Keith asked me if I wanted to ski on Monday. Over the past week we had 50+ degree temperatures, a little rain and then arctic cold and monster winds to finish everything off. So, conditions were primo for skiing in the backcountry. Right…
I got picked up by Keith and Brendan and we made the trek from North Conway to the Baldface parking lot. We had never been to this zone that was gladed by the Granite Backcountry Alliance. We were surprised by how long it took us to skin up there; It’s a lot of skinning to get up the summit. The first mile or so is mostly flat with several stream crossings that were frozen over. The high winds of the past couple days blew down an enormous amount of spruce boughs that liked to drag on our skins and slow us down.
Keith managed to catch the tip of his fancy Black Crows ski poles on a tree and walked into the handle at full force. After it jabbed him in the abdomen he fell to the ground and he didn’t get back up for several minutes. I thought the day might be over but he got back up and kept trucking. Brendan and I half-jokingly reminded him to let us know if he experienced any internal bleeding or if an intestine fell out. He smashed himself pretty good.
It took a couple hours to get up to the top of Baldface Knob. Ski crampons were essentially for navigating the upper icy stretches of the trail. We took a look around at the top and decided on a spot to ski down. We encountered solid rain crust that was mostly supportive. Supportive, that is, until we made a turn. Then that crust came out and grabbed our ski tails and made things plenty exciting.
We ended up having to traverse far to skier’s right across the slabs to rejoin the main glade area. I don’t think the GBA has gotten around to clearing this upper section yet. We spent a lot of time fighting our way through trees and shrubs.
Once we made it to the main glade run the skiing was icy but fun. So long as we stayed on the tracked out path we could actually turn and didn’t break through any crust. I was surprised at how many uphill sections needed to be navigated through here. It was kind of a bummer.
We eventually made it down to the bottom of the glade and rejoined the hiking trail for the way out. A second lap was out of the question. The conditions just weren’t there.
It took quite a bit of double poling and stream hoping to get back to the car but the icy conditions helped speed us along.
The conditions made things a little too “exciting” but it was still nice to ski and check out a new zone. With some more glade work and better snow, Baldface Knob could be a really fun destination away from the crowds.