100 - 2010-05-08 Bell Lake Yurt

If at first you don't succeed.
After being knocked back on Thursday, we took a rest day on Friday and re-grouped. Though now lacking Ryan, we got a more timely start on Saturday, the drive through to Potosi went smoothly. Past the campground things were a bit more precarious, nobody had driven it yet, but there were some ATV tracks and the snow was not quite as deep as it had been a couple days earlier, so I went for it. This was perhaps the drive of my life, the wheel was constantly in motion and the strength of the FJ and the the Cooper tires got us to the trailhead.

Now the trip could truely begin and under blue skies we organized our gear, tons lighter, but not light by any means, than a couple days before. Setting out, things went a lot smoother as the snow was a lot more consolidated, but as we gained elavation, it soon became another breaking trail in heavy new snow ordeal. However we had time and determination on our side.

And time is what it took, progress was slow, but it was a decent sunny day. The slog up the final hill is never easy, however it went much better than before. Got to the yurt, started a fire and relaxed with some snax and cold beverages. Finally gathered ourselves together and went for a short tour up to the lake to scope things out, wondering what we would see after all the heavy snow. We toured across lake under mixed clouds and gazed up at the slopes. We didn't notice anything that had slid since the storm, but it was getting late so we headed down the yurt. Got back around 7:30, can't do that in the middle of winter, and cooked up a proper dinner and relaxed into the wee hours with some cold beverages. Maybe too many cold beverages . . . 


099 - 2010-05-06 Bell Lake Yurt Fail!

Based on a great trip last year, we had picked our dates for the yurt in October for this weekend. This year we would have 3 nights and 4 days up at Bell Lake. Things didn't quite play out as we had planned. Wednesday started out clear, sunny and warm with a Winter Storm Warning in the forecast, but those things often don't pan out. This one did in a big way. Snow began in town that night and, after getting a bit of a late start, myself, Gibby, Jim and Ryan set off for the Tobacco Roots. Driving that way the snow started to get deeper, the opposite of what one would expect in the sagebrush area between Bozeman and Pony. After making the turn down S. Willow Creek in Pony, Gibby had to put chains on and I got the FJ stuck. After this delay, we proceeded down the deeply snow covered road. After making the turn onto the FS road a construction crew's adhoc plowing made the drive a little more manageable. However the construction folks only plowed as far as their site. At that point we hooked up with Gene the Forest Service guy who was putting chains on his Silverado to try to make back to the campground. This setup proved to be a virtual snowplow and we followed him in to the campground.

Now we ready to get down to business and head in to the yurt, albeit later and further away than we had planned on. We set out into at least 18" of nice heavy fresh snow at the campground. I was pulling a pulk (sled), a good way to transport a lot of gear. As we went on the trip quickly became breaking trail in the heavy wet snow. This didn't work out well with the pulk, as the skin track the others were setting was much narrower than the width of the pulk. The first uphill bit quickly became quite tedious and I was forced to use hip thrusts to get the sled to move forward at all. I soon realized that this wouldn't work and stopped to ditch the pulk and throw what I could into the pack. When I stopped I could finally look back and realized that the sled was doing a slow plow thing in the track, explaining my futility at dragging it.

After ditching the pulk I soon caught up to the others, feeling buoyant at being to move so quickly. Alas, this was mostly because I able to use the track set by the others. Once I joined them and we set out together, progress was limited by the pace of person in front who was breaking trail in deep heavy snow. And that progress was slow, after a couple hours we realized that making it in to the yurt on that day was a pipe dream. We dropped our packs and figured we could at least break trail for the next attempt. And the progess was still slow despite no packs and trading off breaking trail. At 5 we called it a day, almost reaching the normal trailhead. In all, we were making about 1/2 mile an hour and this is with a strong crew. The ski back down to the cars went a good bit quicker. Once there we consumed some cold beverages and discussed plans for the next attempt

Conditions - Deep heavy new snow.

Ski - K2 Anti-Piste 181


098 - 2010-05-02 Goose Ck

Not quite Mayday, but a cause for celebration. With guarded expectations after seeing some snow in town a couple days earlier vanish and lots of mush in Bear Canyon the day before. Gibby, Niko, Yatsuko and myself headed for Goose Ck hoping for the best and the best is pretty close to what we got. This was Yatsuko's first ever time out in the backcountry (I hate whats attached to term, but it has some currency) and the first time out on the board since her March injury. Skin up went well under almost constant snow. After a short time on top of the ridge we pointed them down for what turned out to be the best, and probably last, Goose Ck run of the year. Finally hit it right! Lower down proved to be a bit heavy, but who cares.

Conditions - Fresh snow from the night before over a solid base. New ranged from 2" down low to 6" near the top and the coverage was tons better than the week before. Dug a pit at the bottom of the open upper snow fields; new stuff was not bonded well, but it was not deep enough to raise a concern.

Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178 - Last time to try something out before the yurt trip. These are good, but not the uber-ski the Anti-Piste is.


097 - 2010-04-24 Goose Ck

Its close by, its not crowded and its kinda fun, so we hit Goose Ck again. As I got out of the car, I realized I had forgot my skins - oops. No prob I thought, there was a good freeze the night before, I'll just boot up. Went really well, until about 3/4 of the way up when I started post-holing to my crotch. This was not fun, I think I was crawling at one point. Nevertheless, I pushed on and finally made to the top. Of course we were a bit behind the curve and things were a bit heavy on the way down and I did make a couple craters in the snow.

Conditions - Freeze the night before was promising, but we hit it a tad too late and it was heavy on the way down. Parts of the way up before the open area on top were way sketch, with one take off the skis stretch and several close to that. Last time for Goose Ck this season, so we thought . . .

Ski - K2 Anti-Piste 181

096 - 2010-04-18 Goose Ck

Another round of Goose Ck with Gibby and Niko. Headed up under blue skies with a firm snowpack. It was just nice day, too nice; we spent over an hour taking things in on top. Things were starting to get heavy on the way down, but it was still good fun.

Conditions - There was a nice freeze the night before and by the time we were getting to the top it was perfect, just starting to soften up on the surface. Then with nice temps, clear skies and no wind, we sat up top too long. A bit heavy on the descent, though the coverage was decent.

Ski - K2 Anti-Piste 181 Coupled with Scarpa T1s, I think this setup is just too big and burly for moving quickly. A real shame since it skis so well on the way down.


095 - 2010-04-17 New World Gulch and points beyond

Went for a ski with Jim, who lives at the trailhead, and Niko. Was looking at getting some uphill in and then out for a quick day; Jim had other ideas. We skinned up the winter route to the big meadow and then Jim led beyond that. After going up a treed ridge, we began to approach an open basin and heard a loud crashing tumbling sound. We quickly popped out the trees,  where we could see the debris of several recent wet slides.

Fortunately we designs on skiing the open slopes below that were not quite as steep as the ones below the cliffs. However Niko ignored these considerations and once I let her off the leash, she made a beeline for all the debris and then started heading up a chute. At the bottom of a nice open run, we couldn't see her and only heard the rockfall she kicking loose, the same type of event that set off the wet slides. After a period of wondering if I'd ever see the pup alive again, not the first time I've been in this situation, she came bounding down the slope to us.

After that we negotiated a few open areas and then went into the trees pointing towards the trail. This is when it became teh suk and the rain began; tight in deep heavy wet snow with the wrong skis for it, being hooked up to Niko didn't help. Eventually we made back to the trail, the big meadow and the bobslead run down the creek bed. Finally made it back to Jim's place, where we had a couple cold beverages on his deck: in the rain. Still one of the better days of the season.

Conditions - Nice on the way up, then devolved into deep heavy wet snow for the way down in the rain

Ski - Karhu Dorado 195 - Worked real well on the way up with skinny skins. The way down was another story as they are not suited to tight turns in crap snow. The second time these skis have let me down.


094 - 2010-04-11 Goose Ck

A quick jaunt up the skin track. Turned around at the base of the upper snowfields because I was by myself and and thought the skiing would suck. I was wrong, the few turns I was able to catch were perfect spring conditions. Good run out to the car with Niko, who would reveal her predatory instincts later that day.
Conditions - Real solid going up, but I thought it would be breakable crust. Turned out to be solid, with that light softening on top that makes life worth living.
Ski - K2 Anti-Piste 181 + Scarpa T1 - First time touring on this rig, thought it was a bit slow. The conundrum is it better to sacrifice on the way up for performance on the way down: it depends.


093 - 2010-04-10 Big Sky - Pond Skim!

A big day each year and this one was no different. Got a bit later start than desired with Dunc, Mahala and Hayden. By the 11 or so we rolled into Big Sky, we discovered that a few others had the same idea. I'd never seen the place so packed, we had to park on a side road. After getting all set up at the base area around noon, we hooked up with Cody and Gibby and headed up towards the bowl. Had a good run down with Dunc and the kids, then they headed down to the base for food n stuff.

Seeing that the tram line was a bit long, we headed down to go back up to make our way over towards Shedhorn and then Dakota. Once over that way we traversed over to nice snow under some cliffs and made our way down. After that it was some headwall to the left of Sreaming Left and over to the Shedhorn Yurt for a much needed cold beverage.

After the long traverse back to the base area, met up with Yatsuko at Mr Hummers for eats and shotz while the others took another run. We were soon joined by Mai, Masumi, Gibby and Cody. We trekked over to a good vantage point for the Pond Skim, where we got a good view of all sort of skiers willing to immerse themselves in cold water and various crowd related mayhem. After all too briefly watching Craig and the Cropdusters, we headed over to Scissorbill's, where Dunc and the gang saved me from too much fun.

A few more pix here:


092 - 2010-04-04 Moonlight

What looked to be an inauspicious day turned out to be way cool. Getting a not so terribly early start, we started riding the the lifts to blue skies, and though the lower groomed runs didn't really give an indication, there was plenty of good snow up higher. Had great runs down Upper Headwaters Bowl, Obsidian, Upper Horsehoe Bowl and points inbetween. In the afternoon we stopped to take in the Spring Runoff, where inspired competitors took sick lines down the Heaadwaters area for points and glory. There were some classic lines; Merrick, who has patrolled there since Moonlight opened said, "Wow I've never seen somebody ski that before". There were also some classic wrecks, though nobody got hurt. Finished things off with eats and cold beverages at Wokee.
Conditions - Bluebird and fresh snow up high, could ask for anything more?
Ski - K2 Anti-Piste 181 - The skis make the man!


091 - 2010-04-03 Chief Joseph Pass

Second day at the Gordon Reese cabin/hut and the ski trails at Chief Joseph Pass ski trails. Woke up to 6" of freshies and eventually made our way out. Upon leaving the cabin the fresh snow started to cake up on my skis. I followed the gang out to the top of the open meadows and was about to bail due to snow sticking to the skis. This is where Chris saved the day, coming back up the hill with a can of Easy-Glide and that did the trick, no problems after that. After a run down, we went around and through a bunch of the trails. Yet again 5 Hour Energy powered Gibby led the way. Made our way back the cabin for some eats before we had to clear out for the next crew. Ski out was a bit tedious with 2 packs on.
Conditions - 6 or so of fresh made for some nice skiing. Temps were a bit chilly for April
Ski - Karhu Dorado 195


090 - 2010-04-02 Chief Joseph Pass

Duncan scored a night in the Gordon Reese hut which is in the middle of a pile cross country trails at Chief Joseph Pass and a mile or so from Lost Trail Pass. This place is the Taj MaHut of Forest Service cabins. Only a few years old, the hut is very well built, spacious and has a full kitchen. Myself, Dunc, Gibby and Chris arrived to the parking lot in mid afternoon and skied the half mile in with packs and a pulk loaded with full supplies. Then it started dumping. Was able to get in a couple runs in the open meadows near the cabin, low angle but good fun. Then settled into a full dinner and further festivities.
Conditions - This is a cross country ski area with groomed trails, but due to being late in the season they had not been fully groomed in a while. However it was still pretty good. Off trail was supportable and soon covered in fresh fluffy goodness.
Ski - Karhu Dorado 195 - Brought a few other pairs of skis, but these got the call because they rock! And real good with a heavy pack on.


089 - 2010-03-27 Moonlight

A landmark day! Everything came together for perhaps the best ski day of the season. Snow, skis and maybe my own attitude converged to one point of goodness. Best run eva down upper Headwaters Bowl from the traverse, warp speed arcs in the bowl off to the side of the Headwaters Lift and all points in between. Satiated, I quit early and sat out in the sun at the Madison Lodge with a pitcher of beer.
Conditions - There was a good bit of snow the day before and the upper off piste areas still held niceness. And there was not a single cloud in the sky!
Ski - K2 Anti Piste 181 - The fat kinda rockered boards had sat in the corner forgotten and forlorn all winter after I tweaked my leg on them in the first week at Big Sky. OMFG, I have found my one true love! Could do no wrong and when it seemed like I would, I was able to bring it back.


088 - 2010-03-22 Targhee

For the last day of the WY trip  we hit Targhee on a mostly snowy day. Things varied between almost icy from the previous few days to nice bits of fluff, with most of it inbetween. Driving icy pellets on the face finally pushed us inside, where Yatsuko had been saving a table for a late lunch, followed by the drive back to Bozeman.
Conditions - Mixed
Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178


087 - 2010-03-21 Shadow Mtn

It had been all too long since I'd been in Jackson Hole proper and Gibby and John had never been there. With weather gods delivering in spades, his had the makings of a great day and we had the place to ourself. Shadow Mtn is on the east side of the hole and the trail, actually an old 2 track, starts out mostly flat and then winds back into the woods and hills that eventually become the Gros Ventre. After 3.5 and 1500 of vert you find yourself on a mellow ridgetop looking across to the most magnificent range on the continent.

Hung out there for a while, enjoying the view, fine beverages and some eats. Run back down was great, mostly avoiding the up track and making some mellow turns through open glades. Ended up popping out of the hills between 2 McMansions - oops! Highlight of the day was Gibby being in the zone and leaving us in his dust - another win for 5 Hour Energy! Got back to town too late to take in the pond skim at Snow King. Finished the day at Nikai; a little trendy, a little impressed with itself, but not too bad.

Conditions - Total bluebird windless day, it just doesn't get any better! Snow was sled made death cookies on the trail for the first halt and then started to get a bit moew pliable. Was able to get a bit of crust skating off the trail while still on the flats, but the Karhu's suk for skating. Way back down was soft spring fun.

Ski - Karhu Dorado 195 Worked well for the first bit, then let John use them because they have better grip, though they still are teh suk for skating.
Rossi TMS 205 - These were the bomb back in the day, but that was a long time ago. However they ain't too bad and they just don't make double cambered tele skis these day, but they were the ticket for this trip. Waxed them tip to tail with blue special and red in the kick zone - it worked! Run back down went well and holy s@^t I can still turn 205s.
A few more pix at http://teleturn.smugmug.com/2010-Winter/Shadow-Mtn/


086 - 2010-03-20 Teton Village

Second day in Jackson with bluebird skies. Walked up and saw no line for the Tram - Yee Ha lets go! On going through the turnstiles a patroler said it was the worst conditions he had ever seen; this was a prescient statement. On the way and at the top we could take in the North American Ski Mountaineering Championships, a mostly, yes there were a couple lonely telemarkers, randonee race. Once up top, we skied to the top of Corbet's to watch the racers boot up. After that we traversed over to Rendevous Bowl, where the steep icy bumps destroyed my spirit and more; I was in teh sux mode!

This continued until we moved to the eat place near the top of the gondola for a break. After that we headed over to Apre-Vous. Maybe it was some food or conditions changing toward softer snow, but of a sudden I was in the zone, total opposite of before. Though some say it was due to the Jaeger. Spent the afternoon over on that side and slowly moved toward the center of the mountain. A good full day, but a bit uneven for me. Highlight of the day was Gibby blissfully unawares skiing past several closed sign. Closed the day at Mountain High Pizza Pie - still the best!
Conditions - Icy evil in the morning, soft and fun in the afternoon.
Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178


085 - 2010-03-19 Snow King

Rolled into Jackson, checked into the room and had a fine lunch. Then we headed out on the hill for what is termed night skiing, but with a sunny day and daylight savings time, it was a nice late afternoon ski with questionable snow. Total highlight of the day was some guy who loaded a couple of chairs in front of us carrying a bunch of race poles. Somehow it didn't work out for him and he was hanging by an arm from the chair - oops, things hanging by a thread! Lifties and patrol got together a bunch of of giant cushions and, after a bit, he dropped into them. Ran into Jack McConnell, who I hadn't skied with in 20 years. Lost my phone, but they found it at the top of the Couger lift. After a few more challenging runs, went back to the room to find John and Yatsuko already into the beverages and the obnoxious fun began. Carried the fun patrol to Teton Thai - best in a long time, thank you internet!
Conditions - Death cookies times two. Jack, who runs patrol there, said it was the worst of the year. I kinda liked it and the whole day had brilliant sky and air.
Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178


084 - 2010-03-14 Bridger

A nice sunny day at Bridger with Hayden, Mahala and Jen. Spent the morning skiing with Jen across the mountain in mixed conditions. Afternoon with the kids was also across the mountain, with the terrain park thown in. Gus joined us for a run down Pierres Knob. Then up hooked with Todd and Dave for a cold beverage in the Deer Park Chalet. A fine day out.
Conditions - A couple inches of fresh (Thank You God!) made for dust on crust in the morning, and there were a few sweet spots. Things got soft and enjoyable across the board in the afternoon. Plus I didn't suck!
Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178


083 - 2010-03-13 Goose Ck

5 days of no skiing atrophies the mind, body and soul. A good remedy is to slap on skins and head to the top of Chesnut Ridge with Niko and Gibby. The up part went well, the down part less so.
Conditions - Funky overcast day, that was mostly below freezing, quite chilly on the ridge. Skin track up was very firm. Coming down the upper open snow fields was breakable crust that I linked wrecks on, trail back down was a bit more fun.
Ski - G3 Ticket 174


082 - 2010-03-07 Sourdough

Went up to Hyalite where Catherine was going to show me and Niko the skijoring ropes. Some idiot forgot his boots and didn't get to ski at all. We did get some pointers and Niko got in a good short ski with her while wearing a full harness.

Later that afternoon, me and Niko went up Sourdough. Slow Snow + Slow Dog + Slow Me = Slow Ski. Still feeling the cold and misc minor injuries. The first mile and half were rough and I had to make a couple stops. Things got a little better after that and we made it to the base of the hill a way past the 3 mile marker. Run back down was slower than I would have liked.
Conditions - A very warm day, first flat part was almost sloppy. Somewhat better after that.
Ski - Fischer SCS 185


081 - 2010-03-06 Bridger

Went to Bridger for the Pinhead Festival and a bit of skiing with Yatsuko. This year's theme was Carnival and a good number turned out in full party attire for fun in the sun and snow. Still feeling a bit bashed up and my skiing was not as on as I would like it to be. Did some minor hamstring damage and it hurt while turning. Yatsuko dragged me over to Schlasman's, where we had a good view of the crown from the huge Saddle Pk avalanche a couple weeks ago. Interesting run down that I would like to revisit when I've got the mojo back.
Conditions - Warm and sunny day with plenty of sun softened snow. I think the term is Spring Skiing, a bit early for my taste though.
Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178


080 - 2010-03-05 Moonlight

JC's last day before a return to Chicago and a year of no skiing. A splendid opportunity to abuse him! But abuse was not his alone, started out the day feeling beat up from a cold and finshed feeling beat up from misc face plants. Began skiing well and dragging JC around to various places. After some good morning runs, things devolved to agro skiing with a number of painful mistakes. Ran into Gibby who was taking an Av Level I. Highlight was a Lone Tree traverse over to the upper bowl and nice arcs in 4+ of fresh. Finished off with cold beverages in the Moonlight Lodge.
Conditions - A firm base from the last few warm days with 2-4 of fresh. Mostly cloudy and temps around freezing. Worked out pretty well.
Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178


079 - 2010-03-03 Sourdough

A real warm day in the valley, maybe 50. But the skiing was splendid, even wore shades for a portion, good opener for the first March ski. Powered up to the 2 mile marker like never before and held well to 4. Might be the first time I made to the bridge on a mid-week after work blast. Run back down was fast, but in control. Maybe 9.8 miles in 1:10 with plenty of light at the finish.
Conditions - Warm spring like snow, but packed and not slop, it held the skis well.
Ski - Fischer SCS 185


078 - 2010-02-28 Moonlight

JC is in town, so a day at Moonlight was in store with him, Dunc and Gibby. Another good Moonlight day with a strong crew. Hit a bunch of good stuff off of Lone Tree, Headwaters and other points. Skied well, even zippering bumps - what's up with that? Highlights were JC just having a real good time and Gibby doing a full body descent down Obsidian without skis. Best run was a soft and sunny trip down some of the Challenger terrain from the Headwaters lift. Finished with cold beverages at JC's condo with his extended family.
Conditions - Started out warm and sunny. This made for soft and enjoyable snow. Clouded up a bit later on, but stayed good.
Ski - G3 Rapid Transit 178