In hind sight, I should have Dawn Patrolled this tour. But the storm went by faster than I had anticipated which resulted in no snow during the morning or afternoon. My timing was all out of whack. I left work early to go earn some turns down the road at closed Burke Mountain. I arrived to find a snow covered Burke Mountain begging for turns to be made on any untracked line I desired.
The untracked was not exactly powdery due to a warm afternoon baking under the sun. I was in a race against the time of consolidation when I first began skinning. But I slowly shook off my haste as untracked is untracked regardless of consistency. The snow was moist but not completely wet and packed down, but rather wet with a little fluff which is an odd combination. It looked like fun as it proved to be.
I tracked up Lower Warren’s Way to Bear Den to Willoughby on the skin up. As I approached mid-mountain, I noticed the wet snow was slightly slabbed on the surface of open slopes with a more powdery and lighter consistency on skier’s left under the trees. Duly noted for the descent! Four inches of the thick consistency stuff was the rule with deeper pockets occasionally. I suspect Burke picked up six inches at mid-mountain before the snow began consolidating.
Since this was my first tour after recovering from my broken elbow, I had three important items to evaluate. Primarily, I was trying out my Freerides for the first time since the accident. Rationally and reasonably, I knew the problem that caused the accident was a bad DIN setting. But I wanted an easy run to regain some of that unconscious trust before tackling tougher tours. Also, I was was trying testing my elbow which held up admirably during the ascent. I was able to stabilize most of, if not my entire, body weight on my right arm with a pole plant. Finally, I recently purchased a Patagonia Ready Mix Jacket which totally rocks my world and was just the layer I was missing. The jacket works really well for skiing as a light climbing layer and Spring Skiing shell. My only complaint is the sizing runs small, even with an XL I felt slightly constrictive with a fleece underneath. No big deal though as otherwise the jacket performs admirably and feels great, a definite thumbs up for a light weight wind jacket.
First turns off the summit were… less than graceful. My skis were not going where my input was requesting to say the least. The snow was as unedgable wind blown slab. However, the slab like conditions did not ski like powder either. I adjusted my powder technique to fit the conditions which worked better than adjusting my edging technique. Just above The Jungle entrance, I found sweet powder on skier’s left and I rocked it like a hurricane. The powder felt soooooo nice. By the time I got to The Birches entrance, even skier’s left was “wet fluff,” so I looked at the entire trail of beautifully untracked white and decided to put some big half eights into the snow, sah-weet!!! I tightened up the turns as I approached Bear Den and ripped some great turns down skier’s right as I approached the Quad. I nearly doubled over from laughing so hard about the fact that I had the entire place to myself. Maybe it was only four to six inches of “wet fluff,” but it was all mine on a beautiful April afternoon with not a soul in sight.
The way this season has gone, I think it might be just getting started…