12-27-2010 Point 8454′

December 27, 2010 at 20:27 | Posted in Skiing at Downing Mountain Lodge | 2 Comments

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I had the pleasure to get out today on what proved to be the best snow day since some monday at Gash weeks ago now. With the three inches in the yard their was definite inspiration in my bones at 630 am. Headed up Little Downing after some chores at the lodge and found six inches and snowing. Colin broke trail all day without a pack in what proved to be a great new style for him and for us following as well. Fortunately Colin has some experience in going light, so he did not need to eat or drink all day. Ben and I were the beneficiaries and handed him his coat or some tea or skins when he needed them. We found the snowpack a bit touchy with the new snow but unwilling to propagate a slide. After some digging around and slope cutting at the top of the Wave we dropped into premium snow on this nice 35 plus degree slope. It held together and we regrouped at the tarn below. In all we had a fast 6000 vertical day skiing the Wave and Nina’s then onto the  Crown to Fourth Bowl, and return through the shore break to Mario’s trees and the long run back to the lodge. The crown was in the midst of a cornice developing phase, so finding the cross drifted keystone on the forty degree headwall, Colin ski cut it and stomped on it until it reluctantly fractured and propagated a sluff which quickly arrested on the thirty two degree slope below.  We skied the slope then, watching the snow under our feet fail repeatedly but without any movement down the hill. The forecast was for moderate avalanche hazard. On slopes steeper than 35 we found a considerable hazard with regular small fractures and failures, but without any propagation. With continued snow the new slab is likely to become more  sensitive. All is in great shape for our first guests tomorrow, they will have an awesome powder cycle. With New Year’s around the corner still and the skiing this great! The Christmas drought ended and it is forecast to be wet this winter. Regular snowfall benefits so much across the state and West,  I will continue to relish the pile up and the solstice darkness. We were out to the lodge by 430 with plenty of light, we could have skied another lap on the crown. The main face is still a bit rocky and needs to fill in some more. Our shoulder run had plenty of snow though and was a great 1800 foot shot towards Barley Lake. It is wise to let the rocky runs fill in better.

12-22-2010 Lost Horse

December 22, 2010 at 22:14 | Posted in Backcountry skiing the Bitterroots | 1 Comment

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