Sunday, January 24, 2010

Salvaging a great snow day

Getting into place for some turns

I'm happy with this slope
After two weeks of Chinook weather that cleared the snow from Great Falls and gave us spring-like temperatures, we got nailed Friday and Saturday with a dump of snow and the return of winter.
I spent much of Saturday digging out and the roads were questionable for a backcountry trip.
We had been tracking the storm and saw that the west side of the Continental Divide had gotten much less than the east side.
So off we went, headed for Hogum Creek near Lincoln on the west side, bouyed by the great skiing we had there two weeks ago.
We figured that there had been pretty good snow since we last visited. Wrong.
In fact, we could still see our tracks from two weeks ago.
We used the trip to explore an area further east of where we went last time and then doubled back over some of the terrain we had covered before.
What we found was a thin layer of snow on top of a sturdy layer of ice and hardpack.
It made tele turns precarious.
That was compounded by elk beds and lots of tracks that had churned the snow and was now iced over.
All I could think of was that one false move could be a career ending injury.
We left early just as the sun broke through and the skies cleared to a deep, cloudless blue.
On the way home we stopped at Rogers Pass and headed up the south side into a creek bottom.
We gained around 800 feet in spectacular powder, quite a contrast with Hogum Creek, only 10 miles to the west.
We floated down back to the pass atop fluffy, deep powder. I estimate the new powder was more than two feet deep.
When we started we realized we had made a mistake choosing Hogum Creek, but had recouped with the Rogers Pass sidetrip.

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