Monday, December 15, 2008

First Tour in the PNW

Rain was still falling in the pre-dawn darkness on Saturday morning, but the chill in the air confirmed what we’d seen on the mountain telemetry data. The arctic system that blew in on Friday packed a punch, leaving 18” of snow down to mid-elevations and bringing a much-needed start to winter in the Pacific Northwest.

Crystal opened the lifts to the south, but we gathered the troops and swung north to follow the heaviest part of the storm. With little existing base, we headed to the closed Stevens Pass ski area, with the hopes of a tune-up tour and some powder without too much damage.

(Karhu Brand Director Charlie Lozner checks out the liftline on the backside. Photos by Graham Gephart.)

We certainly weren’t the only ones with the idea, but there was enough snow to go around. Winter suddenly felt very real again, and I realized how much I’d missed the patter of snowflakes falling on my steaming head and shoulders while skinning. From the top, we skied a couple laps, the muscles coming back into the groove more and more each time.

(Bruce Jahnke from the test lab crosses a water hazard.)

(Development engineer Chris Barchet goes exstream skiing.)

The lack of base meant enough hazards – rocks, down logs, open water – to break up any real long flow of turns. But there was enough to link a few together, and we even found one little pillowy section that teased at the goods to come.

(Elizabeth Lozner makes short work of the pillows.)

By the time we climbed up for our third lap, the snow picked up again with urgency. In no time flat, we were all climbing with shoulders covered in a solid inch, and a light puff emerged from under step as the skis slid forward on the skintrack. All in all, a great warm up to start the season, and looking forward to more to come.

(Chris leads back up for more turns.)

(Acculumation on the skintrack up, can't wait for more.)

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1 comment:

Colorado Telehead said...

Nice! Although I've gotten over 30 days in since October, only until around last week was it good enough to hit the backcountry here in Colorado. Some areas are still a little thin, but a couple areas give you a nice 5 mile skin up and a long run down. Finally!