Sunday, April 4, 2010

Heather Ridge - 04.04.10

After a mix up that left me home on Saturday, Steve invited me out for Sunday. He and his brother-in-law Tom had to be back for an Easter dinner, so the planned trip couldn't consume too much time. The decision was made to go to Heather Ridge and get in a run and then head home.

During the ride out I warned of my lack of backcountry skiing this winter and hoped I wouldn't slow the group down. Once out of the car, we geared up in the decidedly brisk weather and started to head up the road. The skin up was largely uneventful except for a moment where I lost the valve to my Camelbak. We were getting a later start, and there was already a highway of a skin track in. In what seemed like no time we were up at the lake and heading toward the ridge. We experienced some high winds on the way up, but they were mostly not present skinning near the lake.

Then we started to go up the ridge. The wind got worse, and we did some conservative movements to mitigate avalanche danger in the steeper open slopes. Once near the top of the ridge, we crossed over to the other side where we made a scary traverse on a slope that Steve measured at 54°. Once on the slope, it wasn't that bad as the angle reduced greatly after a short distance. While I didn't want to test my skills, I felt confident that I could probably ski out of an issue during the traverse. Once across the traverse we headed up again and then dropped back to the other side before gaining the ridge top and our descent location.

Fresh snow laid below us as we transitioned and took turns skiing once again to mitigate avalanche danger. (There were signs of avalanche danger, but our testing showed the slopes to be stable enough.) I took a more mellow line while Steve and Tom took a more aggressive line in the trees. We then all met up with a skin track heading back to the ridge where we transitioned and ate before heading back up to the saddle.

Over the saddle we skied with skins on down to the lake and then skinned across before removing our skins for the final trip out. The snow on this side was more wind blown and we went from tree skiing to taking the luge run (uphill skin track) out. Toward the bottom the track got fast and I accidentally managed to ski backward for a bit when I was trying to slow down. This resulted in my first ever backward ski and snow plow. Once I had the fronts of the skis pointed back downhill, it was a straightforward ski out from there.

It was nice that winter finally arrived here in April. This was definitely some of the best skiing I had done this winter. (Conditions, not my abilities.) It was great to get out, and I hope to get out again soon.

My pics are here.

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