Get it while it’s decent, or you’re gonna get it while it’s bad. It’s hard to get the South facing lines in LCC while they’re positively good; solar heating (even in the cold months of January and February) turns the champagne pow into something else quickly here in Utah.
Xavier de Le True getting it while it’s good.
With a recent fresh topper out of the sky, Mark Hammond, Jason True, True’s pal Clay, and I headed up the untracked Little Pine Couloir on a dawn patrol. More or less.
I threw us slightly off Continue reading ‘Little Pine Couloir’
In my view, it’s one of the great tragedies of the outdoor sports world that ski areas end up closing off some of the most choice terrain. Sometimes this real estate is closed permanently – such as Jackson Hole’s Hourglass Couloir (since renamed Haas Couloir after Steve Haas perished in the line), and sometimes it’s simply closed a lot of the time, and open infrequently as ski patrol deems the conditions warrant. Alta’s Baldy Chutes or Snowbird’s Pipeline qualify as examples of the latter.
Here’s a fine example of the problem at hand – the highest terrain above looks appealing to me, while the apron (everything below the traverse line) gets skied out endlessly.
The tragedy exists in that Continue reading ‘Open Terrain (Answer 1 of 12)’
When Jon Swain called yesterday to inquire what I was up to for today, my answer was short and sweet. “I’m aiming to beat myself up a little bit on the skis. Interested in joining in?” Like some people, Jon is a sucker for such a sweet answer when it involves ski turns. Of course he was in..
Jon’s introduction to Baldy’s Main Chute.
The plan as conceived was to head to Baldy and throw down Continue reading ’10 Laps of Bliss in Baldy’s Main Chute’
Spring has sprung, but not really. This is a repeating theme this season. Today, it led to the following stage play, conducted in One Act, which we can refer to as the Suicide / Homicide Combo Pack:
Jason Dorais, midway up the very windy Suicide Chute: ‘Gosh darn it, I forgot my avalanche beacon!’
Adam OKeefe: ‘Is it in the car?’
JD: ‘I’m not sure.’
A OK: ‘Well, why don’t you ski down, and see if it’s there. If it isn’t, dance around for a while in one spot; I’ll see you, and come down.’ (JD becomes invisible long before reaching the car. Fortunately, beacon is in car. JD begins re-ascent from Highway 210.)
Jason found a way to squeeze in an extra lap.
Meanwhile, on middle stage, midway up Suicide Chute, the scene continues..
A OK, silently, to self: ‘Ahh, good. Beacon was in car. Here comes JD. I’ll get going up the Chute.’ After standing in place for 20 minutes, A OK takes one step, and the snow around him Continue reading ‘A Black Comedy in One Act* (with Ski Pictures)’
I’ve learned a lot in my life from observing the mistakes of others, and trying not to repeat them. This has, in my view, saved me a lot of grief. Today, others can learn from my mistakes. I made many, in sequence, which caused me to get hit by a fast moving wet slide in steep terrain. It was a very close call, as well as a wake-up call. Follow along and take mental notes – they could help you out in a big way. Further note that very few of my actions today were informed by ignorance. Rather, personal stupidity was the culprit. I’m not including pictures in this article because I want people to read it and learn, rather than simply look at the pictures.
Complacency – Following a 3 foot dump of snow in prior days, today was the first day that brought cloudless skies from sunrise, with resultant, immediate heat. While the snow had settled nicely following the storm’s conclusion on Tuesday, Wednesday was cloudy until late in the day, keeping wet slides to a relative minimum. That meant that little true snow flushing had yet occurred. Additionally, I was aware that it was going to be a hot day, and that south facing slopes would be particularly unsafe.
Overconfidence – Despite knowing that south facing slopes would be highly suspect, I figured that I could pull off my ski descent before the avalanches fired up, if I began early enough. That was probably true enough, but I showed up half an hour after the starting time I’d chosen. Further, with deep, relatively slow trail breaking, I was slower than I’d planned as well. I’d already chosen a ‘turn around time’ at which point I wanted to be heading down, in order to avoid any avalanche issues.
Ignoring Personal Guidelines – I ignored my ‘turn around’ timeframe. It’s that simple. Mentally, I told myself that the safe window could be extended by 30-45 minutes. I knew better, but convinced myself otherwise. Why?
Continue reading ‘Learning From Mistakes’
Before my Garmont Masterlite boots failed for the second time, I did manage to get out for one day of turns with Jason Borro and Andy Coyle. The storm was consistent and dropped snow on us for the duration of our outing. We selected west facing slopes to ski as the winds were generally loading north and east facing aspects – this kept our exposure to danger from snow slides manageable. Before we got to any terrain that was likely to see (minor) avalanche activity in the new snow layer, Andy had bowed out and headed to Alta. Jason and I pressed on.
Onwards into the snow, A OK pushes along a windswept ridge. It was a Minus33 balaclava kind of a day. All day long.
We danced down Continue reading ‘Storm Turns’