Rats don’t run in their wheel because they think it’s fun. They do it because that’s all that’s available in their cage. We were caged in by horrible frozen junk off-piste and hard icy groomers in every direction. After some quick poking around we found all the groomers: Iceberg, Luckyshot, Downhill, were hard ice covered in acres of ice balls. Ice so hard, the groomers didn’t even leave a mark on Iceberg (Not So Lucky Shot wasn’t groomed). It only took one ski length off the groomed to cross off any hope of skiing off piste.
Full on sun and blue sky on our first upload gave, falsely, promise of maybe some Frontside softening we could beat into skiable submission. Not to happen, however, as a high haze and an unfortunate cloud blocked the sun and put us in no-softening mode. Our first lucky run call was a very IcyBerg to Lower Bull Run. Lower Bull was one of only two runs that softened. A couple low level runs down Bull got the ski ball rolling (that doesn’t even make sense…. ) and oddly, the next-door ungroomed Deerfly was horrible crunch. Then we decided to get on the wheel in the corner of our rat cage as it’s proven to be a good spin when the conditions are dicey.
We dove into Snorting Elk Bowl, it had been groomed, and the part that everyone wasn’t skiing, was 2” of softness for our carving pleasure over the firm base. Sluiceway was the skidded ice we left on thursday, but skiable. Berry Patch had the one line we’d smoothed out before - and one was all we needed. Lower E was the second of today’s Soft-Run awards. Huge nicely shaped bumps soft enough to go full on old-school bump skiing. Fun enough that we exited the rat wheel and rode up for another.
At noon, we grabbed our packs and were ready to head for home, as it was obvious that nothing was going to get softer. That did the trick and the sun came back out. Berry Patch was just soft enough to get us off the one line we’d been skiing, and Lower E went off. We re-stashed the packs and kept going. They added a bunch of slalom gates, maybe people frozen in place scared of the ice, on S-Elk Bowl. Sluiceway softened enough to get into the bumps and off the ice-line. Berry Patch loosened just enough to match Amigoette’s fast line without jittering my back to complaining. Lower E became more of a hoot. An hour and a half later, after our 13th Top-to-Bottom, we called it good and stepped off the rat wheel and exited the cage. What had started as mundane T2B cycles ended with two wide smiles. More people need to learn how to ski bumps, big bumps.
Bad news. No dry warm weather for…… awhile. The cool down will not be pleasant for the next couple days, maybe a week. There might be a few inches of new snow by monday, but feet are needed to cover the frozen junk. There’s a lot of NWS “models disagree” going on so it’s a day-to-day check in. Only sunny and warm will work.