It's Lonely at the Top Mood:
chillin' Topic: shred report New Snow: 0" Conditions: Machine Groomed
It's been a dry week here in Jackson, but at least the temperatures have warmed up. Frigid cold kept me off the mountain this past week, so I was anxious to hit the slopes. Despite my lazy morning, I got to the gondola before it opened and was on the first car up.
Cruising down to Thunder, I carved easily through the untracked cordoroy. I took a side trip through the trees and found a little bit of soft, mushy powder. It was almost what you'd call spring conditions, just not quite as wet. Gray skies above threatened to unleash snow, but never quite followed through.
I know there were other people on the mountain, but I didn't see very many of them. There were only 3 other people in my car on the gondola, and I had Thunder all to myself. I continued to cruise the mountain for a while, gathering lots of speed on the wide open slopes. Typically, I refer to Amphitheater trail as "the human slalom", but today it was my own private playground - as was Sundance Gully. I stuck to the groomers for the rest of the day, and rode until my body decided I was too tired to continue. (Sadly my camera didn't make it quite that long before the battery took a nap.) Smooth snowboarding.
Sunrise at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Mood:
bright Topic: shred report
Here's a slideshow taken as the sun was coming up - photos can't quite display the perfect blue of the morning sky on a clear day... but you get the picture.
Happy (insert expletive here) New Year Mood:
don't ask Topic: personal
It's never a good sign when you have to wake up at 3am on New Year's Day and work two jobs before the sun comes up, but crazy end of the year issues meant I needed to swing by the hotel before heading out to do my early AM report. Needless to say, one logistical disaster followed another.
Computer authorization issues meant my night auditor wasn't ready for me to do my thing when I got there, so I had to sort that out first. Then we had to get the rest of her work done before I could finish what I needed to do, so by the time I drove out to the village I was already running late.
I was running late without my work keys. They were locked inside the building because I accidentally left them there yesterday. Unfortunately, I didn't remember this until I was standing in the bitter cold, outside the front door. Typically, at 6am, I'm the only one around for at least an hour or so, but it's even more deserted on a Saturday that also happens to be a holiday (that also happens to be the day after everyone stays up late and celebrates a little too overzealously). So there I was, in zero degree weather, sitting in my car calling every coworker whose number was in my cell phone and leaving voicemail messages. I finally found someone who was around, and she saved me by letting me use the computer in her offfice, in a totally different building that thankfully had access to everything I needed.
Whew! No wonder I needed a nap when I got home. Hopefully the rest of the year will go a little bit smoother than the first 12 hours of 2011.
Powder in the Stashes Mood:
energetic Topic: punk rock New Snow: 5" Condiditions: Powder, Packed Powder
Another week of storms had piled more snow on the mountain, and since Casper chairlift had been closed all week, my destination was obvious - Moran Woods. I took my usual route from the Gondola through Woolsey Woods and into Air Bowl.
Needless to say, the powder was incredible.
At the bottom, I launched off the traverse onto Campground, then cut into the trees and the new Burton Stash Park. I hadn't had a chance to see what they had built, and I was amazed with the sleek design that blended effortlessly with the natural landscape.
After leaving Campground, I cut into the trees for a little bit more powder before cruising on down to Casper lift. I made a beeline for Moran Woods, and the powder was plentiful. I didn't even stop to catch my breath. I traversed back to Casper and noticed the entrance to yet another stash park as I zoomed by.
Back on the lift, I turned around and looked down over the hazy cloud of snowmaking fog.
I decided to check out the stash park, and what better way to get there than through Wide Open - it was a wide open field of powder. Sure, there were a few tracks, but i didn't cross very many of them. When I got to the traverse, I realized I had almost missed the entrance to the stash park, but luckily I was able to traverse over toward it, and cut down through the trees into it. One of the coolest things about the stash parks is that they aren't confined to the trails - in the trees on either side of the trail are little stash signs and more artificially created "natural" features.
Maybe after we've received a few more feet of snow, I'll be willing to hop on one of these. Right now, they're just a little bigger than I feel comfortable attacking. I continued over to A.V. and took a look at the snowmaking operations in the halfpipe. Looks like it might be a little while longer before that's ready. Ah well, there's still plenty of other terrain to play on! I cruised down the fresh corduroy on Hanna before returning to the base area. Fun. Snow.
It's all about the Tram Mood:
chillin' Topic: shred report New Snow: 0" Conditions: Powder, Packed Powder
After an unprecedented early start, I was distracted on my way to the gondola by the nonexistent line at the Tram. I immediately about faced, ascended the platform, and was inside the car in no time.
As I was glancing aroud at the others in the box, I spotted my friend D standing practically next to me. Apparently in my angst to board quickly, my tunnel vision prevented me from noticing that he was there! Anyway, we've been talking about taking runs together since the mountain opened, so when we got to the top, we strapped in and hit Rendezvous Bowl.
Despite the chaos over the weekend, the bowl was smooth and filled in, and since it was Monday we practically had the mountain to ourselves. We followed Rendezvous Trail to Bivouac Woods, one of my favorite runs on the mountain. It was a little more packed than I had expected it to be, but the steep, precise turns were just what I needed to remind my body how to ride.
Since Sublette chairlift was closed until the weekend, we decided to take Lower Sublette Ridge all the way to the bottom. There were still plenty of untouched pockets of snow, and I floated down through mini powder fields in pure joy.
At the bottom, we loaded onto Union Pass lift, which took us back to the base area, where we parted ways. Ahhhh. Powder is sweet.
Opening Day at JHMR Mood:
party time! Topic: shred report
New Snow: 130" Conditions: Powder
FINALLY, the wait was over - my long sluggish summer slithered out of sight, and once again Jackson Hole Mountain Resort started spinning its lifts. This winter has been unbelievable so far, and the mountain was opening with the deepest snow EVER. Since the coverage was so good, 9 lifts openend, as well as almost all of the terrain. Basically, everything opened except the semi-out-of-bounds hikeable areas (Headwall, Casper Bowl, and the Crags), Cirque, Tensleep, and Jackson Face.
I guess I should say, the wait wasn't QUITE over - ski patrol had to clear the mountain before the lifts could commence loading, and of course the lines were growing. The tram line reached all the way back to the parking lot, so I hopped into the singles line at the Gondola, where I met a semi-new local, M. He'd been around the area during the summers, but this was his first winter, and he was excited to explore the mountain. After what seemed like an endless wait, we hear a loud, whooping cheer from the vicinity of the tram line, and we knew the mountain was open. The line dissipated fairly quickly as the lifties efficiently loaded us eight to a car.
At the top, I met M's roommate B, who was working the lift. After a quick hello, I situated myself and strapped in. Since everyone was making a beeline for Thunder, I did what I often do on powder days - headed over to Casper. I offered to show M around the mountain, and we zoomed down the trail and onto Casper Traverse. I'm always nervous on the first day back, but my body remembered what to do and I floated smoothly down the trail. I wanted to hit Air Bowl, so I tried to stay high on the traverse, but there was so much fresh powder everywhere it was easy to get distracted.
M didn't traverse as high as I did, and without meaning to, I quickly lost him. FAIL. I'm officially the worst tour guide ever. Then again, there is that saying, "no friends on a powder day." For all I know, HE ditched ME. I didn't quite stay high enough for Air Bowl, but I did manage to get to the woods just skier's right of it, and I blazed my own lines through the fresh powder, occasionally flopping on my face. It was one of those days when you really don't want to fall down, because when you try to stand up by pushing against the ground, the snow just sinks under your arms and you can't get any leverage. The snow was a little heavier that what we have become accustomed to here in Jackson, but it was deep and untracked. What more could I ask?
I did wait for a short while once I got to the bottom of Casper, just in case M was nearby. I had fallen a few times, so he might have been ahead of me. Eventually I gave up and spent the rest of the day seeking out other powder stashes. I found phenomenal snow in the trees by Sleeping Indian, and even the boulder field that is usually sketchy early season was completely covered. I decided to be ambitious and leap off a roller, but there was another roller directly below it, which I didn't clear. My board stopped, but my body did a forward somersault on the surface of the snow. It was deep and soft, so the only trouble was trying to get back up from my cozy spot in the powder. Luckily there was a tree nearby to help me hoist myself back onto my feet.
Eventually, my legs started to feel like jello, so I cut down Sundance Gully to return to the base area. Only the top half of the trail was groomed, so I took my time picking my way through other peoples' tracks in the flat light, and found myself at the bottom of the Gondola. Since lifties tend to rotate through the day, I encountered B at the bottom and asked him to pass my apologies to M. Maybe I'll run into him again tomorrow. I know where I'll be!
Jackson is home to some of the most unique weather in the country. The floor of the valley sits surrounded by mountains, so when high pressure prevails above, it pushes the cold air down and it has nowhere to go. Yesterday, the summit temperature was 15 degrees, and the base temperature was negative 15 degrees. Today, the base temperature was negative 3, and the summit temperature was 21.
I met up early with a friend from PA who asked me to "take it easy on him" so we took the gondola and headed down the groomers to Casper. The corduroy was unbelievable! After 3 days with no snow and temperatures below zero, I didn't expect a soft surface, but I was wrong. Apparently the cold temperatures kept the snow from melting and refreezing. Also, now that it's January, the mountain was practically deserted - even on a Saturday! We carved easily down Casper Liftline and headed up the lift.
Sleeping Indian was on the "groomed in the past 8 hours" list, so we headed there first. What a beautiful cruiser! The corduroy was fresh and soft and perfect, and we were high enough on the mountain that the warm temperatures and sunshine kept us comfortable. It was so good, we took it again.
I I asked my friend if he felt warmed up enough to take a tree run, and he said he though he could handle it. Moran woods had opened during the week, so I expected to find some tracks through it. We traversed about halfway in, but it looked so fresh I couldn't contain myself and I dropped in. There were shockingly few tracks through the woods, except in the wide open fields (which I normally avoid anyway.) I was having a ball, but my friend was not on his powder skis, and it was his first day of the season so..... yeah.
We traversed out of the trees onto Moran, and carved down to the Gondola. Once again, the corduroy was immaculate. My edges cut easily through the snow as I sped to the base. This run, we went over to Thunder by way of Ampitheater. Typically, I have to pick my way around people and moguls and icy areas that have been skied off, but today I saw a wide open slope with no obstacles and good snow so I took off down the hill. It didn't take me long to reach Thunder lift, and it was so nice we decided to hit it again. The trails off Thunder had definitely seen a lot more use than the Casper trails, but they were still skiing great. We took a run down the thin groomed part of Laramie Bowl, which had definitely seen a lot of action. By the time we got to the top of Sublette, I was getting tired and ready to call it a day. My freind took off on his own, and I folllowed Rendezvous Trail all the way back to Sublette. There was still plenty of snow on it to keep my edges, and after I passed Sublette I decided the snow on the North Colter Ridge looked soft enough from the traverse, so I dropped down into the foot deep powder.
Once again, I couldn't believe that the lower faces weren't more tracked. They had opened when Moran Woods opened, but apparently the cold temperatures scared people away, and most of the snow was deep and fresh. I was already tired, and each time I tried to turn and slow my momentum I tumbled into the powder. I rolled my way down the hill, managing to stay on my feet long enough to enjoy the beautiful conditions.
Near the bottom, There were a lot of twigs poking up through the snow, but to my amazement I didn't hit even one rock. I finally made my way down to the traverse to Union Pass lift, and headed back to the base. What a day!
After spending xmas day in the powder at Targhee, riding groomers at JHMR was anticlimactic. I was pretty tired, and it was cold at 9am, so I took my time getting to the slopes. I think it was 11am when I finally loaded onto the gondola for my first run. Temperatures had risen into the 20's, and the sun had burned away all the clouds, so it was a perfect, warm, bluebird day. When I got to the top, I took a look up headwall since it had just opened yesterday.
I overheard a few skiers who had just come down say it was nice, but they weren't sure it was worth the hike. Since I wasn't wearing my pack, and I wasn't too thrilled about riding the non-groomed mogul field (Laramie Bowl) between Thunder and Sublette, I decided not to bother. Ok, so maybe I was just feeling lazy. I admit it. My friend A was working for Elevation Imaging at the top of the gondi, so I stopped to say hello. There was a guy about to paraglide off the summit, and he wanted A to take pictures. Check it out at http://bit.ly/8Q2FTO if you're interested.
I decided to head over to Casper and stick to groomed trails. Upper Sundance had huge moguls, so I picked my way through them and stayed near the edge of the trail, carving through the skied off pile of snow that had accumulated there. I stopped to look back up the hill, and the sky was such a beautiful, bright blue that I had to take a picture of the gondola and the conditions.
I carved down Easy Does It, but I couldn't resist the untracked powder in the trees. It wasn't as deep as it appeared, but it wasn't bad at all. I carved deeper into the woods, only cutting back when I saw the traverse below me. I made it over to Casper Liftline, but it hadn't been groomed in a few days and the cover was getting thin. I crossed it and took the upper traverse to Moran, which had enough snow piled on the side of the trail to keep my edges. I stopped at the junction of South Pass Traverse and Lower Werner to look down over the halfpipe.
It looked like fun, and there was a little bit of a scene there. On another day, I would have hung out and hiked for a while, and probably met some cool people in the process. Did I mention that I was feeling lazy? I traversed over to Hanna, which is usually icy, but actually was the best run I took all day. Again, I was in the sluff on the side of the trail, but there was enough of it to keep me carving. The bottom of the trail is right at the convergence of the trail coming down from Teewinot and the loading area for Apres Vous. There was a gate to prevent speed demons from crashing into the liftline, which I slowly went around before cutting donw toward Bronco. Without the gate, I probably could have made it into Bronco, but I would have been a hazard to everyone around and I wasn't really in the mood to take the jumps anyway. Actually, the air isn't the problem - it's the landing. Since I'm still riding with a knee brace on my back leg, I don't think it's a good idea to put any unnecessary pressure on it. So I've only been hitting things that have really smooth landings that I know I can absorb easily. But it looked fun, and the kids in the park were going big.
Lower Teewinot was still fresh corduroy, so I took the opportunity to practice riding fakie and hopped back on the chair for another run. For those of my readers who aren't up on snowboarding lingo, fakie is when you ride backwards. In snowboarding, fakie and switch are often used interchangably, but in skateboarding there is a distinct difference. Fakie means you keep your feet in the same positin but you ride backwards, with the tail of your board leading the way. Switch means you turn your body around on the board, so your back leg is now closer to your nose, and your front leg is near the tail of the board, but the board is still travelling in the direction of the nose. I hope you're paying attention. There will be a quiz later. Right now, I'm going home to take a nap.
Xmas Powder at the 'Ghee Mood:
celebratory Topic: shred report
New Snow: 6" Conditions: powder
It's funny how the weather plays tricks on you sometimes. Last night, a foot of snow fell on Grand Targhee Resort. 20 miles away, on the other side of Teton Pass, not a single flake fell in the town of Jackson. Odd but true. So on Christmas morning, I packed all my gear into my car and made the trek to the other side, through Idaho and back into Wyoming, and up the steep access road to Targhee. I paused to breathe in the view as I approached the snow covered mountain.
The mountain wasn't deserted, but it certainly wasn't busy. I affixed my lift ticket and hopped onto Dreamcatcher lift. I saw a lot of tracks, but I also saw a lot of powder in between the tracks.
I've been to "The Ghee" a few times before, so I knew where I could find some less beaten paths. For starters, Sacajawea lift had just opened, so my plan was to head there. I traversed in that general direction, dropping off as soon as I saw some powdery fields. I cut down a run called Lightning Trees and floated through the deep snow. I stopped to catch my breath and sneak out my camera.
After a fantastic powder run, I found myself on a very flat traverse. On the left side of the trail I saw signs that said Sacajawea was open, but I didn't see any sort of pitch to the slope so I was wary of dropping off the traverse into a deep but flat field of powder. I stayed on the traverse until I reached the base area, where I came to a junction. I turned left and followed another traverse over to Sacajawea lift. I hopped right on the lift, since there was no line whatsoever, and headed up Peaked Mountain.
The snow wasn't quite as tracked here, and I took several runs through the trees and powder fields skiers' left of the lift. Although the cover was a little thinner than on dreamweaver, the snow was fresher. There were times when I just straightlined it, leaning back on my board to float across the snow. I'm used to skiing steep pitches (one of the hazards of being a Jackson local) and I'm also used to skiing tight trees, so the wide open trails made me feel as though I needed to retain as much speed as possible. There were definitely a few areas that were a bit sketchier, and I carefully picked my way through those, uncovering a few rocks and tree stumps without doing any serious damage to the base of my board.
I decided to take the high road (Showdancer) and hit Medicine Bowl. It looked tracked, but I could see lines between the tracks, and the snow looked nice. The trail flattened out and I maintained my speed to make it all the way up to the top of the ridge. I kept looking for a nice, steep pitch to carve down, but it all looked blue square (intermediate) to me. Finally, I selected a nice line with lots of powder that was over way too quickly. I decided it was too much groomed trail for not enough bowl, so I went back to riding the other side of the traverse.
On my way up the chairlift, I met a friendly local kid who offered to show me a sweet run. I made him promise not to get me stuck anywhere I would have to hike out of, and he assured me he knew where we were going. We cut under the lift to skiers' right and ducked down the steep face through the trees. The snow was phenomenal - knee deep and barely tracked at all. It opened up into a semi-flat field, which we followed over to the traverse.... the same traverse I had previously been too nervous to drop off of. My new friend was much bolder, and I followed him across an open sea of powder until... we got stuck. Can you say "sucker tracks"? Since the snow was so awesome, I forgave him, and we unstrapped but only had to hike a few feet up a little knoll to find a thin track through the snow. It was very obviously the bottom of a creek bed. I've been in that creek bed before, on previous trips to Targhee, so I knew it would eventually lead us back to Sacajawea. Of course, those days were later in the season, when multiple tracks and deeper snow surfaces existed. There was only one track, and in places it was too flat and we had to hop. There were also some fallen trees we had to duck under. Being short has its advantages! Eventually we wound our way out and back onto the groomed traverse to Sacajawea. My legs were burning and my goggles were fogged, but I had a whole lift ride up to recover. And take the same run one more time. It was getting late in the afternoon, and I was tired and hungry. Instead of dropping off the traverse into the creek bed, I followed it back to the base lodge and bought myself some chili. I decided to call it a day and headed home as the afternoon sun dropped closer to the horizon. (I would have headed "into the sunset" but to get home I had to drive East.) All in all, a happy, happy holiday!
Under the influence of Gossip Girl Mood:
mischievious Topic: couch potato commentary
Yes, I've watched every episode of Gossip Girl. More than once. Yes, now I'm reading the books, and yes, I read her blog. Check it out at http://gossipgirl.net if you're curious... although the real life one is about celebrities and she uses their full names.... So my point is this: If you've read my blog before, you may have noticed a change in the style. I'm using initials instead of actual names. Anyone who knows me will know whose initials those are. Anyone who doesn't, doesn't need to know. Of course, I don't have the luxury of choosing the names of all the characters who enter my life like Cecily von Ziegesar does, and I've already run into an issue with two A's and two E's.... but I think I'll figure that out somehow. I know other nicknames, such as "lonely boy" and "little j" have appeared on GG, and for herself it's always two letters, so I think I might have a solution. I guess we'll just have to wait until I ride with everyone at once to see if it really works.... Till then, you know you love me! XOXO
Tram, Sublette, and Thunder open! Mood:
party time! Topic: shred report
New Snow: 0" Conditions: Powder, packed powder
THE TRAM IS OPEN! My favorite thing about the tram is the fact that the Gondola line is always shorter and faster when people wait for the tram. Apparently the "no new snow today" made people forget that on Thunder, Sublette, and the Tram, ALL the snow that's fallen this season is "new." Or maybe there was a big party Friday night. Either way, the lines at both the tram and the gondola were nonexistent once the lifts opened.
My first run down Rendezvous Bowl was exactly what I expected. I was lucky enough to hit it before it was tracked, so it was soft, but deceiving. It looked like an open field of powder, and for the most part it was, but the surface underneath the powder is anything but flat. I stayed light on my feet and didn't just charge straight down, so I managed to avoid damaging my board on the hidden rocks I exposed. There really weren't very many, and I was definetly heard whooping and cheering as I carved out my first tracks of the season. The traverse back to Gros Ventre was brutal, but at least the corduroy was fresh, and I even found some nice, soft freshies on the left side of Rendezvous Trail. Lower GV was thin, but groomed enough to navigate, and before I knew it I was back at the base.
At 9:30, I met up with K and J and took the gondola, then made a beeline for Thunder. Since the lower part of Ampitheater had been open for two days, there wasn't a whole lot of untracked snow on it, and there were snowmaking guns near the bottom of the trail. So it was mainly skier packed moguls, which is not my first choice. The light was a little flat, so I was anxious to leave Thunder, but K and J wanted to take a run or two before heading over to Sublette so I followed them down the upper part of Ampitheater. I'm so glad I did - it was smooth and very fresh, and about a foot deep. It was so good, we took it again, this time cutting into the woods. As I made my way down, I saw K and J watching me and yelling to stay right. I followed their directions into a wide open, steep field of powder. Fantastic!
We decided to head over to Sublette chair, but Grand wasn't open yet so we took Laramie Bowl. The middle was tracked, but on the left side I found an untouched line and floated down without feeling anything more than a passing scrape on the bottom of my board. Near the bottom, I cut back onto the groomer and carved down to Sublette.
I suggested Bivouac woods for our next run, and the boys followed me. I stopped at the top of the treeline to wait, and K decided to spray me with powder since I was seated. Unfortunately, he misjudged the amount of snow on the trail, and a huge wave of snow utterly buried me, getting into my jacket and obscuring me completely from view for about two seconds. (Don't worry, K felt so guilty he offerred to buy me a drink when we stopped for a break.) It didn't bother me though, because once we cut into the woods it was the best, deepest powder run of the day! Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE trees?
After a brief lunch break at Casper Restaurant, we got a call from E who was on his way up the gondola, so we lapped Casper while we waited for him. Sleeping Indian hadn't been groomed and was basically moguls. In my attempt to find fresh lines on the side of the trail, I cut a little too close and landed next to a tree. Of course, the snow was so deep and soft that I couldn't get any leverage when I tried to stand up. I tried using a tree branch, but it wasn't quite high enough to pull me all the way up. I finally scooted down, rolled over, and carved back around onto the trail. Luckily the guys were patient. On the next lift up, I saw E making his way to the lift just after we had loaded onto it. We waited at the top, and decided to head back to the base. We traversed over to Moran and discussed the game plan. The guys wanted to take the tram, but I really wanted to check out the halfpipe. We've never had a halfpipe this early in the season, and I was excited to check it out. I was also way too tired to traverse back from Sublette again, so I bid the boys adieu and cut down to the halfpipe.
Park and Pipe crew did a fabulous job getting the pipe ready - it was smooth and perfectly shaped. My technique wasn't quite so smooth and perfect, but it was a blast anyway. I carved the rest of the way to the base and headed back to town, exhausted but satisfied.
First Day on the Gondola Mood:
energetic Topic: shred report
New Snow: 3" Conditions: Powder, Packed powder
On Thursday, the Gondola opened, and today, Casper Lift opened! I started down Gros Ventre, but quickly cut through the trees into a sea of powder. It was great near the top, and I followed the Gondola line down until I got to the closed signs on the second or third traverse I crossed.
I cut back over to Gros Ventre, which was ungroomed and rather thinly covered. I picked my way down to the lower traverse, where the groomers and snowmakers had been hard at work, and easily carved the rest of the way down to the base. My next run, I started to head over toward Casper, but I got a text from a friend who was on his way to the mountain so I kept traversing over to AV and took Moran to the bottom.
Ordinarily, I would head into to woods, but my friend was on new skis that "had to make it through the season." We decided to check out Ampitheater. I hit some of the ungroomed areas between the traverses, but he went straight down the trail. Not that I could have kept up with him anyway, and man, did I try. What a ripper! He did hit all the little kickers on the side of the traverse over to Ampitheater, which enabled me to keep him in sight. Luckily for me, he was polite enough to stop and wait at each intersection. Ampitheater was tracked and mogully, and the light was really flat. Of course, my previous life as an East Coast snowboarder does give me one advantage - I know how to maintain speed on a traverse! That and a good wax job enabled me to catch up before we got over to casper.
We took a run down Sleeping Indian, which was ungroomed. Warm temperatures and sunshine had taken their toll, and the moguls were mushy mashed potatoes. Yet another surface condition with which I have had opportunity to practice, and on which I was able to keep up. I found some untracked lines down the side of the trail, but I also found some rocks. My theory is - if you don't destroy your equipment, you're not riding hard enough. Maybe that's the REAL reason I put the SHRED in punk rock shred grrl. After one run, we decided to head back over to the gondola, so we carved over to Moran and sped down Teewinot.
Instead of traversing, we took a run down Gros Ventre. I hadn't hit the top, since I had been in the trees, and I skirted the edge of the trail, hitting powder whenever I saw it. About halfway down the trail, we saw lots of twigs and branches poking out of the snow. There were definitely a few rocks there, too. We managed to get to the lower traverse and zoomed to the bottom. I was beat, but of course we had to take another run before we left. What does not kill us makes us stronger. Go big or go home.
FINALLY - some real snow to report! I raced out onto the slopes and took an early run. I had forgotten my knee brace at home, but I decided that it was just a crutch, and I wasn't going to miss out on a day of fresh powder. Soft, floaty turns on a bed of powder over the smooth corduroy beneath. I was interrupted by a text message from my friend A on his way to the hill, so I returned to the base to find him. And grab a snack at Cafe 6311. I took a run up Teewinot to the MOB (mountain operations building) and met him at his locker. He had kindly brought a spare knee brace for me, but sadly it was not the right size and I couldn't make it work.
Meanwhile, I got a text from my friend K, who was just getting to the mountain with our other friends, J and E. K and J are skiers, and E is a snowboarder. They said they were going to head up Teewinot and lap A.V., and I told them I'd meet them up there.
Once A got himself dressed, we headed up the lift and took a few runs together. Since he's just learning to telemark, we went slow, and I got in some fakie practice. Moguls were starting to appear, and a haze of fog had descended over a good chunk of the upper mountain. I found myself inadvertently catching air because the light was so flat. Yikes.
A few runs later, we caught up with K, J, and E. They wanted to take Moran, but A decided to take Werner and work on his tele technique. I followed K, J, and E down Moran, and the race was on. These guys were more aggressive in their style, and it pushed me to work harder and ride faster. I even followed K off a few little kickers, which I had been avoiding on earlier days. Maybe it was partially due to the softer landings with all the new snow, or maybe it was just peer pressure. Either way, it felt great, and I finally rode all day instead of packing it in early. Hopefully, with all this new snow, they'll be able to open the Gondola before next weekend!
I said that all I wanted for Chanukah was some snow, and I got my wish! Late, late Friday night it started coming down, and by 9 AM there was already 3" on the ground. Unfortunately, I had also been awake late, late Friday night, and was already exhausted before I even got out on the hill. I actually took a power nap for about 20 minutes, but that just made me even more sleepy. I wasn't willing to give up a day of riding on new snow, so I toughed it out and headed over to A.V.
Hanna did, in fact, open. I decided to check it out, and zoomed down Upper Werner to Lower Hanna. 3" at the summit does not mean 3" on the lower part of the mounatain, so it was basically just corduroy with a soft dusting of new snow. But it continued to snow all day, and I knew it would just get better and better.
As I rode up the chairlift, my blinks become longer and longer, until I realized my eyes had been closed for about 4 towers. I was nodding off. Not ideal. Halfway down the next run, I took a break, and while I was seated at the side of the trail, I dug out the camera and snapped away.
There was just enough snow to dig your edges into, but not enough to float. I managed to take one more run, this time down Moran. I stayed on the right side of the trail, just off the edge of the groomer, where there actually was a little bit of soft snow. Of course, halfway down, there was a race course, which I maneuvered around, but just after the course I returned to the edge of the trail and found the best snow of the day. Small moguls were beginning to form, and I knew before long a mini-terrain park would appear. Unfortunately, my lack of sleep was finally catching up with me, and I had to head to the base because I was also feeling dehydrated. After 4 cups of water, I decided to play it safe and head home, where I promptly fell asleep, snowflakes dancing down through my dreams while they continued to fall outside.