Tuesday, January 17, 2017

can't figure it out

We have come to the realization that we just cannot figure out the ski crowds.  We assumed that Saturday would be slammed since it was Saturday, and gorgeous weather, and there was all that fresh, untracked snow to play in.  Yes, there were some lift lines but it never seemed that crowded.  And then on Sunday, which was Sunday and no new snow, the lift lines were way bigger - but our bus ride down canyon didn't even fill all the seats.  It is pretty much impossible anymore to guess what the day will bring, people-wise.

We got the conditions bang on the money, however.  Weather-wise, it was a carbon-copy of Saturday: blue skies and good temperatures (starting at 18F and finishing up in the low 30s).  The snow was holding up well too and even though it was all tracked out, off-piste was still pretty soft.  H decided to get back on his telemark skis and I brought my turny little Salomons so I could play on the bumps.  After a couple of Collins runs in the shade - pausing now and again to watch ski patrol bomb the heck out of upper Baldy so they could open the Baldy Chutes at midday - we both moved over to Sugarloaf to ski in the sun.  While H did his tele turns on Devil's Elbow and Extrovert, dodging other skiers, I moved off the groomers to try to get warmed up, doing a few runs down Chartreuse Nose.  The lift lines were stacking up but I don't know where all these people were skiing as I largely had those runs to myself.  It was all bumped up, making me grateful for my little Salomons, but the bumps were chalky and soft and fun to ski.

The porcupines out here are golden-colored

Just for fun, I did a Cabin Run (getting pretty skied out but quick and fun) and then booked it over to Supreme so I could hike into Catherine's Area to try to get warmer.  Again, the lift lines were huge (but only took 5-6 minutes if you were riding singles) but the trails were pretty open.  I hiked in to Snowshoe Hill and lost all the other people who were on the traverse.  The snow was chunked up but still soft, deep enough that my wider skis would have done better on certain pitches.  I found the resident porcupine on the last pitch out of Catherine's: he was perched way up in an Engelman spruce, munching his way through the pinecons, and when I called "hey, buddy!" he slowly turned his head and regarded me with utter disdain.

After lunch, I did a run through Devil's Castle (had it to myself, didn't ski it very well, wrecked my legs) and then hooked up with H who was doing laps on Supreme.  We saw a bunch of people making the trek up East Castle; it looked appealing but I didn't have the legs for it and H didn't want to take his tele skis up there.  My legs called it quits around 2:30, the bumps runs and hikes having taken their toll.  We booked it down to Goldminer's Daughter, pounded PBRs and caught the 3 p.m. bus down-canyon, back into the inversion murk.  It was forecasted to be another bluebird day for Monday's holiday - we're expecting big crowds but at this point, who can really say?

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