Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday I headed out to one of my favorite stashes with my wife and a couple of good friends. The forecast was for a foot or more of snow overnight and then gradually clearing during the day. Early season storms can be deceiving, especially when there isn't much of a base, so we were cautiously optimistic as we loaded up the 4Runner and hit the road. But we had a good feeling about this one, and as the saying goes, “you don't know if you don't go.”
Skinning up the trail towards alpine zone, we knew we had made the right call and were in for a treat. The storm came in warm and with uncharacteristically little wind. At treeline, we found a foot or more of fresh snow with no wind affect that was bonding well to the old snow below. In other words, perfect riding conditions.
Discussing our snow, avalanche, and weather observations, we felt very confident about the snow stability and decided to head up to one of the alpine bowls for a longer run.
Our smiles widened as we pushed to the Continental Divide. The avalanche hazard remained minimal and the snow was classic Colorado powder! A few storm clouds still lingered, dropping the occasional flakes, and teasing us with brief glimpses of the terrain above. As we topped out, the clouds lifted and the sun shown through, illuminating our skin track and highlighting our line of descent. We quickly ripped skins, agreed on our descent plan, and headed down to take advantage of the good visibility.
It's days like these the remind me why I love being in the mountains and sliding on snow.
See you in the backcountry.
AIARE Level 1 and 2 Instructor
Want to improve your knowledge of avalanche hazard and confidence in decision making in the mountains? Join CMS for a L1 Avalanche Course or a day of guided backcountry skiing this winter.