3.27.2005

Happy Easter

The first week of spring wasn’t so spring-like. It’s funny, after a couple of weeks of sunshine and above average temperatures, the first week of spring was more like winter. The temperatures were in the teens overnight, with some scattered snow showers most of the week. This was great news, however, with four weeks of ski season left, to get a nice boost to our snow to tide us over. We probably had close to 20 inches over the course of the last seven days, but in town every time the sun comes out, it just melts it back down to the grass again. Friday we got about 4 inches on the slopes overnight, which made for some nice fresh tracks in the morning at Vail. I headed straight to the back bowls, and was able to get a few good runs in, though it tracked out pretty quickly. After that there were still some pockets around for those willing to ski the steeper runs. The best runs of the day were Skree Field and Rasputin’s Revenge, both of which are steep and scattered with cliff bands. It is possible to avoid the cliffs, but if you are willing to go over some of the smaller ones (say 3-5 feet), the best snow is under them seeing as most people won’t jump them. It snowed a good portion of the day on the slopes as well, sometimes the visibility became a little difficult, but there were pockets of sunshine as well. Saturday was the end to our week of our snowy pattern, and the forecast for Sunday was a warm and sunny spring day, well by mountain standards.

Easter Sunday greeted me with a bright sunny day, and with a couple of new inches of snow overnight, a few fresh tracks awaited. I still have a few days left on my Copper 4-pass, so I went over there to enjoy the beautiful spring day. Even though it was Easter, there were no bunny slopes for me today, as it was off to the bowls for some nice steeps. First I took a nice warm up run down over 2000 vertical feet of fresh snow on top of a groomed slope. It’s great when they groom the runs the night before and then they get fresh snow overnight. As the sun warmed things up, the conditions on some of the steeper runs turned to a nice spring snow, which was almost like skiing on mashed potatoes. I spent some time in Spaulding Bowl, and then headed over to the backside of Union Peak. The runs over there were great; the top section was steep, labeled “Experts Only”, guarded by a nice cornice of snow, and requiring about a 10 minute hike along the ridge. It was just enough to scare most of the people away, but was exactly what I wanted. The initial cornice drop is about 4-6 feet depending on where along the ridge you drop in. The first several turns were then steep enough to require more of a jump turn than an actual carve to help better control your speed. Below that it mellowed out to more of a single black diamond pitch as it threaded through some rock outcroppings and was just perfect for carving some nice wide turns. From below, the entire west ridge just looks spectacular: expansive, rugged and steep. It’s also well above treeline at over 12,000 feet so all you see is snow and the dark blue sky above. The sky here is just amazing, closer to the ground it’s a lighter shade, but the ridges block it out so that all you see is this deep, dark shade contrasting the bright, white snow. I’ll definitely have to get back again while I still have the 4-pass to use up, this time with my camera!
I hope you all had a great Easter as well, hard to believe it’s almost April! PS- Happy Birthday to my sister tomorrow!