Sunday, April 10, 2011
Since i first saw this zone over 5 years ago it's bugged me about how to access it and when the snow would be good. finally with my splitboard i cracked the code and spent 2 days up there this week. First day was with my buddy kyle, then next with my girl kimmie.
Kyle and i made it up fairly quickly to the bottom as the snow had a crust on it and made for some quick traveling. After spending some time scoping the zone, we settled on our first obvious line. Off the peak and straight down. It was the simplest line and a good chance to really get a feel for the zone. Now we just had to get up there. a few hours of breaking trail later, we were standing on the peak and enjoying the view. As we sat eating our lunch i called out "fly by" as a bald eagle glided by just about 100 feet horizontally off the ridge line from us. 20 minutes later, a juvenile baldy fly by on the same line. Later in the day, we saw a third eagle fly by!
Feeling good after seeing the eagles we dropped into a first run. The snow was blower (especially for april). Kyle dropped first and we leapfrogged each other a few times from safe spot to safe spot, Kyle filming and me shooting photos (trying anyways). Our first run went great, and we were feeling good about the snow.
as we were switching over to split mode to climb back up, we heard a rumble. we both quickly looked up to see an avalanche blasting off a big cliff and coming down the slope towards us! even having picked a safe spot way out in the flats, it gave us no comfort seeing a huge dust cloud coming at us. we ran like hell until we realized the slide wasn't going to get us. Upon inspection afterward, we guess that a huge tree bomb (snow piled up in the trees) dropped onto a shelf and started a slide in the recent storm snow and the huge dust cloud was a result of the slide airing over the big cliff. We still felt confident in our assesment of the snowpack in the chutes and headed up for another run.
Our next pick was a tight chute that we were able to see from the bottom. finding it from the top would be another story. The ridgeline drops off very quickly into all the lines so it's difficult to see which entrance goes or which entrance goes off a cliff. So as we poked around the ridge, found a little drop for us to hit along the way, and eventually found our entrance.
We noticed from the bottom of the chute that the exit may hold some chunder (icy chunks, avalanche debris, etc) and decided that full speed was not the way to go. And we couldn't see the whole chute from above, so safety prevailed as i dropped in first, made a turn and pulled aside to let the sluff go by before riding the rest of the line (being only 2 guys way back there, you need to make sure you make it home).
As i exited the chute just ahead of my sluff, i wondered in the chunder was hard or soft so i decided to check it out. turns out it was pure ice and i lost my edge with my sluff barreling down after me as everything slid down the little gully that was there. I managed to pull it together, get out of harms way (there's a mandatory left turn in front of a cliff near the bottom) and enjoy a some more nice turns down the lip of the gully. Not finding any safe spots on the way down i radioed kyle from the bottom and passed along the snow conditions. main chute was great, main exit was not so great.
We wondered about getting a third line for the day but may have been pushing our luck with the amount of sunlight left, so we called it a good day and left.
The next day, kimmie wasn't working and we debated about riding whistler or heading out for another mission. Kimmie hadn't ridden in a few weeks and wanted some pow turns. With our skin tracks already into the gallery, i figured going back to it was the easiest zone to get into. The weather was closing in as we made our way up there and enjoyed lunch in a whiteout on the peak. We'd decided on one of the main chutes to see what was in that part of the zone. I just needed to find the entrance in a whiteout, in a zone i barely knew. But i was able to find it easy enough. The snow had warmed up a little from the day before, but the turns were still quite good as kimmie and i leapfrogged our way down the chute.
With it starting snow we left the zone with full intentions to head back up there whenever it's good. So stoked i finally made it up there and it was everything and more i thought it would be.
the chute-ing gallery
me climbing up to the summit
kyle getting some turns. snow was pretty good...
kyle again. i have more photos but kyle is just buried in all his turns in them
kyle poking around. the advantage of going second and having somebody down low with a radio to talk you into lines
left over dust cloud from the tree bomb avalanche
kyle riding our second line. he's the little dot way up there
second days line
kimmie with her lunch enjoying the view