Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shoulder season skiing

Mark Hertenstein in Deadman bowls
The good snow in the Little Belts at Showdown saved me from another “Shoulder Season” down weekend like last weekend.
The area got about 10 inches in the past week on top of about 25 inches of settled hardpack. It was about perfect because there was no wind and temperatures in the 20 degrees range.
I did two runs each on Quicksilver, Speculation and Muley, finding Speculation had the best snow for continuous tele turns while Muley was a bit chopped up and icy.
It was fun to bump into George Willett, Showdown’s owner, skiing uphill in his telemark boots.
Heck, this is a guy who could get to the top by simply throwing a switch and taking the lifts.
What’s more, George is probably over 70 years old.
Last night’s Banff Mountain Film Festival opening in Great Falls must have inspired the hearty backcountry crowd who, like me, opted for uphill skiing. I counted six cars at the pass and more than a dozen skiers, some snowboarders and a snowshoer.
I was the first one on the hill Saturday and had my six runs all to myself.
Looking over at Baldy and Yogo across U.S. 89 to the east I found tons of great snow.
What kept me from going into that backcountry were the hunters swarming that area, many of them revved up on their ATVs. Snowmobile season is still several weeks away (thankfully).
Before I headed back down soft powder snow began sprinkling the hill.
The only disagreeable part of the day was coming Lower Quicksilver, which had been chopped up by the groomer. Since it had frozen it was treacherous skiing back down.
The really good, skiable snow was limited to the summit cap.

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