Sunday, January 06, 2013

A new place to ski right under our noses

A potpourri of shots from our day of skiing.
Mark Hertenstein went hunting for a new place to pull telemark turns in the backcountry and came back with a real dandy --- right under our noses.
We had skied for years in the Weatherwax Bowls near Kings Hill in the Little Belts, but had stopped short on its east ridge, often because the bowls are so hammered by snowmobilers.  Sunday was no exception.  Throughout the day we could hear the whine and roar of distant snowmobiles, and caught a brief glimpse of one that had entered our area, and quickly left.
The bowls hang of the far eastern face of Weatherwax in an area that is sheltered from most winds and is probably too small to attract more than an handful of snowmobilers.
We saw tracks of what had probably been AT downhill skiers who hit the area and created some deep furrows that jarred us when we skied across them.
The upper slopes were steeper than the lower slopes, more than 33 degrees, enough to make me consider the avalanche possibilities.  We skied about half-way across the bowls where slopes below us began at 28 degrees and tapered to 21 degrees.
A snow pit Jim Heckel dug revealed a very strong snowpack.  The snow itself was about 2.5-3 feet deep and very powdery.
At the half-way point we could descend, cutting 10-13 turns per run.
Mark took 17 runs, so he got well over 170 turns.  Not a bad day.
Although the wind howled elsewhere in this mountain range, it was calm and perfect and a just-right upper 20s for temperature.
I'm certain to be stiff tomorrow from all the yo-yo skiing in these beautiful bowls.
The "East" Weatherwax bowls

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