Thursday, February 07, 2008

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.

There's something tremendously satisfying about skiing in the midst of a storm.
I think I can see a smile in there somewhere (click it and you'll see one)
Nah, this place isn't on your radar. Better stay in Little Cottonwood Canyon.A subie, a pair of powder sticks and fresh snow. What else do you need?

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7 comments

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skiing there tommorow....did you set a good skin track?

2/07/2008 12:10 PM

 
Blogger powstash said...

hiding behind the curtain of anonymity? how convenient. the skin track is surely buried by now but with a couple of people it'll go quick enough....

....so, I'll see you at 6am?

2/07/2008 12:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

closer to 6:30am.

2/07/2008 12:39 PM

 
Blogger powstash said...

sleeping in eh? well, I'll catch you on the second lap.

2/07/2008 1:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How was it? Had to address work related issues this morning so no play.

2/08/2008 7:31 AM

 
Blogger powstash said...

you and me both brother. getting up at 5am 3 days in row to ski pow is taking its toll.

2/08/2008 9:02 AM

 
Blogger Mike said...

It's posts like this that really make me sad to not live at the Junction anymore! Make a few turns for me tomorrow, will ya?

2/08/2008 11:21 PM

 

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