Bigger Days

With the backcountry filling in well it’s time to start getting in some more vertical each day I’m able to get out. I’ve now knocked out 76,000 feet of uphill on my skis this season; well on my way to my goal of 100,000 feet.

While my goal of hitting 100k is not only in reach, but ready to be surpassed, my secondary goal of putting in bigger days in the backcountry linking up multiple ravines is on my mind. Time to put int he work to get ready.

Hillman’s Highway from HoJo’s

Hillman’s Highway from HoJo’s

Last week on my ski day the north country got a healthy dump of snow. Gulf of Slides Trail was filled with 6 inches of nice pow by the time I started descending. So of course I headed up the Sherburne for a lap. 4k of vertical over 2.5 hours wasn’t enough for the day so I drove down to Maple Villa.

I passed several parties on the way up, did a quick lap down one of the intermediate runs then went back to the top. The last run took me back out to the car. 6,500 feet of total vert for the day left my legs pretty tired but set me up well for the next week.

I got a late start heading north and didn’t get up to Pinkham until after 9 am. But I headed up to the Bowl and followed some skier bros up Lobster Claw. After doing a few unscientific stability tests I decided to bail part way up; being solo made me cautious. The skier bros continued up and as far as I know didn’t die. Turning around is often the difficult decision to make.

I skied out through little headwall and found some great snow at the top of the steep part. But this phenomenal snow was really unstable. If the slope slid I would have been swept into an open hole in the river and that would have sucked.

I headed over towards the Lower Snowfields and shwacked through the shrubs until I was able to exit out on the lower part of the river. I didn’t want to get too far into the snowfields because they had slid the day before.

I then went a third of the way up Hillman’s Highway. There was perfect wind slab on this section that held an edge really nicely. After getting down I went most of the way back up until the wind became strong enough that I was worried about being blown over. The upper part was brutally hard wind slab that didn’t want to hold an edge. The center third was funky sastrugi that took quite a lot of thought and effort to get through.

I took the Sherburne down to the car, grabbed my race skis and went back up for another lap on the Sherburne. 6,700 feet of vertical for the day.

After this long day, which included a decent amount of booting, my legs were feeling pretty good. I could have done another lap on the Sherburne without too many complaints but needed to get home.

I’m looking forward to getting some longer days in. Hopefully I’ll have a partner that wants to get into Huntington Ravine soon. There’s a lot gullies in there I want to ski.