Thursday, February 24, 2011
after some consultation with a couple of backcountry gurus, taking into account parental duties, and looking at some snotel sites, a small group of us headed north of WF to look for the goods.
i have sworn to secrecy the whereabouts of our trip, but it was certainly unknown to me, and i look forward to heading back with our hosts.
the snowmobile ride let us know from the start what was in store, as we hit nearly a foot of new on the trail right off the bat, and it just got deeper. as a complete and total novice, perhaps even beginner sledder, i just did what i could to keep our track on the road in out of the stuff too deep to drive. i did okay, only losing the track once, with a small flip on the side that was quickly righted.
our skin track was knee deep, but we found a super safe route thru the trees, and made pretty good progress, climbing 2000' in under two hours. only in the last 300' vert did we hit massive drifts, dense snow and "arduous" travel. (arduous, as reported by snow safety scientist erich from a week ago in the gcac obs page. check it out). the very first turn justified the effort, and i knew the day would be worth the hassles and cold everything.
with the advent of shaped then fat, then uber fat skis, it is harder all the time to find face shots. as a skier over 6' in height, there are extremely rare for me. but this was 800' of all face shots, and not much vision. twice i skied over rocks and trees i did not see until the last minute.
back to the uphill, and still colder than bejeezus, we quickly gained a saddle. but he ridge we needed to ascend would not be possible with the drifts and massive winds. so we moved forward on the lee side, and this went fine, just slow, as we moved thru myriad trees. finally we got to our point for our ascent, which would eventually take us right to our sleds. this was a long run thru trees and into a narrow drainage, that was so filled in, there was room to spare for our group of four. the snow was incredibly stable, and again, face shots reigned. our group leader mentioned it to be the deepest snow he had been in in many years. for me, make that about 10.
back at the sleds, we realized that the pre trip plan to be out in time to meet and greet kids home from school, would not be met, but we had been safe and travel had been hard. my sled partner decided to take a tow instead of a ride, which was fine, until i suddenly decelerated to clear my sideview mirrow (my sled is a huge four stroke, kind of a caddie of sleds). joel got caught up in the tow rope when i re-accelerated, which i did not notice until i had dragged him a hundred yards or more. fortunately, i was not going too fast, and he was fine and did not even threaten to beat the crap out of me, or push me out of the drivers seat.
back at the truck, after 5 pm, we were met with a beer (really, in below zero temps, and it still tasted great) i have been getting pretty good at loading my sled up my steep ramp, but when my first attempt came up a bit short, i over gunned it the second time, slammed my skid thru the cross beams of the head rack, and right thru the back window of my truck. with the heat cranked throughout the drive home, it never really got warm,but was tolerable. yet another lesson learned. okay, maybe i am a beginner sledder, but i took my lessons well, and look forward to my nest venture out.