Storm Skiing Just Like the Old Days
I've heard more than a dozen times from the "old timers" that this season is "just like the old days". You know, back when it snowed in earnest and the low elevations enjoyed the bounty. It's not that the last few years have been all that bad. Some of my best days ever have been within the past couple of seasons. But when the lower elevations don't establish a good snowpack it forces all of us backcountry skiers into the higher elevations (or to the resorts - eek)
I compare skiing in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah to a lake. 100 boats on a full lake may not be a big deal. Drain the lake to 50% capacity and the same 100 boats become a mess of wakes, loss of etiquette and a general declining of enjoyment. So while last season was sub par at lower elevation stashes this winter has been off the charts.
With yet another storm knocking at the door, Josh (from the design dept at Backcountry.com) and I headed out to our favorite lower elevation stash. Most years skiing this stash requires waiting until at least early to mid February before doing our first recon. This year we did that back in December. Yes, it's the kind of place that doesn't get the rave reviews among the "core locals" and without at least 36" of base depth it's better skied with a machete than ski poles. But when it's good, like it was yesterday as the storm arrived in force when we were skinning up, it's SOOOOO good.
Our first lap was down a line that I've skied dozens of times but yesterday it was essentially unrecognizable as trees were buried and bushes obsolete. The normally short shot was extended well beyond it's typical length. We didn't stop for photos, I couldn't. Back in the skin track we found a couple more inches had fallen.
Although some of the images below are blurry there is an image in my mind that I'll not soon forget. Halfway down our second lap on a ridge that I would seldom consider skiing due to coverage concerns I pulled off to watch Josh ski from above and then descend over a roll onto a lower face. As he came past me with the wind whipping and the snow falling at a 2"/hour rate I watched my friend make turns in the knee deep blower powder. As he did so the wind would pick up the trail of powder and whip it over his head forming a tube like wave through which I could see Josh skiing.
I wish I could share this image with you but unfortunately I can't. It's this kind of image that keeps me going back, waking up at an early hour to "get mine" before I give the man his.