Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Deadman social

Tele snow was underlain with ice

Colleen Mercer crosses the snow bridge on the first mile
Sometimes I overlook the role that companionship plays in my outdoor adventures.
I seek solitude, the exercise and the setting when I set off into the backcountry.
However, I also enjoy the company of my fellow skiers and climbers.
Such was the case on Sunday when Nancy Dow introduced me to some of her workout friends from the Nautilus health spa in Great Falls. She planned a Deadman ridge ski trip in the Little Belt Mountains.
I was immediately skeptical about this group’s capabilities of doing this 8-mile stretch, which has a number of long uphill and downhill pulls. Some of the stretches promised to be icy and treacherous. They all had outdated skis and boots, and most had never used climbing skins. I figured the trip was doomed to failure.
How wrong I was!
This was a hearty group of good-natured outdoors enthusiasts who weathered the trip quite well and were a joy to accompany.
They took to coaching well, and none complained of the rigors of being out on a cold winter day in the snow for nearly six hours.
I’m usually so intent on an endurance experience that I rarely socialize.
The good humor of this group reminded me that skiing in a group like this is time well spent.
I’ve done Deadman dozens of times, so the company enlivened what might have otherwise been a routine workout.
Regarding the snow conditions, there is about two feet of good powder on top of a deep layer of sugar snow.
That means the possibilities of avalanche were real. In fact, they main remain real for the rest of the winter if the top layer slides over that unstable bottom layer.
We exercised telemark caution throughout the day.

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