The car thermometer read -9 degrees at the end of Breezy Point Road.
I originally intended to go up the Avalanche Brook Trail but the lot wasn’t plowed. So, it was off to the carriage road. I expected to find beautiful, untouched powder from and I was ready to break trail all the way to the summit. But it turns out the carriage road had gotten a lot of skier traffic during the previous day’s storm. The wind had then gotten to what the skiers hadn’t scraped away.
The Skin Up
But I was there. And it had taken 2.5 hours to drive there on messy winter roads. So I was going to do some skiing, no matter how bad it sucked. I started off wearing light gloves and a running jacket to block some of the wind. After only a few minutes it became very clear that my normal tactic of starting cold and warming up later in the skin wasn’t going to work. On came my Atom LT jacket and a balaclava to protect my face from the cold wind.
I made good time getting up the trail. The previous day’s skiers had left a firm track and I only needed to break trail through the occasional patch of wind drift. Eventually, it started to get really cold. My balaclava was turning to ice from my breath and my phone, despite being in my pocket to keep it warm, was also turning into an ice cube. It had a nice layer of frost surrounding it. So much for taking pictures…
As I started getting higher on the trail the snow started to get especially wind affected and really terrible. My hands got so cold that I put on my down over-mitts to keep them from freezing, something I’ve never had to do while skinning.
At about 4000’ elevation I called it quits. My frozen balaclava was no longer protecting my face and I was worried about getting frost bite. My skins peeled off easily because the glue was frozen. My goggles came on and immediately froze up. I was only able to get about 200 feet of skiing before I had to pull them off.
The skiing wasn’t great. The firm snow in the center of the chute made it difficult to scrub speed and the soft, grabby snow on the edges made it hard to maneuver. But at least I was skiing and it got warmer and less windy the farther I went down. I was lucky I didn’t encounter any body skinning up on my way down. Much of the trail had turned into a luge run without much room to stop.
Finally, I got down to the flats near the bottom and I alternated between skinning and double poling on bare skis. Either the snow was super grabby or I didn’t have the right wax for gliding on it. It was a real struggle to maintain speed in the flats.
When I got back to the car there was a large group getting ready to skin up. I let them know it was cold out in case they didn’t realize it and then I hopped into the car. After driving down the road with the heat blasting my toes started to hurt. They had gone numb in my tight boots and I didn’t even realize it.
While conditions weren’t great, I had least gotten out of the house and gone skiing.