What a spectacular morning. After driving up in heavy snowfall for 20 miles, it was quite a surprise to see a "bright fog" spot over Crystal. By 8:00 the entire mountain was showing off its new coat of brilliant white snow under clear blue skies. Knowing that the mountain would open slowly (confirmed by nearly continuous explosions as ski patrol blew up all the nooks and crannies) we still got in line early. After 2 days of mountaintop closure, there were a lot of pent up powder skiers flowing into the line – behind us, luckily. After a 45-minute wait for Chinook to open and then a 15-minute wait at Rex, we were on our way.
You could feel the tension in the crowd as we waited at Rex, craning our necks, seeing nothing but untracked goodness. The tension released like a rubber band as skiers flowed off the top onto the Frontside. Sunnyside, nothing but untracked and effortless top to bottom. Door 4 and Luckyshot Trees, the same. That's all the time it took to track the Frontside (Rex was the only chair open), so cut-seconds on Memorial and a Door 4 repeat were round two. Watching for Chair 6 to get the green light, we paired up with 2 people for another ride up Rex. Three rows from loading, the Six light went green. Two seconds later, our chair partners were under the rope and off, Amigoette and I half a second behind.
Everyone we met today was diggin' life. Even the 8-minute line as we waited at Chair 6 was full of friendly, pumped skiers. Except for "Bob", who cut in line at the front as his buddy (who was paired with someone already) said single. Bob then yelled single and got one from the back of the line. What a dick. Forgot about Bob as we rode up to more neck-craning untracked whiteness. The line at Six was growing, but we couldn't resist marking Chute .5's smoothness with our tracks. Wow! The next 13 minutes in line, not so wow. Not wanting to wait in line again, we scoped Powder Bowl. Tracks and minor slides filled the Bowl, so we slid down to Upper K2. We pulled off some good timing today, but Upper K2 was the perfect call at the right time. Smooth, sunny, untracked, and one of my favorite lines on the hill. Amigoette agreed as we traversed into Bear Pits for more pow.
We'd gotten a tweet from ski patrol as we rode up Six that Northway would open in 15 minutes. Thinking our perfect timing would continue, we did a touch and go with some other Amigos and headed north. 40 minutes after the tweet, and with no sign of opening, the crowd was now big enough to make a huge line at NW. We bailed to boot up to Grubstake Peak as we'd been watching Elk Chutes while waiting for NW. Off the top, the chute we call Ugga Bugga supplied some steep-and-narrow we'd been missing from our diet lately. A shot of adrenaline. Our bail on Northway worked, it was now open, but we cruised back to no-lines of Rex and C-6.
By now, the warming temps and blazing sun had turned the sunny aspects to heavy and thick. Bear Pits was nice on the top ⅔ and nasty below. Powder Bowl remained the one soft and light holdout. Skiing some bumped-up lines on Luckyshot, Grubstake, and Iceberg brought the day to an end. One of the lower vert days of the year – with some of the best lines.
The snow was baking in the sun and packing hard in places. Extreme north facers will still hold some light snow, but spring sun is hard to escape. Temperatures will cool and some light snow will fall tonight and saturday. I assign the saturday crowd to mix up the firming thick snow with a little new, and I'll be up sunday. Cool temps and off-and-on snow into early next week.