My backcountry days are normally limited to late season on Mount Washington. But three days after more than a foot of fresh covered much of New Hampshire, it was a sure bet that even the most secret of stashes at the resorts would have been hammered into submission. It was time to take to the backcountry for a rare mid-season powder day via earned turns.
If a 5 minute hike keeps 95% of the skiers away, then a 95 minute hike keeps greater all but less than 1% of skiers away. Despite that fact, the skin track was already set and we were grateful. Temperatures remained cold but comfortable all day with almost no wind except near the summit. Sunny blue skies rained supreme with occasional cloud cover every few hours.
Day two of White Mountains backcountry revealed rugged terrain and conditions in all their wickedness. Weather was a factor as the temperature rose throughout the morning. Upon reaching the summit, we suspected a temperature inversion was at play (though being steamy on the summit was perhaps due to other factors!).
A long and tiring traverse followed by a horrendously wet bushwhack brought us to the goods. With spruce trees essentially raining on our parade due to melting snow, we made the best turns we could through the soaking wet snow. Challenges included continuously having to free our bases from stuck snow. Certainly not for the faint of heart, today’s foray in the White Mountain backcountry would have revealed much better conditions before the warm up began. Despite the challenges of this epic tour, we were out of the woods well before dinner with big toothy grins and clothes soaked to the bone.
With powder long since been tracked up and packed down at ski areas, it was high time to hit the backcountry and sample week old powder. Thus, I voyaged north to the backyard of my heart and sampled what the White Mountains backcountry had on tap. Offerings were substantially better than expected given how many days have passed since the last storm. Six inches of fluff was pillaged with deeper sections up high and in drifts.
Epic turns were had on a particularly sweet and perfectly pitched tight chute featuring sporadic trees and a meandering double fall line. The run ended with somewhat boring final turns on a switchback like route that ended with a skin out to white pastures. Evidence of recent animal tracks of all varieties were abundant in the snow. Most notably, at one point, I was following the tracks of a rather large moose which was somewhat concerning. The silence was blissful and the contact with nature and true rugged backcountry terrain was stunning.