12.06.2006

Expanding Terrain

Ski conditions improved a lot from our recent snows, and as a result there were even more terrain openings last weekend. First Saturday was the first day of the season for parts of the Back Bowls which meant they were completely un-tracked, at least for the first run. I managed to get to the mountain early enough be in line for the chair lifts when they started running. In fact the lift that took me to the top of Sundown Bowl opens at 9am and I managed to be on the 5th chair! That meant I had my pickings in the bowl, but rather than turn down the first face I traversed out a little farther to "Never" where I had the entire face to myself and put down the first tracks of the season. It was knee deep and wonderful! I managed to get to the lift line before the masses and barely had any wait. I decided to take another run back there, and again got fresh tracks, this time down the trees of "Yonder". The lift line was growing and it took a half hour to wait the second time, but no matter; I got my 2 first tracks for the season and was pretty happy. I decided at that point to head to the front side and explore the area around Northwoods and Highline where the crowds were light and a few more runs were open than the weekend before. I even found some first tracks in the trees below Prima Cornice's rocky face. It was a fun day, but it was also very cold. The lows overnight last weekend were around -10 up here, and the highs barely hit 15 in the valley, so at the top of the resorts I'm sure it was more like 5. I left by 2pm and had lunch in West Vail before warming my toes at home.

Sunday I decided to hold off and ski later in the morning to wait for it to warm up a little. This time I went to Beaver Creek where the Rose Bowl had opened earlier in the week. While not fresh tracks, they were the first turns I got in that area all season and it was a lot of fun re-familiarizing myself with the soft moguls of Ripsaw. This run almost never gets sun and rarely ices up so you can get soft bumps even days after a storm! They were also racing the World Cup this weekend, American Bode Miller won the Downhill on Friday, but no other American's claimed gold over the weekend. I was going to head down and watch the slalom races on Sunday, but with the cold it felt better to be moving than standing around watching, so I passed this year. I have seen the slalom the last two years, its really the downhill I want to see but its always on Friday when I have to work. It looks like it would be really exciting to watch because they hit speeds of at least 60mph and some of the rollers in the terrain send them airborne for distances in excess of 100 feet, despite that they are rarely more than 10 feet above the ground! That's some serious speed they are carrying, with nothing but their race suit to protect them if they fall. I'll stick to the bumps and powder, I don't think I want to launch myself down the hill quite that fast!

More terrain has been opening this week, Vail and Beaver Creek are both close to 60% open and with more terrain expected to open for this weekend. All we need now is another 2 foot storm and we will be up to our knees skiing once again!