Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yodelin - 01.29.10

Dan asked if I wanted to go out because they were forcing him to take the day off on Friday. He was leaving for Colorado on Saturday and I suspect he was hoping to get in some January turns.

It hadn't snowed all week so expectations were low. We decided on Yodelin as the trees would protect it from a sun crust, and temps were below freezing all week hopefully maintaining the snow that fell on Monday. The night before we decided if the snow was bad we would return home after one run.

Driving up to Steven's Pass we got a good first hand view of the lack of low snow. Surprisingly the ice on the side of the highway didn't look all bad near the pass. A few miles after and we were parking. The car's outside temp gauge read 33°F. We geared up and headed off. The skin in is on an old road that switchbacks through the old ski area. There was a faint skin track from Sunday or Monday, so we followed it. Dan and I constantly poked our poles in the snow outside the disturbed area and we were liking what we found. Soft powdery snow on top. We wound up a little farther west than the area Dan usually goes to and we made a traverse to a saddle and then up a ridge into the trees to where we started our first run.

The run started out with tightly spaced large trees and a few smaller (just sticking out of the ground) ones interspersed. Dan sailed away and I was left making one or two turns before stopping and figuring out my next move. It was slow going early on and then the trees cleared out a bit and we got moving. The snow was very good and we opted to go again, so at the end of our ~800' run, we skinned back up to the ridge.

This time I recommended a path farther skier's right as it appeared more open. We passed our previous drop in and continued a few moments east to where there was a nice opening to start. We entered the woods just after the small clearing and had a fantastic run! Really good snow and good turns through big trees. Once at the bottom we discussed what to do next. We both decided to give it another go although we were both tiring of the skin back up.

On the way back up Dan noted that the weather was great too, except for lack of sun. I told him the sun would cause a crust, and we couldn't have better conditions. I lagged behind Dan on the way up really feeling the soreness of climbing and yard work the previous day. I got to our transition and quickly changed over. We rode down again, but this run was not as good for me. The tiredness affected my ski ability and it seemed that the snow quality was deteriorating. (It felt like after a cold morning, the temps were indeed rising.) It had started to snow lightly when we started our second run.

After a few crashes on the way down including a heinous face plant that Dan got to witness, we transitioned to skinning and traversed west to get out. We initially considered heading up slightly to get a better run out, but we were both tired and tried to make a traverse work. After a entering the woods, we decided we could probably go for it and transitioned back into downhill mode. This was after I dug myself out of a hole I fell in trying to ski between two small trees with my skins on. The snow was getting wetter and stickier as we were lower and we rode out to a clearing where there was an old lift house. Dan opted to take his board off and hike up a small knoll while I trudged through the meadow to the other side. Once there, we hit our trail up and had enough angle to successfully use gravity.

The way out was tricky as the "road" was narrow and the snow very uneven. I tried multiple techniques of snowplowing, multiple hard turns, or skiing into the slope to maintain a good speed. At one point I fell and then picked up and skied out to Dan waiting at the car.

We got out before the rain arrived. (I'm not sure if it did arrive actually.) The turns were great and it was fun to explore a new area to me. I really needed a day in the backcountry after I found lift serve to be lacking.

My pics are here.

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