Saturday, January 01, 2011

Bitter cold New Year backcountry ski

A great tele slope above Rogers Pass

Some sun and exercise helped with the cold
New Year 2011 rolled in with a bitter chill, the temperatures well below zero and winds howling.
We bundled up with extra layers and headed for our annual New Year's backcountry ski trip at Rogers Pass on the Continental Divide Trail.
We headed to the east up our favorite gully, thinking the trees would give us shelter from the wicked, cold wind.
They didn't.
We found the snow crusted and difficult to break and we worried about a crusty, icy and treacherous ride back down.
But as we moved up the snow became better, the 24 inches of so that had fallen during the past week, fluffily perched atop an icy base.
We moved south just below the divide ridgeline and while the trees thickened, we found even better snow and decided the open bowls and gullies there would make an even better tele descent.
While the wind chills were between minus 20 and 40, the sun shone brightly when we cleared the trees and was warm enough that we even sat on a hillside and enjoyed a leisurely, if somewhat cold lunch.
We took about six up and down runs in the opens and through the trees before ending our outing.
The wind was still howling as we approached the car, with ground blizzard conditions on Highway 200.
But the fine snow, the discovery of some new tele turn slopes, and the bright sunshine that lit up fantastic views of the west side satisfied this group that it would indeed be a happy new year.

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