Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Let the backcountry ski season begin!

Katie Myers practicing tele turns
There’s no denying it. No matter how dry and warm the weather is down here in Great Falls, there’s enough snow in the high country for cross country and backcountry skiing.
I’ve been out twice now and the skiing is good above about 6,500 feet in the Little Belts Mountains south of town.
It was particularly beautiful on Tuesday, Dec. 28. The skies were bluebird and sunny. The hoarfrost on the snow twinkled so much it brought the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” to mind.
I had gotten out two days before Christmas to limber up and test the snow off King’s Hill Pass.
I had the usual problem of fighting the downhill skier traffic to the pass.
About three miles from the top I came on a car pulled off to the side of the road and the driver looking over the side into a steep ravine. I looked down and there was one of the trucks that had passed me dangerously on a curve. It was on its top. Luckily, none of the four guys in the car were hurt and they were able to climb out through one of the windows.
My friend H. Wayne Phillips was the first to lay down tracks on the Deadman Creek run from the pass on Monday, Dec. 27.
I followed his tracks Tuesday about halfway through, lingering in the telemark slopes to practice and find out what kind of early season shape I’m in. Not bad.
At that 7,000 foot level there is about 18 inches of snow; about six powder/hoar on top of an icy base of about a foot. I suspect there could be avalanche potential after the coming storms top it.
We stopped briefly at the Silvercrest track ski area and saw numerous cars and skiers there.
I say let this season begin, if belatedly!

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