Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Slightly better than laying laminate

Today I started out with a plan to go up to one of our rentals and start the aduaous cleaning process. I had some plans to ski but they seemed to have fallen through. So I get a text from Dirk at 830 that states "How soon can you be ready" because he is already waiting at Einsteins. Yikes so I throw my stuff together and bolt. The only thing I got to check was the current temps, in the top 2 things to check, especially on days like today when the high altitude temps are reading from -3 to about 8 degrees with forcasted high winds at the ridge tops. So after a quick bagel we head out and decide on skiing Wilson via Butler. The skin up is long, and I'm already tired, but it is beautiful, like you see in calendars, blue skies, bright sun (this isn't good for those South aspects) cold snow and huge crystals on top of the snowpack that where most likely the last part of the storms 3% snow. This Crystals reflect light up into your eyes so that the snow pack looks like its covered in huge 5 carat diamonds.

(A note of caution here, you MUST wear your good, UVA, UVB blocking sunglasses here to protect your eyes from a very, very painful thing called snow blindness. I had it once, about 15 years ago and remember it vividly. Its basically a sun burn on your eyes.)

The Aspens where still covered with snow and you could clearly see the layering of dense snow on the bottom building up to light snow on the top. It creates this pyramid type shape on the branches, and you can tell by the sag that its very heavy. If you recall this is the snow from the 36 inch 'perfect storm' 48 hours before. Perfect because the method at which the temperature and density layed down the new snow starting warm (above freezing) and slowly cooling dow to create a good cohesive bond between the old temerature crust and the now dense, wet snow. Then it got really cold so all of the wet snow froze, creating a bomber bond, if you will. Using my best routefinding skills we chose the the low angle gully to the appex of the ridge before getting onto the steep snow (really I just followed the 1 day old skin track, but it sounds cooler if I say I did it). We were able to look into our planned ski area (East North East Aspect of Wilson) and kick some cornice onto the slope with little results. You could see some natural point releases in the new snow on the steeper more Easterly facing slopes, but nothing that was unexpected. The snow had settled out so the top 8 inches of rediculously low density snow had compacted to a higher (and I might say better) density from yesterday. Not measuring but I would guess it went from 3-4 to 4-5 percent on top and then gradually increased as you went down in the snow pack. At the top of Wilson after some excellent warm beverage, provided by my ski partner Dirk I put in two ski cuts at the top to try and release some wind pillows. They didn't go but I was able to send a new snow sluff down for a good 200 yards but it only took a small portion of the snow with it. After that it was up to Dirk to finish the stability testing and he did an excellent job by center punching it with many, many beatiful turns, as seen in the photos. Now you have to understand that Dirk has been nursing a wound for the last few weeks and hasn't been out skiing much this year but he complete this run with all smiles and concluded that it was a therapudic experience. Needless to say between yesterday and today I would say we are now hovering over the best snow of the season.... Anyone want to ski tomorrow?


  1. Jealous. That's all. Just Jealous. -Vogelsblogger

  2. Wow, great pics. You may be one of the only blogs I read where I'm learning new things. I heard the avalanche report on the radio yesterday and when it mentioned 'right side up' snow, I knew what that meant.

  3. Thanks, I must say 80% of the pics on my blog are taken by someone else with a very nice camera. But he is nice enough to share them with me. Its good to know that my blog can be somewhat useful to others.