|H. Wayne Phillips deep into a pit checking snow conditions|
|The fog was something to contend with|
|Deep snow made turning difficult|
It might have more appropriately been called the “Geezer Run.” Three of the five skiers were over 60, and I’ll be 60 in April. Our youngest skier was 54.
In Great Falls the temperature was minus 7 when we left. It was warmer than that in the Showdown area where we started the trip.
There was a pretty stiff wind all day, and lots of fog and overcast that obscured our views.
There was about 3-5 inches of new snow on the ground that had fallen overnight.
The trip entails climbing to the top of the ski area and skiing south along the Mizpah Ridge. An east-west ridge between Nugget and Ranch Creek intersects at about 4 miles. We skied that ridge east, back to Highway 89 to a waiting car.
At the intersection of the Nugget-Ranch divide it becomes off-trail. The route alternates between open ridge and forest. There are numerous places where telemark turns are handy. At the end of the run is a clearcut, where the turns are especially fun.
We stopped a the Mizpah Bowls and yo-yo’d and dug an avalanche pit.
What we found was multiple layers sitting on an 18-inch layer of hoar frost. Above that is a six inch layer of ice. On top of that is more than 2-feet of fresh snow.
A test was applied and the fresh snow slid easily across the layer of ice.
We figured that the Mizpah slope was at less than a 30 percent angle, and thus stable enough to try.