7-11

After the previous week of boarding with friends in Utah, I couldn’t let the momentum die. But I was surprised by week’s end how much it would catch up with me in this gap between the beginning of meteorological Spring and astronomical Spring.

Returning home Sunday evening, Goddess and I made Tuesday plans to board together at Silver Mountain in Idaho. We had never been. As we were getting things together Monday evening, I looked at conditions in the region. Conditions in Idaho looked pretty good with spring conditions, but the full-fledged winter conditions in British Columbia looked even better.

We had never been boarding up there, so we punted. What a great decision!

Especially as the drive there was but 45 minutes longer than our planned drive into Idaho.

Goddess on an empty run. Red Mountain, Rossland, British Columbia.

The image at the top of the post is also from Red Mountain. After a week of looking forward to the powder dump in Utah that did not arrive until the morning we headed to the airport, these conditions were exactly what I was looking for.

And since we had never been, we decided to stay the night in Rossland and have a look around. It’s a fun little town, very walkable and full of very welcoming locals. A couple of days later, we found out that one of those locals had an amazing encounter with one of the real locals of Red Mountain.

Returning home, I started making plans to get to Silver Mountain on Thursday. Unfortunately, Goddess wouldn’t be joining, but that would give me the opportunity to explore and report back.

But that morning, I punted. Again.

Once I got to Silver Mountain, the temperature was well above freezing and it was raining fairly steadily. So I kept driving.

That’s one of the best things about living here. The mountains are close enough together that if one’s not quite right, keep driving a bit. Another might be better.

Once again, I chose well, as Lookout Pass was snowing lightly on top of the snow that they had received over the previous two days that they were closed. The runs would be soft and untracked.

The conditions did not disappoint. But I was surprised at how fast those conditions changed as the snow stopped and the sun peeked through the clouds. It warmed up and the snow, even in the protected areas, started getting a bit wonky.

Snow started falling from the trees and created pinwheels down the steeper slopes (although nowhere near as big as in the linked pic). Inbounds, that’s not much of a worry, but a sure sign to stay out of the backcountry. Snow doesn’t like a rapid change in temperature, which weakens it. In the backcountry, they’re a natural avalanche warning.

The small cohesive balls of snow started rolling as soon as I sat down on the edge of the groomed run. I was trying to decide which line I wanted to take through the trees, thinking that the powder in the shade would be great. Those cohesive balls told me that it wouldn’t be as light and fluffy as I hoped. I enjoyed watching them, understanding what they were telling me, but I wasn’t too concerned, being inbounds (although that is never a guarantee).

But did that stop me?

Seriously? Is that a question?

The snow was good, but after a few turns through the trees, as I slowed to pick my next line, I looked around at all of the tree wells around me. With the snow becoming cohesive, they are less of a danger, but still a danger, especially as I was by myself. Goddess’ voice sprung into my head with her usual admonition when I head off into the trees by myself on a deep powder day —

“Don’t die!”

The conditions weren’t good enough to play there, so I worked my way over to an ungroomed run, creating pinwheels with each turn and dodging them as they chased me all the way down the run.

Good fun!

But by lunchtime, I was cooked. Sitting there thinking about where I wanted to explore next, I realized that I was in the middle of the seventh day of boarding out of eleven. It was catching up with me, so I got a few more runs in, then headed home early.

A couple of days later, as I write this, I am almost recovered and thinking about what a fantastic couple of weeks I was able to enjoy with brothers and Goddess. It is these weeks that make me extremely thankful for what I have and where we are.

Hopefully you are in a similar place, now matter how you are doing it.

 

 

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Catching Up

It has been a great couple of weeks on the slopes, not just here in Washington, but Idaho, Montana, and Utah. We’ve been getting our fill of groomers, powder, bottomless powder, and crust.

But we’re always anxious for more, as spring is rapidly approaching. That brings the end of snowboarding in the resorts.

Soft Groomers Leading to Bottomless Powder Stashes
Naturally Flocked Trees
Moonrise over Canyons, Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah

Honestly, not a lot of pictures to cover the past couple of weeks. That’s because conditions have been so ridiculously good that I didn’t want to slow down long enough to take a picture, or that conditions were good enough that I was going too fast to take pictures.

But the best part was spending the last week in Park City, Utah, boarding hard with brothers, breathlessly anticipating the forecast powder dump that didn’t happen until the morning we headed to the airport.

“I’m in the Trees!”

After an almost month-long hiatus, winter has returned to the Inland Pacific Northwest. The spring-like weather just needs to wait its turn.

After a fun evening at a fundraiser for one of the local avalanche forecast crews, Goddess and I got the car packed and headed east. We knew a storm was coming and instead of fighting Spokane’s morning rush hour complicated by several inches of snow, we skipped town the afternoon before and landed in the Center of the Universe – Wallace, Idaho.

If you don’t believe me, just ask them. They have even marked it.

After the proclamation in 2004, their stance is “Why not?” And “Prove that it isn’t!”

Gotta love the chutzpah.

Our decision to skip town early was rewarded when we woke up. The Center of the Universe marker was buried.

The car had about 5″ of light fluffy snow piled on it and it was still coming down heavily. Also, the morning news confirmed our suspicion about the morning commute; you would have thought that it was the first time that it had ever snowed in Spokane. But then again, it seems like that every time it snows, much like every time that it rains in Florida or Southern California. Which is why we avoid those commutes.

Instead, we had a 15 minute drive to the mountain, where it kept snowing all day, adding layer upon layer of ridiculously light cold smoke on the runs.

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but it was a glorious day of floating and face shots. That and hoots and hollers by everyone. Goddess even commented that all of the 60-70 year olds were giddy like teenagers. It was that good.

One of those “teenagers,” a retired heli-ski guide, schooled me as he showed me the way through the trees and steeps to get to a wonderful out-of-bounds area that was completely untracked. After that, he then guided me through a few hidden tree runs right at the front of the mountain, untouched even though they were within sight of the lodge and right alongside the front lift.

Not that tracks were a problem, with the snow continuing and the spread crowd. We were still finding untracked lines at the end of the day on the slopes right in front of the lodge.

But the title has nothing to do with the lines that the almost 70 year-old guided me through. If it did, the tile would be something like “Retired School Boy Grins All Day Long.”

Instead, it was early afternoon and Goddess and I were floating on Cloud 9.

Seriously, that’s the name of the run.

I take off through the trees, hooting and hollering, having a great time. After a few dozen turns, ducks, and jibes, I pop out onto the run to check on Goddess (and to let her know that I’m OK). She is nowhere to be seen, which is confusing, as I can see to the top of the run. That’s when I hear her shout “I’m in the trees!”

I don’t know who was grinning more when she popped out.

She’ll tell you that she didn’t like it that much, but the look on her face told a different story.

By the end of the day, the mountain reported that they had received 9″+ that day of fluff. Here it is 4 days later and they reported this afternoon that since then they have received 48″+ of cold smoke that will stay nice and fluffy this week as the Arctic airmass settles in.

Winter is really here and we’re going to make the most of it.

Hopefully you are too.