Based on thursday’s reports, I was anticipating bad to poor conditions. Hoping for some overnight snow that would entice me to go, I loaded the car thinking “I’ve already packed and loaded, so I should go” would be hanging over my head. I also put on my ski underwear before checking the weather, as “I’m already dressed” would add more to the commitment checklist. As did getting a cup of coffee and starting breakfast. Good thing, as the weather looked terrible at the 5:35 check. Frozen, windy, and no new snow over yesterday’s terrible reviews. Expecting the worst, I jumped in the Turboru to meet my 7:30 carpool rendezvous in The Claw. No way I was going to do this alone - sharing the pain was checked off my commitment list.
Windhold on the Gondy - they didn’t even have the buckets on the cable - was not a good sign when I plopped my skis in the rack. Quick, get dressed and booted so you’ll have to at least get on the chair. My plan was to last till 10:00 or 10,000 vertical. Whichever came first. Rex was running very slow due to wind. The top was no-see-um foggy. The ridge-top wind was face numbing. Feeling my way to, and down, Luckyshot woulda been pretty good (pretty poor on most days) if I coulda seen. Or felt my wind-scoured nose. This is where my amazing bunch of Amigos comes in.
Not wanting to be the wimp, I said, “That wasn’t bad”. And we foraged on. On into white-out screaming wind getting off the top - icy groomers lower. I tried a few pokes onto the off-piste and was rewarded with barely skiable smoothish wind blown ice with wind packed new behind the trees. Then the bad ideas started being proposed. I think they were suggested as a way to seal the leave-early deal (that was my plan, anyway), but….. Some areas that were nice alternated with holy shit hang on. There was just enough of the nice to cancel out the holy shits that it made it a zero sum game. And so it went for a few hours. Float some windblown new, 4-8”, over smooth ice for a few turns, tighten the sphincter for some icy chicken head dodging.
I was quite cold with the wind, fog, and lack of hard, heat-generating skiing. CD suggested a lodge break. I was in. I go into the Campbell Basin Lodge about 1 time per year. Usually due to bad weather and/or bad snow. Today had both. After a quick bathroom break, I took a look at the food lineup. There were 2 kinds of soup. Very expensive and some at half the price in 16oz cans, on ice. Oddly, the cheaper soup left me feeling refreshed and ready to ski. Back out, Cisco was a hoot of a run that led to an afternoon (short afternoon) of bad decision runs that turned out to be just over the 50% good criteria to make me forget the pain and take another. Door Zero, Bear Pits, Luckyshot Trees…. The tops were windblown ice or icy boulders of avie debris. The middles were frozen lumpy chicken heads covered in wind deposited crust. Lower it was back to trust-your-groomer smooth that alternated piles of skidded new with skidded ice (I know where the piles came from). And, lasting 3 hours past my failsafe point, it was time for this one to ski Stumpfarm home.
It wasn’t a good day. It was a horrible day made OK. Five inches of rain with a couple inches of new…. Luckily the face-blasting wind moved enough of the snow to change the conditions to glare ice or boot top new. The smooth ice was a challenge, accepted; the new was fun. Frozen avie debris and mid-mountain chickens heads, alone with the fog turning to goggle freezing crap drove us homeward as we’d skied off the pockets of new.
Lesson learned - Everything I’d heard, all the forecasts I’d read, said yesterday would be terrible (it was, avoided), and today would be marginal at best. At my best, marginal became OK. And with a couple ski-Amigos to egg me on, OK was just what I needed this week.