A day of firsts

Yesterday I took the day off and hit Kirkwood with Nils.  With over a foot of new snow in 24 hours, and double that in the past 2 days, we figured it would make for a good day.  It actually made for a surprisingly epic day, with knee to thigh deep blower powder, face shots, and not a lot of people to share it with.

Powder of this sort makes for soft landings, and Nils encouraged me to try a few steeper aspects that I typically don’t do.  With soft runouts, near-cliffy stuff is surprisingly fun, and I now understand the appeal.

Make no mistake, I’m still a gaper at heart, and I proved that in spades on a traverse out to the Palisades earlier in the day.  Somehow I managed to fly off the traverse at speed, cratering just below the track.  I think I caught one of my phat ski edges on the uphill side of the track, and it happened too fast for me to make any attempt at recovery.  Luckily I provided some amusement for the folks behind me, though Nils was too far back to actually see the fail in action.

Feeling like a class A rookie, I insisted we go back on the next run so I could redeem myself and get through the traverse without wiping out.  I did, and was as proud of that ‘accomplishment’ as any other of the day’s firsts.

Ski, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

Today is the last day of my holiday ski break, and my legs know it.  I’ve not skied 5 days in a row in a long time, and definitely not 5 full days of powder snow and/or backcountry.  Today was the first day that we knew we were not going to have guaranteed fresh tracks, and we had to decide which resort to ski at based upon other factors (distance, crowds and snow conditions).  We ended up hitting Kirkwood because today’s warmer forecast would have less of an impact at a higher elevation ski resort, and the holiday crowds don’t materialize with the same tidal wave force that they do at some other Tahoe resorts.

We did ski Kirkwood on Boxing Day, which was a glorious bluebird day with 2+ feet of light dry powder.   N surprised me on Christmas day with new phat skis – Atomic Helis.  They’re wider than my ski boot in the middle, and are the skis that Alaska heli operators provide clients, so they’re perfect for powder.

Atomic Heli-Max skis

Whither Spring?

The sun has finally come out at the lake, after a pretty wet April. And while I’m loving the vitamin D, the temperatures have shot up from the winter realm straight to summer, with no intermediate spring. The result is that snow has melted rapidly at lake level, but hasn’t done much for the snow at higher elevations.

I went to Kirkwood last Sunday for its closing day, and the snow was soft, verging on mushy, at 9 am. It’s almost heretical for me to admit, but I left after a little over an hour….and took the dog for a hike in Gardnerville. For those who know me and my self-admitted obsession with sliding on snow, this is unfathomable. Yet the conditions weren’t holding me. I’m a corn snow lover in the spring, which requires a hard freeze at night, something we haven’t seen much of the past week.

However, I am going to give it a shot this weekend. Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley are still open right now….as is Mammoth. So there’s still mucho resort skiing to be had, without counting the backcountry.