Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steven's Pass Ski - 11.10.09

First ski of the season. (Or about four months, ten days since my last ski.) I couldn't get a mid-week partner, but figured it would be safe enough to poach at Steven's Pass. The ski area is planning on opening on Friday, and I had seen a few trip reports reporting an adequate snow pack. The trip reports I saw for Hyak didn't appear as promising.

I left Seattle casually after 8am figuring that would give the DOT some time to clear the road. By the time I got to the pass, it was sunny and there was a bit of slush on the road, so nothing to worry about.

The scene when I arrived

I geared up in the parking lot where there were already 30+ cars! I guess many others had the same idea. I hiked up the stairs and walked in the snow a bit before putting my skis on. The snow was already fairly tracked out from previous days. (Probably Sunday.) So I went in search of fresh tracks by skinning under the Skyline Chair and eventually reaching the top of the Brooks Chair in a half hour or so. I transitioned at the top of the chair. Four months is plenty of time to get a little rusty transitioning. I then turned the skis downhill to go nowhere. The lower angle and deep unconsolidated snow was sticky. (Those factors combined with a need for a wax.) I worked my way to a slightly steeper section and mostly headed straight downhill without turning. It was the only way to keep up speed. Then I jumped back on a cat track for a bit before trying some other slope near the bottom. While I didn't fall, things were not smooth, and I wouldn't exactly say I enjoyed the run. So I decided to try something different on the next lap.

The next lap had me skinning to near the top of the Hogsback Lift. Once near the top, I decided to turn around and head down before getting into terrain I didn't want to be in. On the way up and from where I transitioned, I could see plenty of rocky areas that did not have good coverage, and I wanted to avoid those. So I ended up riding a cat track almost all the way down from my transition with a slight excursion into the powder near the bottom. Once again, the deeper untracked snow proved slow and unenjoyable. The time was now 12:30pm. I wanted to get one more run in that I really could enjoy. So I transitioned to skinning and headed up.


This time I headed up near the Big Chief Chair, skinning up the Showcase run. It was fairly tracked from early in the day as well as days earlier. (There were about 25 teenage boys with snowboards running up the slope to catch turns. They were also building kickers near the bottom of the slope.) I went up the slope for almost 30 minutes and decided to turn around at a flatter section of slope so I would not have to attempt to ski down this slower low angle area. During my transition I was joined by one of the teenage snowboarders. We had a chat about whether the ski area could kick us out or not and then he took his ride down. I followed shortly afterward on what was my favorite run of the day! Unfortunately, I was looking to get home and get my skis to the shop for a wax as I hope to get out later this week. So I headed to the car after ending on a high note.

Closing shot

Overall, I enjoyed my day out. The weather was mostly sunny, and fairly warm. (High was supposed to be 33°) I skinned in a light base layer and shell pants. I put on a shell jacket for the descents. It was nice to get back into the motion of skinning/skiing as well as working on my transitions without having others to wait for me. I tried out my new ski helmet which seemed to work as advertised and will be anticipating bringing it on other trips in the future.

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