Thursday, February 28, 2013

In the Midst of the Thaw, Powder is a Gift.

There is no doubt that the early season this year was awesome.  We got started in October with a small dump.  Veteran's Day was pretty awesome.  December was non stop fun.  And then as we rolled into 2013, the snow came to a halt.  No surprise there.  I mean, the January Thaw is as much a part of the Tahoe season as is 3 foot dumps and 500" winters.  But then came February.  And the thaw continued. It seemed almost endless, and some, have written off winter.  A small storm rolled through the region on the 19th and 20th, and almost immediately the hordes started to complain.  The two feet promised at one point ended up looking more like 5-10 inches.  No enough to make the drive stated some.  Conditions are crap stated others.  Well, I happened to have the week free, so I was on the lifts Tuesday morning, and hiking by afternoon.  It did not suck.  And as the week wore on, it got even better.

No camera for Tuesday, but on Wednesday afternoon, the sky was blue.  Looking back toward Glove Rock.  

Off in the other direction, what looked like a forest fire raged in Desolation Wilderness.

After a run down the Back 40 with James, it was over to Red Cliffs with Court for a view of Round Top.

Nacho stands guard over our line as we rip skins.

Need a Kirkwood postcard?

A boy and his dog sharing the snow.

To start out Thursday, Jason finds some snow that is a bit deeper than 10 inches.

Court finds a few turns to start his day.

Casey decides it is game on.

Wednesday was a bluebird morning with fresh snow, so I hit up Kirkwood with a few friends and no camera.  Ooops.  It was very good in select spots.  By afternoon it was off to hike some zones in the valley.  That night I got a text from Court stating the trees in a certain zone had lots of snow on them.  So, we met Jason and Casey at the trail head at 8AM.  Okay, so it was more like 9AM, but, seriously that was not my fault.  Or maybe it was.  Once we started hiking, though, no one seemed to care.  We found snow.  Soft, bottomless snow.  It skied deep.  And it was even nice to jump into.  Skied all day and started to wonder about all the complaints I had heard the day before about how there was no snow.  Just goes to show you, if you are willing to put in a little work, then it is often worth it.

And it keeps going and going.

Of course, there are always a few mishaps.  Or front flips.

Going for it, in a spicy zone.

Down low there are some fun rollers to pop off of.

The snow was really that good.

Hiked back up to the ridge, and ate elk sausage with a view of Round Top and her Sisters.

Lap after lap, after lap.  It was a very full day.  It was hard to not keep going with the snow as good and deep as it was.  And besides, I don't often get so many days to ski all day.  So, we did just that.  Up, and down and up again.  And again, and again, and again.  All I know for sure is that every run was spectacular.  It was just about as good as it gets.

This zone has become my nemesis.  I'm 3 for 3.  Three hits, three back slaps.  

Court seemed to have better luck on his hit.

And stomp.

Back down in the trees, he finds another fun hit.

Deep, deep landings.

Again, Jason leaves a vapor trail behind.

Good times.  Blower and smiles.

As the day wore on, some headed home.  Court and I headed back for another few laps.  One in the dark, another in the light.  And finally, we were skiing back to the car in the last rays of light.  A nice, long, very good day.

Some one went to school in Florida.

Even the low angle run outs skied well.

Back on the sunny side.

And the final run to the car as the sun disappears behind the ridge.

While Thursday was a full work out, plans were laid to tour from Carson Pass to Kirkwood on Friday, with a shot detour up the Moon Crescent.  Personally, I am not a big fan of the coolie, having had several aborted missions and a preference for big, fast, wide open turns.  Still, I agreed to join in the fun, and met up with Jeff and Court for another reasonable start time.  As we skinned up the apron below the Moon, the snow was fantastic, and I began to get excited.  As we entered the cooler, though, perfect powder turned into firm, mean, psuedo-snow.  After climbing up 50 feet or so, we decided to turn back and enjoy some turns on the apron before heading toward our next line, Life on the Edge.

Courts works his way down the ice heads.

Um, yes, those are some nice turns.

And then Kyle from Washington shows up on the skin track to join in the fun.

So much gnar, do little time.

Jeff works his way out onto the Edge.

And drops into one of the longer lines in the region.

While the snow was not as consistently awesome as the previous days locale, things skied pretty darn well.  Life on the Edge is perhaps one of the longer lines in the region, which makes it a ton of fun in good conditions.  This would be my second time this season scoring powder, as opposed to corn snow. This time, we continued all the way down to 4th of July Lake for a variation on a theme.  It was well worth it, allowing us to skip skinning over a false peak on our exit.  And we skied more vertical as well.

Jeff finds some turns down through the gut.

Next up Court gets his turn.

And finds himself some good snow.

Jeff finishes up his line.

Kyle also finds some snow.

Unfortunately,  my memory card filled up around this point.  And I was pretty exhausted, so no more pictures.  No pictures of 4th of July Lake, or the WWII era Air Force plane that buzzed our heads along the ridge line, or the turns down through Stovepipe and back into Kirkwood.  But one of the best parts of the day was still to come, as we skied down to Chair 3 at just after 4PM, and we got the very last chairs back to the front side and our car.  Another great day and another great week in the mountains.  And, of course, the conditions just suck up there.