Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Ski day 40: More (not) boring powder

Vert: 9,085 m;   YTD cum vert: 337,100 m
Runs: 16;   YTD cum runs: 633

I decided to invert my day today and start at Divide instead of Goat's Eye based on (a) a forecast that said that the morning was supposed to be clear and sunny, clouding over in the afternoon, and (b) the fact that the viz looked fine to the top as I passed the Goat's Eye station on the gondola. However, this was one of those days in the mountains where if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes. By the time I got to Divide, it was a blizzard.
Then literally, the next ride up looked like this from basically the same spot:
There was at least 8-15 cm fresh around, and it was very nice. There was a fairly strong wind blowing from the west (directly up the Divide chair), so there was really nice untracked wind sift, too, such as here in the Bye Bye Bowl.
Trouble with the wind was that it was hard to get back to Divide base. I only used the skier's left exit from the Bowl (Cat Corner to Peyto Pass) once because Green Run there was straight into a 40 km/hr wind, and no one could make it to Peyto Pass without a lot of walking. Heck, coming down Red 90, it was hard to make it past the terrain park.

Places where the wind was depositing this were very nice indeed. The best I found was knee deep stuff in the lee of trees on the OS Pitch.
I headed to Goat's Eye in the afternoon. Continuing my exploration of places on the hill I rarely get to, I figured that The Shoulder would have some excellent blow in, and even the hill recommends it as a route from the upper mountain to Goat's Eye. Having literally never been there before, I gave it a shot using the upper entrance. Here's what I learned: Don't use the upper entrance. Not only is the entrance mostly invisible in the trees, and not only are the narrow slots between the trees getting to the entrance highly tracked and tough as all get out to navigate, but the actual upper entrance is full of unavoidable rocks. The first 3 turns are nearly all rock, and the next 4 are blown clear icy hardpack. These 7 turns basically get you to the lower entrance. The 7 turns really ain't worth it. Once you have cleared the nasty bits, this is what you see.
Looking down from the Shoulder to TeePee Town
I had high expectations for the Shoulder. Aside from being wildly steep...
Note the trail sign at the bottom centre

...it's got a lot of bumps on it, and the snow wasn't spectacular, which was a downer. And the exit's a bugger. On the extreme right of the photo above is the exit path towards Goat's Eye. Looking back from there, this is what you see:
The Shoulder from the exit slot
This is a bit like the top of Eagle Creek (and I like cat tracks through the trees), but its only 100 m long. It dumps you on the flats. The flat's aren't really flat; they're actually uphill. And long. And a slog (though they have groomed a skating mound, it was covered in 10 cm of snow, making it not that helpful).
Looking back to the Shoulder across the flats
This leads you to green and more flat Forget Me Not (on the backside of Jackrabbit) and another trail sign in the middle of nowhere.
The junction of the Shoulder exit and Forget Me Not
Glad I did it. Won't be in a hurry to do it again. Surely won't use the upper entrance if I do.

Spent the afternoon on Goat's Eye where I took no photos worth sharing. By 2:00 pm it was pretty socked in, and by 2:30, it was snowing pretty steady. I did Mother In Law to check out the state of the ice crust under the powder; it's still there and while less offensive than yesterday still makes the lower sections less than fun. I suspect the South Side chutes didn't soften at all today. Lots of fresh lines, though.

That's 6 days in a row for me, skiing over 53,000 vertical m (175,000 vertical feet). No wonder I'm tired. So I'm taking tomorrow off in prep for skiing with my friend Norm on Thursday.

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