Monday, January 26, 2009

Frosty telemarking on the 'Rock'

Jim Heckel does tele turns on Great Divide run
I hear that locals refer to Great Divide Ski Area as the "Rock."
Lots of wind sweeps the snow off Mount Belmont where it's located, exposing Continental Divide granite --- thus, the name.
In a sense the skiers in Great Falls were between a rock and a hard place Sunday looking for decent snow and temperate enough weather to enjoy the backcountry.
Wind chills were running near 30 below at Showdown and it had gotten about 2 inches of snow. It wasn't much better at Great Divide near Helena, and the area had been skied hard enough that rock was exposed in many spots.
Saturday probably would have been the better day for backcountry skiing. I had reports from O'Brien Creek skiers in the Little Belts that temperatures there were in the teens and the snow pretty good, but fast.
I read Matt Marcinek's blog and he went to the Front and skied North Waldron Creek and found pretty good snow, but pretty cold temperatures like we did.
We made the most of the day as Jim Heckel shared with us his excitement about the Big Open country off Rawhide that he describes as as close to skiing backcountry as you can get on a ski hill.
You had to be careful, though.
The recent warm weather had iced up the bowls and there was little new powder on top that.
We enjoyed this area, but is was making the best of a marginal situation.

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