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For those willing to earn turns, Smuggs is the place to be!

I knew that M1 was not running, due to upgrades, and thought that a run up
Madonna would be an "easy" way to earn some turns today.  This decision
proved to be the correct one!

After a quick ride from Jericho, we arrived at lot 1 a little after 8:15 and
flakes were already flying.  By the looks of the mountain from the ride up
108, things were looking up.  The lot was packing in rather quickly, but I
had a feeling that most of these folks would be spending their day standing
in line at the Sterling lift . . . I was so excited an pumped that when I
got back to the Jeep, I hadn't even closed the door - left it wide open . .
.

After getting the gear together, we headed out - skiing past the growing
lift line on Sterling.  We donned our skins in front of the base lodge - we
started getting funny looks almost immediately.  My ski bud is my neighbors
son-n-law, Mike.  For lack of a better word, he is an animal when it comes
to skinnin' - impossible for me to keep up with.

In 2000, Mike won the Millennium Trip from Couloir (sp?) Magazine, a
two-week package in the Selkirks with Rudie.  He had such an incredible time
that he booked his second trip with Rudie before he came home.  The skills
he absorbed from his trips show in his style and grace climbing.  Its even
better to watch him ski down - especially in 12-18 inches of the white
stuff!

Mike made a mad dash for the top, stopping once to catch a short run down a
lane that looked to good to be true - powder up to his knees and we haven't
even reached the top of M2!

After a few gulps of water and some clementines, we were off for the top
taking upper Chilcoot - the cat must have passed within the last hour or so,
so it was easy skinning - within twenty minutes or so, I had switched to my
alpine gear, (I had climbed with the $20 rig I purchased from the Cochran
sale), and Mike was ripping his skins off.  First run, Doc's - as we
approached the top of Doc's, things looked a little sketchy at the drop-in,
but white swells seemed to rise and fall lower down the run.  we slid our
way to FIS, which just looked incredible!

After a few unstable turns, we each got a different rhythm going in the deep
powder.  It was deep enough that you had to almost wait for the turns to
happen, but when they did and you slowed your pace down (as well as your
heart-rate), the feeling was simply bliss.

After a quick right, we are now heading down Doc's. Some of the swells had
reached close to 2 feet, almost slowing you down, but still light enough to
float right through.  AAAHHHH!

We reached the top of the M2 lift, took a break and assessed our situation.
I had to be home to watch my son, but Mike had no such issues.  We decided
that we would ride this run clear to the bottom, and he would grab a bite to
eat and head back up for more.

Even the snow from M2 to the bottom was incredible.  All at least boot-cuff
deep.  The water content increased as we dropped in vertical, but never to
heavy to make nice turns.  I think I screamed and yelled all the way down!
This was an unreal run for the first run of the season!

I could feel that the rig I used to climb with had caused me some pain -
trekking in race boots is no good - blisters were bursting everywhere on my
feet - but no pain, no gain - right?!?

Mike made several more runs, his first solo climb took him a little over 1
hour 8 minutes to the top of Madonna.  He hit Docs from the top, stopped at
the top of M2, and literally ran back up Chilcoot for more!  His last run
was Liftline from shack to shack.  Liftline was skiable in late November!
Unreal . . .

As he was leaving, he noted that it was still snowing.  The forecast was
calling for 1-3 more.  Our tracks from today will be covered, so if you have
the will and the gear, I'd be hitting Smuggs ASAP!  Last I heard, Madonna
will not be ready for another week or so - As one tele-dude that we talked
to at the bottom said " It will never be like this again!"

Good climbing!

REX

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