Friday, April 26, 2013

nearing season's end

The storm rolled out early Saturday evening, leaving us with clear skies, bright sunshine and warmer temperatures for Sunday.  It also brought out quite a few fair weather spring skiers; the lifties had to control the lift line for a while but we never waited that long to get on the chair.  They even opened the Wildcat chair for a couple of hours to diffuse the crowds so we got to ride that one last time for the season.

In the Ballroom

The snow was absolutely fantastic.  There was a lot of it and it was soft right from the start.  We skied around as much as we could.  The Ballroom was in good shape, deep and chunky.  We went through the gates to Sugarloaf several times: cruising down over Razorback to the lake and below to swing by Supreme chair, carving nice turns on Extrovert, checking out the cabins in the trees.  We did a run off the Wildcat chair and the snow in the trees and chutes was fantastic.

Supreme cut-off

On the front side, we took High Traverse (for my first time all season) above Sunspot and climbed up to the notch in the cliffs.  On the other side is Gunsight, a "steep, narrow, long, straight, fall-line chute," rated a 9.5 in difficulty by The Powder Hound's Guide to Skiing Alta.  H had skied it  once early in the season when there wasn't so much snow; this would be my first time ever skiing it.  It was incredible and well worth the substantial hike.  We had it all to ourselves and the snow was just so deep that it didn't seem to matter how steep and narrow the chute was.  At the bottom we crossed the meadows of Greely Hill, where the snow was very heavy and sticky as it soaked in the beating sunshine, and came out in the bunny-slopes.

Catching our breaths atop Gunsight

The snow turned into mashed potatoes after lunch, getting heavier and heavier as the afternoon wore on.  By 3:30 p.m. my little legs couldn't take it any longer and I was getting bounced around, so I took my skis back to the truck and commandeered a table at the GMD patio.  H skied until the chair closed and I had a PBR waiting for him when he joined me.  The crowd had thinned by then and we were able to sit quietly for a bit, enjoying the end of our third-to-last day of the 2012/2013 ski season.

Looking down Gunsight (doesn't seem so tough)

Not to boast or anything, but I'd like to go back and expand on Gunsight's 9.5 Powder Hound rating.  The book describes 9.0+s thusly:  "Retreat from approach or within run impossible or nearly impossible.  Substantial danger due to angle, exposure, physical features or other factors exists for skiers of any competence level.  Failure of nerve or technique may place skier in serious physical jeopardy.  High level of competence required to successfully navigate approach and pitch.  Skier must be able to turn and check irrespective of terrain.  Rescue will be very difficult."  For comparison's sake, the main chute on Baldy is also a 9.5.  If I'd known all that before we started hiking up to Gunsight, I might not have done it.  But in hindsight, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

At the bottom of Gunsight

No comments:

Post a Comment