Spring has come, and so has some love from Ullr in conjunction with Christina’s spring break. We traded in our shades, sunscreened noses, and spread eagles out of corn bumps for bonus powder days.
Contrary to the standard grey snow days of New England, the blue bird flew over in the morning shining some light on the fresh fluffy dendrites at sugarbush.
In the spirit of a “typical” spring break, we floated along some undulations.
At the summit Nick puts in the first track,
and Christina makes the second mark of the day.
The skiing was really too much fun over the past two weekends, so the camera stayed in the car most of the time.
Saturday at stowe, conditions were the best I’ve had all year. It really is a shame I’ve not spend more time on the flanks of Mt. Mansfield and in Smuggler’s Notch.
Landings were soft, as long as trees weren’t involved…
Christina showed me how to be graceful on her line.
Always a good idea to replenish the calorie bank after a solid ski day.
“I’ve got another confession to make, I’m your fool” Dave Grohl screams into my ear. Your fool looks at his phone; it reads 3:00 AM, a minute ago it was 1:59 AM. I stumble around crusty eyed pulling on baselayers and gathering my personal affects. Thirty minutes disappear by the time I hit the road. It’s quiet, but not empty, most of these people are likely on their way home ending there night still many hours from cursing that annual evaporation of time. By 5Am I had passed through Andover, and Mike was now in the co-pilot seat. I gather we drifted between mission planning & blank road gazes until we made a coffee stop on rte 16. Driving through conway we were treated to a brilliant red sunrise and view of our objective basking in the alpen glow.
We hit the skin track by 8 and made it to Hojo’s just as they were putting up the Avy Report. At the same time we got our first visual report of the various options.
The duchess has been on my list, but the cruxes looked a little too brushy & ice bulgey for my tastes.
Skinning through the little headwall we reached a surprisingly very empty Tuckerman Ravine. With a hard freeze overnight we were confident in stablility of Right Gulley, one of the easier ascent routes. With only a light wind on the ridge we decided to venture over to the east snow fields and let the top of the steeper ravine routes soften up as they were still borderline bulletproof.
We traversed an ocean of sastrugi; waves frozen in time.
I kept my skins on my skis for the climb up and easily started skinning up, getting some good kick turn practice in. Mike regretting sticking to booting and thus we found a nice switch over spot about halfway up the summit cone.
Knuckle dragger dragging knuckles.
Navigating the sharks.
Back at the Ravine. Visualizing the steep turns ahead; mental preparation is paramount.
Nothing left to do but shred!
So you’re saying the sun won’t set till 7pm? I think I’ll have another. We headed up the lip where we saw a lone skier making some fantastic turns early in the morning. I didn’t feel comfortable going up through the crux without an axe so I changed over early and enjoyed some STEEP soft turns down while Mike kept going to the top. There is certainly some serious exposure to navigate.
Did I say steep?
Racing out on the gentler slopes
as the shadows take over an hour late.
The weekend warrior continues the fight. Driving miles and disappearing dollars. For this episode it was off to NVT with the day 30 crew minus the freakin’ porter rican. It’s no canada but almost canada vermont can still serve up some good times, even if the upslope machine was only stuttering.
We rolled down the windows
and Chris framed up a nice scenic.
we puttered around lamenting how the mountain has gone corporate, while simultaneously wishing we could hit the water park. Chalk it up to another #firstworldproblem.
I think the big picture take away from all over this is that I need to spend some time in Robbie’s Wildlife Refuge…
Not quite ready for prime time, we warmed up on the more open slopes while the fog cleared out.
It’s time, let’s go pea shootin’
Apparently a small mandatory air and maximum hiking from either direction keep the entry untouched. Unfortunately no said “GO HUGE.” How’s your face?
Into the belly of the beast!
We slashed someone’s secret powder stash.
Scoping out the next section (aka what will chris convince max to do next)
Your results may vary, this time the plan panned out.
We wubanged the peas out of that chute.
With plenty of time left in the day we took some pot shots.
Every good ski day, especially those bell to bell ski till you can’t walk days, must end with a flying tiger peaBR slam.
Saturday I met up a with Bernard, a classmate from my AIARE 1 class last year, for a tour in Tuckerman Ravine. We met up at pinkham notch at 8AM, formulated a plan and hit the trail. We set out at a leisurely pace as we both had new gear we were testing and the surface conditions were rather variable. It was a day for a mountain adventure where we could get some discussion going brushing up on material from last year’s class not maximizing vert.
On the way up we ran into some snowboarders who were headed back to the winter lion’s head route to get access to the summit snowfields based on the beta that the gullies had really hardened up overnight. While it’s a fun mountaineering climb, I don’t see the allure of their plan…
After about the tenth time I said “hojo’s is just around the corner” it finally came into view.
We chatted with a member of the MWAC who was not going to get his hopes up for the mountain to make a comeback this season.
The debris from the mudflow during a winter rain event is still evident in the run out of hillman’s highway.
What we gathered from the ranger was that there was a little bit of everything in terms of harder surfaces that come with a midwinter low avalanche danger day. We decided to go up and poke around and see what was what.
Mountaineers headed towards the summit via right gulley. Cross that off the list.
Lobsterclaw, the ranger said it went, but it looks like a zigging and zagging boot pack around the brush to find the entrance.
Let’s head left! We zigged to the entrance, and started to boot pack. The surface was more than manageable, in fact if I recall correctly I was easily getting more purchase than in the snow shmorgisborg.
The mountain sure feels more ominous in midwinter than those bluebird spring time corn harvests.
We pulled off below the crux of the route and decided we were content switching over from our current location. We were still a ways from topping out to ridge and switch over spots between looked nil. Besides we had to save ourselves for additional hiking the next day.
So I stomped in and peered down at our reward
while Bernard fiddled around. I’m totally not sold on tech bindings.
scratched schussed the chute first.
It was great to making turns in steep alpine terrain, but boy it sure was on your toes skiing.
We were able to open it up as we neared the floor of the bowl and the fog lifted.
Aha, there is the lobster claw, and a very tiny skier.
We exited via the little headwall. It did go per the beta we received but getting there required a shwack and ski removal to get through the brush. Hopefully this latest storm has eliminated all that business.
We enjoyed the simplicity of a good sherburne run back to the lot.
No clown fish or submersible captains here. Early last week the Euro model started showing a massive Nor’Easter slamming New England on the weekend. As the week went by additional models began showing similar outcomes (I think at one point a model run was showing in the neighborhood of 60″ for Portland, ME) and my productivity at work decreased. The weathermen & various media outlets started up the hype machine, and we were all systems go for a big one. Friday the office emptied before Noon, and I hit the road hoping to beat the storm out of the flatlands. I arrived at my NH destination before the MA travel ban went into effect. The snow started slow, but by the time I opened up the door a little after 4AM there were easily drifts over 2′. It took time shoveling out an escape route, and some sketchy roads did not get us to the mountain with enough time for a dawn patrol.
There was some pow early on of the 14″ dust on frozen dirt and rock variety. (The storm tracked a bit further out to see leaving Southern Vermont west of the sweet spot.) If you liked your skis there were few turns on the au natural trails without a cringe worthy scraping.
The solution to this: don’t turn… Even if we felt like we were missing out on the best conditions from the storm it was tremendous fun skiing with a big group for the first time in a long while.
Unfortunately we lost one early in the day to a concussion on a fall similar to this. Hopefully the next powder day will have a base, our skis would surely appreciate it.
It was agreed that after a full day of shoveling, white knuckling, powder bouncing, cliff hucking, base gouging, edge scratching, and chunder charging we would skip leftovers and have a lazy Sunday. But we did attempt the ever elusive backyard schuss.
Returning to the coast I couldn’t tell if I had time traveled to the blizzard or ’78 or if I was still in 2013.
Things sure looked different from when I left.