Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Heather Ridge (or How I Tried to Kill My Brother)

Mmmm...another great weekend skiing Heather Ridge. Again, we were blessed with deep light snow and clearish weather. BUT, things were looking bad in Monroe when Andrea realized that she had forgotten her jacket. No worries, she would ski in the puffy jacket she always keeps at the bottom of her pack. All loaded up with coffee, things were looking to go swimmingly. But upon arrival at the trailhead, disaster came in the form of me realizing I had forgotten what is probably the single most important item for backcountry skiing short of skis and boots - skins. Ouch, this was gonna hurt.
It was Nick's first time out with all his gear so we resolved to take it slow, do a little beacon practice, and see just how many vertical feet a pair of size 25.5 Scarpa Lazers can take one when the snow is thigh deep. (Sigh, it really was thigh deep.)

Nick looking for my skins
Turns out, skins schmins, I could cover pretty good ground, especially when the skin track was already well set by other skiers and snowshoers. We skied about 2800' vertical in all, a great day considering we spend more than an hour practicing our beacon searches, including multiple burial scenarios. Andrea was the fastest, armed with a BCA Tracker finding 2 buried "bodies" in under three minutes. And that was after Nick buried the beacons close together to make the search harder. I'm glad she is my partner.

Speed-beacon-finding mama
In true Greg Stump style, Nick got the scare of the day in our second run. I had dug a pit on the NW aspect of a ridgeline that had been subject to some wind. I observed Q2 failures at SC10 about 10-15 cm down. Nick picked a line through a 50 degree chute that left little room for error. Just as he entered the chute, a crack shot from his tracks to trees on the side of the chute and weak areas just below the trees began to break apart. Nick pulled up just in time to cowboy over the rocks...

Nick's crack
Actually, he skied out just fine and the chute didn't go but it was a good reminder that we have to stay on our toes. Emerson was following Nick and for some reason turned tail just before Nick skied off and picked a more mellow line down. It's freaky how in tune to this stuff dogs are. Nick was a little shaken and kept asking "How come I have to go first all the time" for the rest of the day but we explained that because we were so good at beacon searching, he had to get buried. And Emerson was too smart. Well, Nick had enough juice left in him the rest of the day to shred the gnar, no worries about that.

All the videos we took turned out sideways so we will have to hit up some new ones next week. And tomorrow, Alpental on my new skis! (hint 4FRNT VCTs).


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