Archive for October, 2012

Land Mines be Disguised as Nice Fresh Lines.

Posted: October 8, 2012 by bcbuzzards in Skiing

First turns of the 2012/13 season!

Spring and Fall are unreliable times here in the Rockies. Montana has this in spades. This last Friday I was lamenting the curse of the fall shoulder season, that period of time where it is all but impossible to enjoy a mountain bike ride, and defiantly impossible to break out my skis. May and June are so much easier of a shoulder season for me. There is always snow on the ground somewhere, so while the trails dry out in the high country, I just keep skiing my brains out. So Friday after fumbling my way through another session at the climbing gym I sat down to peruse the local SNOTELS, just out of general curiosity.

VW Passat snow plow edition. Not stuck, parked!

VW Passat snow plow edition. Not stuck, parked!

Friday, October 5th, at 6:00 P.M., the Cole Creek SNOTEL at Red Lodge Mountain Resort was recording 12″, with http://www.weather.gov calling for 100% chance of 4″ more overnight. My fate was sealed. I dragged out the fabled rock skis of legendary dumps gone by, my faithful Karhu BC Storms, rounded up all my gear and headed to the hills to try and rack a few turns on some low-angled greens and blues. As I packed the car the words of another rider came to mind: “You don’t know if ya don’t go.” Icy roads into Red Lodge were a positive sign, as were the snow covered Beartooth Mountains, trees plastered white. I punched in the last part of the road to the gate for RLM with the VW getting over the hood, blower windshield shots the whole way up.

"Tele" setting the skin track under the half moon.

“Tele” setting the skin track under the half moon.

I had some company on the 1st lap up, setting the ski track up “Lazy M”, my plans on skiing low-angle greens forgotten. I set 90% of that skin-track, which was fine by me as the only way to ensure the skin goes where it should is to set it yourself. The wandering 5% of that track was when I was following “Tele” a fellow skier’s dog as he broke trail, which was done with little complaint and much panting. As the hordes (4 other skiers) marched up, I dropped in. 14″ to 17″ is no small amount of snow, and I’d like to say it was bottomless, but it was in reality quite “bottom-full”. Every other turn I hit something. Rocks, stumps, logs, animal carcasses  I dunno I just know I heard a lot of noise. A group asked me on the way down “Are you hitting anything?” My answer was a resounding “YES!” They might have thought I was lying, the smile on my face was so broad. But the bottoms of my Karhus are already so thrashed, it’s hard to see where one season of horrible skiing ends, and one early session of rock skiing begins.  17″ on top of 0″ is a bit thin in spots. At the bottom of Lazy M given my choice between two black diamonds (The Face of M, and Little Tree) and a green (chicken trail) I choose the Face, and was not disappointed. Battered by rocks: yes, but disappointed: no.

Dropping into Little Tree, 3rd Lap

Still it was good enough for me and while the ascending hordes stripped their skins and slid back to Cole Creek (or the backside) of RLM, I stayed on Lazy M. Over Saturday and Sunday I skied Lazy M 7 times, the Face 3 times, and Little Tree 4 times. I saw tracks of one other rider on Lazy M and the Face. My season started with a bang, over 13,000 feet of self propelled vert in two days. My feet are banged up enough to prove it. I walked (skinned and skied) away from this weekend with 3 blisters. So I know the necessary callous are not in shape for big days yet. I think in hind-site the beginning of the season is always a period of re-adjustment. Lessons sometimes need to be re leaned. I could have worked my socks differently, which would have helped prevent the blisters. I usually start my season skinning with a light liner sock, and also my normal wool ski socks as well. By  the end of the season I can get away with just the wool sock. Also Saturday I planned on sticking to low angle greens mostly, so I didn’t bring a ton of food. On my 3rd lap up the 2200 ft skin track I knew this to be an error in judgement as well. In total neglect I failed to bring my base-ball cap Saturday, which resulted in my having to sweat it out with my knit cap, or roast my noggin in the sun (I choose sweat, as I actually brought as was drinking tons of water). Finally, for posterity if I would have thought I was going to be riding the terrain I was I would have brought the Go-Pro the 1st day instead of just Sunday.

Farming turns that would make Craig Gordon proud.

Farming turns that would make Craig Gordon proud.

Beyond the lessons learned, I had a great weekend. No new blown edges or deep core shots, just lots and lots of buttery sweet turns. Looking at the snow-falls from across the state it looks like Red Lodge came out well on top, Bridger and Big Sky both getting essentially skunked. My facebook feed shows people in Missoula on Mt. Jumbo in shorts and t-shirts. I might need to take a few days off from the climbing gym this week to let the blisters work themselves out but I’m fine by that. My 2012/13 season is off to a grand start. Here’s hoping yours starts up soon too!

One man’s damage.

From day to day just letting it ride.