Blue Skies and White Mountains

Our succession of snow storms took a break, but when all was said and done the mountains had close to 60 inches total since Thanksgiving. Its been great for terrain openings of course, but it was nice to have a sunny weekend too. Saturday I headed to Beaver Creek and got my first turns of the year on Grouse Mtn and Larkspur Bowl, both of which opened during the previous week thanks to our storms. There were virtually no crowds and I was able to get a lot of runs in. I even ran into my friends Beau and Sadie who live in Denver and were up for the day. We got a few runs in together before they had to drive back to the city. I also got to take a run down the Royal Elk Glades, somehow I went all of last year without finding this run. Its really a great run tough, it is through the trees but opens up nicely lower down. It has a real backcountry feel, similar to Blue Sky Basin in Vail, and you cannot see any lifts, buildings, or other sign of civilization from it. There were even a few opportunities for fresh tracks as it hadn't been skied that much since the storms earlier in the week. I also got some runs in at Larkspur Bowl which has a new chairlift this year. The old lift was an 11 1/2 minute ride, and with no foot rest my feet would often fall asleep by the time it was done! The new chair is a much more comfortable, and quicker (about 6 minutes) ride that is a welcome change for sure!

Sunday I met up with Wells and Chris over at Keystone, we took it easy at first with a few groomers on nice fresh courderoy, but had our eyes on the bowls from one of the lifts. We decided to make the hike up the ridge to where we cound find some fresh tracks way out in Goalpost Gully. The hike wasn't bad, close to 45 minutes, but the conditions were good for it. It was warm, not windy, and the snow was not that deep on the ridge so the walking wasn't too difficult. When we got to our run of choice it was a little thin and windblown at the top, but it quickly became a nice untracked slope and we got several fresh turns in before getting back to treeline. Here things got more interesting as deep snow, a creek basin, and tight trees made for slow going and careful route finding. I'd like to say it worked out perfectly, but unfortunately the creek bed kept causing us to briefly get stuck and have to climb back out. After the hike and fighting with the creek we decided we would call it a day, it was already lunch time so we stopped for a few slices of pizza in the village and then headed home. All together the weekend turned out to be a great one for skiing, and conditions for early December continue to be amazing. Hopefully we will get a few reinforcing flakes for this weekend (it snowed a bit today) and then soon it will be off to the midwest for Christmas. See you all soon...