)… the whole 150cm down to 60cm collapsed on the interface (if you can remember the December surface hoar produced by endless clear days and cold clear nights) ~60-63cm is where the ECT collapsed but did not shear.  This indicated a collapse and even propagation, but no sudden planar or resistant planar shear @ 30 deg.  So that would put us at ECTP23.    Read from that what you will… in leymans’ that’s a deep persistent weak layer that will propagate distances, collapse and cause instability in the snowpack, hence, most aspects on the CAIC Rose being rated as considerable.  Watch out for higher angle slopes that will cause the upper layer to collapse as well as shear and slide. 

That’s all the snow-geek and SWAGger I got for ya!  hopefully you were suave and savvy enough to get your significant other’s adrenaline and love potion pumping with you’re superior shredability out in EV today.  If you didn’t here’s some snow porn to help you thru tomorrow…   but remember, never trust a hoar, no matter how deep you bury it (Whammy!).

2/9/10-2/10 Chance of Snow

Chance of snow. Finally.  No hundred percent chance of sixteen inches that leaves us like a jilted bride at the altar.  Chance, that’s all we ask here in the Vail valley. My favorite forecast.

Currently snowing here, and Thursday/ Friday provided the best EV skiing of the year, but with different stability indications.  Yesterday, stomping the edge of the yet to be formed cornice of Old Man’s with skis sent the 60-80cm of wind load to the egde of the frying pan with an easy shear, but did not propagate or step down in the rollover gulley past the first flats. (This measurement is rough and only is at the very top of the run at the start of the rollover where the cornice usually forms.)

Friday, at the same place, with  renewed wind load even deeper, around 80 cm, the same test produced no shear and moderate cracking that didn’t fully break. Soft slab blocks stood perched on edge, but refused to drop and run.


Skiing was excellent both days, the snow on Friday was thicker and sprayed like spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on each turn as we got into the midddle of the bowl. The snow stayed knee-deep and fresh all the way through. Watched a group of four ski left Benchie with no results. The tracks in West Wall, Tele Line, Benchie produces no slides that I could see.  Didn’t have much movement on my run and only minor sluffing running the right middle concave gully.  The following four tracks had only minor surface pockets moving a very short distance.  The upper part of the pack seems to be stronger than it was a week ago,  Definitely interesting to see the change in 24 hours with the same rudimentary test in the same place.

Super big Saturday with the Teva games in town and the mountaineering race ends up at Benchie.  Will racers and EV skiers be battling for the same skin track?   Much pressure this weekend and hope the seeming increasing stability is for real.

Also, check out this TGR blog if you haven’t already.


Friday / Saturday Observation

The trip to EV on Friday was an interesting one. Without a doubt best pow turns of my season, however it was also the most high stake avi danger day as well. Had multiple signs of weak snow pack, wind, numerous whoomfs, cracks, and even triggered a few small slides on both open faces and trees north-through-east. The aspect skiers right of our line had slid rather large and rather disturbingly as it is a line I have skied weekly in past seasons. Martineast recapped the day well here and I only regret not having a camera to take some shots.

In an effort to feed the need Saturday, I went out all geared up for another EV lap, keeping in mind I would most likely be turning back and skiing in-bounds with a fully loaded pack. After some quality lift chair time I reached the top of Sourdough and decided I’d keep my self busy with some beacon training and to check the snow to see if the drop in temperature had improved the snow pack.

After beacon basin, I searched to find areas which represented the terrain I had been skiing yesterday and just as I had expected, the snow was still rotten — super rotten.  Below are pics from a “hasty pit” I dug in a north-east facing tree’d area similar to the terrain and aspect where I had encountered the most activity two days prior.

Looking at the photos, you do not need to be a snow scientist to understand what is causing the high risk conditions in our surrounding area. Keep in mind, this photo was taken on a treed northeastern slope, the same aspect as many tree lines in EV.

The photo above with the shovel clearly illustrates the newly fallen snow on a super consolidated layer created by warm temps and wind supported by an extremely faceted snow layer. After digging and looking at the snow I was convinced to turn around.

With the newly fallen snow Saturday night / Sunday morning, it will be hard to resist heading out for some fresh turns. The already crazy high avalanche danger persists.  This pit shows that even in the trees and in areas we may think are safe, we aren’t.  Stay inside the ropes for now…

Commentary: EVI

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a pretty steep rise in the number of visits to the site, which is great. It has occurred to us through a few recent comments that perhaps it’s time to restate what we’re all about, and not about, at EVI.

Our goal has always been to promote back country safety and improve the quality of riders in the zone. If we’re doing a disservice to EV users by encouraging proper equipment use and issuing warnings during questionable snow conditions, color us confused. While the majority of the feedback has been positive, from the beginning, we’ve realized the possibility of blowback was there.

There will be people who feel like we’re opening Pandora’s box. Like we’re stealing their kool-aid. Like we’re running tours out to EV with Japanese tourists wearing Mickey mouse backpacks. Well, we’re not.

At the end of the day, 200+ people are using EV on a daily basis. If you think EV is a secret, you’re living in candy land. If anyone thinks we are solely responsible for the increase in EV use, thanks. That’s flattering, but we’d be happy to share our site metrics with anyone who asks…we simply don’t have that kind of reach.

There are numerous other factors at work accounting for the increase in use of EV terrain which we all see on a daily basis (read: side country / back country marketing from the ski media). It seems that anyone these days can be an expert by purchasing skins, taking a CPR class, and heading out past Chair 21. These folks will be back there whether EVI exists or not. If they have some semblance of back country education, we’re all in a better position.

At the end of the day, we have always considered ourselves as a supplement to the CAIC and an on the ground reporting tool trusted by those who frequent the zone and know the ever changing snow conditions. Certainly, keeping the EV zone a place that everyone can enjoy is a paramount concern for us all.

Hopefully, this clears up some confusion. From here on out, any comments about the site, or about us, can be directed here. We welcome cogent comments that contribute to the discussion, even criticism of our methods, so long as the argument is supported with fact, not opinion. Outright inflammatory statements about our users or us probably won’t be posted. It just clutters the site and detracts from what we’re trying to promote.

Going forward, we hope this clears some things up. If you still hate us, move along…hopefully the guy above you has done his homework.

1/16/12 Avi Warning for EV- beacon training

Well I guess the prayer worked, as the snow started falling around seven a.m. at my place in East Vail. Spent yesterday at the beacon park at top of Sourdough lift with my buddy Paul, who was off to the  Peter Esten hut on Monday. It had been awhile since I had practiced intensely with my beacon and I was eager to try out my Tracker 2. I think overall most backcountry users, myself included, don’t practice beacon searches enough. There is also a contingent that treats them like an amulet, something that you turn on and forget, hoping it wards off the avalanches, with really no clue how to use them. I challenge all of us to get out and practice, especially in the face of the incoming storms and the avi warning issued for the Vail area.

A beautiful bluebird, insanely crowded day was a perfect opportunity to try out the BCA beacon park. Paul and I went through several mock scenarios, including multiple burials. We also had a guest appearance by local shralper Nathan Cook, 12, who has skied EV 3 times and wanted to get some practice in . I gave him my beacon and let him at it. His time would put most backcountry “experts” to shame. Nice work Nathan!

The biggest factor in a recovery is the human one, as even in practice sessions your heart rate soars and stress level rises. Imagine now how much that would be intensified if it was real and your friend was dying. Practice is essential to learn to operate a beacon effectively in a life or death situation when things are hitting the fan. With such a top-notch beacon practice area, there is really no excuse for any of us in the EV community not to be proficient. Under three minutes is a good goal for a single burial. Multiple burials are more complex and pose difficult choices for a single rescuer. When practicing, try to make it as real as possible. Make up a story, outline the “avi path” give your rescuer details about slide width, direction and last seen point.

Heres a quick overview of what should be the basic progression of a response to an avalanche accident if you are responding.
First, yell AVALANCHE!. Let everyone know, even if you are alone, do it. Next, mark your last seen point of you victim. You don’t want to waste valuable time searching above this point. Before you head to that point, turn your beacon to receive and make sure all of your party does the same. Turn and watch them do it. Would hate to be chasing another rescuer around while someone is waiting to breathe.

Have your probe ready and initiate the search. Stay on you skis and ski to the last seen point in the slide path. Start zig zagging back and forth twenty meters apart, ten meters from the sides of the avalanche until you get a signal, then use your recently honed beacon skills to zero in on the signal. Check every piece of ski equipment and clothing you might come across, as someone might be attached to that glove, that ski. Once you get within five to ten meters of the signal, get off your equipment and start your fine search using the grid method to pin point the smallest reading and begin probing. Probe in a concentric circle twelve inches apart until you get a strike. Practicing probing is very important so you can “feel” what it’s like to strike a backpack or wood practice box. Once you have a strike, LEAVE THE PROBE IN and begin digging. Do not dig straight down, but excavate the area to the downhill side of the strike and use the conveyor belt method(check out the you tube video on this). Get to the person’s head and get them breathing.

In a multiple burial, if you can turn off their beacon as well, that can only help you. Depending on the size of your group, the number of initial rescuers is up to you, but I would say two at the most, bring the rest down after you have located the victim. In a massive avalanche multiple initial searchers might be required. Having someone stay on top to act as a scene commander and a safety for you is a good idea if you can.  Also as you are working on the excavation, make sure your equipment is accounted for and recognizable as yours, not to be confused with victim’s equipment for searchers coming on scene.  Do not pee in the area, as if dogs are needed this will throw em off.

Multiple burials are a tough situation. That is why protocol is so important to keep only one person at risk at a time. Locating a person with multiple signals going off, especially in close proximity, takes practice and knowledge of that little sp button on your Tracker 2. Won’t go into it too much here, but research it and practice it these scenarios on your own.  I found my Tracker 2 to be fast easy to use. I had been using a DTS for a long time and the improvement in range and speed was noticeable.  I always like the simplicity of the Tracker, as it makes it easy for even novices to use.  To many bells and whistles can get confusing, even for experienced rescuers.

I was stoked on the session, even more stoked to see a young warrior come out and practice with us old EV curmudgeons.  As we move into the EV season, with the jones as high as the avi danger is going to be, please remember the old saying “the avalanche doesn’t care if you’re an expert.” Be safe everyone, enjoy the pow, see you out there.

1/9/12 Head pentrometer test in Tweeners

Went out back today with a couple of friends to the mysterious land of East Vail for a reunion.  The recent vail eight(see four real) inch storm was a welcome change and a psychological victory for the valley.  Far from curing all  woes for lack of snow, the day long storm at least made the landscape look like actual winter.  Snow in the trees, covering the ground and the majority of the bare spots on the mountain were the biggest benefit from the snowstorm. At least now we know it can snow and whatever horrible pattern of beautiful weather we have endured changed for a little while.
Luckily, we have avoided the fate of resorts like Squaw, which closed outright this past week.  Hopefully more snow in store for us on Wendsday but nothing sustained which is what we really need in this mid-season game of snowpack catch up.

Upper scarp area of Tweeners was rock hard with about five inches of new, medium density snow on it.  There were a couple other tracks and we noticed no signficant sluffing from their turns. The gullies in Benchie had evidence of natural new snow sluffs sometime during or after the storm that ran to the first bench after the first cliffs.  Nothing significant, not really that much new snow to make it so.  Most of Benchmark looks like a mini-evergreen forest and is unskiable in the areas that ran.

The choke in Tweeners is a three-foot wide frozen bush slide on to a frozen scraped out track. My attempt to hop the bush and ditch speed to skier’s right was met with acceleration out to the skier’s right side of the exit, towards the fresh snow next to the trees. I made the move to test the density change in the snow with my head three different times.
As I tumbled through snow and bushes, I had time to reflect on an early season that has been filled with too much time on groomers and my bike and not nearly enough time in the backcountry on skis, as evidenced by my triple lindy. I stopped rotating and took the mental inventory that is required after a good, meaty fall. Everything intact and working. Skied toward the sound of laughter which led me to my ski partners. Jeremy let me know he has it all on Go Pro. You Tube gold. I don’t fall often any more, a testament to my I’m-old, if I’m upside down it’s a problem, not fun, style of skiing. When it does happen, it is a sight to see.
The middle of Benchie drainage skier’s right after Tweeners in the fields skied well, actual shin/knee deep powder turns in mostly consolidated fresh snow. There were spots where the skis sank and dove, but had I had some enjoyable turns through the middle.
Had to walk out around the corner of the west face that leads to the lower traverse out, but no more than five minutes of hoofing it.
We we able to pick our way down the lower aspen glades with coverage minimal and the snow punchy. We stayed on skis all the way out to the water tank, which was a bonus. Definite survival skiing down low but worth it to actually get to try out the AK JJ’s on something other than groomers.
Snowpack didn’t change at all with the new snow. Loose facets and rounds still make up the majority of the pack. New snow aheared well to the hard pack underneath, surprisingly. Cut the skier’s top right middle on my entrance to Tweeners to see if there was any energy, but nothing popped.
Vail resort deals well with the low snow does a masterful job of moving snow around to make the skiing good as it can be. East Vail really highlights just how low we really are. The middle of Benchie is two feet short of being viable and the run out is arduous. Be careful out there.

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