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Lost Trail reported another 3 inches overnight, which would help to freshen
up the tracked areas from Saturday, and further boost the depth of the
untracked snow.  We even got ~1/2 inch of snow down in the valley, and I had
to (gasp!) actually brush snow off the Subaru.  The morning weather was
almost a carbon copy of Saturday, with a temperature of ~20 F and roads
covered with a bit of snow.

I didn’t think there would be as many people around on Sunday as there were
on Saturday, but just in case, I decided to get over to Chair 2 quickly.  I
boarded Chair 1, and the lift operator (who seems to be new) called me
“Vermont Man”.  On Saturday, she had asked me about my green plaid, and I’d
explained to her that it was the identifying mark of my “ski club” called
Ski Vermont.  I didn’t quite have time to explain that it was an
internet-based organization, but I told her I was the token Montana delegate
(when I last corresponded with Doug Slifkin in the spring, he told me he was
leaving the Bozeman area and heading back east to get a job, so I think E
and I might be it for SkiVT-L in Montana right now).  The lift-op informed
me that there was actually as much as 5-6 inches of new snow overnight, so
maybe some fell after they gave their early morning report.

I warmed up on Southern Comfort as I’d done on Saturday, but this time they
seemed to have groomed the whole trail.  On top of the groomed base were
about 3-4 inches of new snow, and it was the perfect opportunity for carving
big, fat, soft arcs.  A couple of other guys and I got first tracks down the
whole trail, and it was pretty sweet.  About halfway down, I was pressuring
through a nice arc, and my boot just popped out of my binding.  I went down,
and my ski decided to head off down the trail.  Fortunately, one of the
other guys saw it go, and quickly caught it.  I was surprised by the boot
out, but it reminded me that I needed to check my bindings and possibly
crank up my DIN settings a bit.  I guess popping a ski on the groomed is
better than having it happen in a more critical terrain situation.  I double
checked that there was no snow in my binding, clicked back in, and had a
blast finishing off the run.  The lift-op at Chair 2 asked me if the snow
was as deep as my snow-covered clothes made it look, or if I had simply gone
down.  It would have been nice to tell him about my secret stash of waist
deep powder, but I decided to tell him the truth ;).  I headed down South
Face, and worked the skis pretty hard through the powdery bumps.  The
bindings seemed to be holding up fine, but I popped into the ski shop and
made a couple of adjustments anyway.

The skiing on the main mountain had been great, but I was still anxious to
check out a little sidecountry over at Chair 4.  So, I strapped on the skins
and headed up Oreo.  I hiked part of the way with a snowboarder, who
informed me she was going to ride “Jackson Five”.  It turns out that this is
the area to the skier’s right of Hollywood Bowl, which the ski patrol keeps
permanently closed (although it seems a lot of people go in there anyway).
But, with Chair 4 not open, all the terrain is game since it’s out of
bounds.  Not wanting to venture into potential avalanche terrain, I had my
eyes set on skiing the Super G trail, which I knew would provide some of the
best pitch of anything I felt like skiing alone.  I almost didn’t get to ski
it however, because I ran into a patroller at the top of Chair 4, and she
told me to turn around.  I think she was confused about where I’d come from,
but once she learned I had skinned up, she said it was fine.  The problem
arose due to the face that they were soon going to be opening Chair 4, so
the area was about to become “legal” terrain.  Fortunately I got in just
under the wire.  The only thing they would be opening would be Sacajewea
anyway, so riding the lift wouldn’t get me the turns I was seeking at that
point.  The patroller also warned me that the face was still pretty bony, so
I should watch out if I was heading there.

Heeding her advice, I didn’t drop right in under the Chair 4 lift at “The
Slot”, but instead traversed down a bit further and then cut back.  This let
me assess the conditions a little better before dropping into a steep line.
Coverage was OK, but the face was windswept as usual, so it wasn’t
powderific.  There were some stumps and logs poking through, but once I
approached The Slot, I could see that it was filled in as I expected.  I
skied the rest of The Slot, which was relatively unaffected by the wind.
The skiing was great, but I was still a little conservative as I tried to
make sure I didn’t encounter any underlying obstacles.  After the Slot, I
cut right to get to the top of Super G.  The first couple of pitches, which
faced east, were simply fantastic.  I’d have to put these down as my
favorite turns of the season.  I was alone in the middle of the huge trail
for turn after turn of bottomless powder.  Those turns would have been worth
twice the hike I had to do.  The final pitch, which faced south, held a lot
of promise for even better turns, since it was the steepest (probably
approaching 30 degrees).  However, due to the southern exposure, the powder
wasn’t bottomless, and I would touch down after sinking in a foot or two.
So, it didn’t quite compare to the earlier part of the trail, but we’re
talking subtle shades of great skiing here anyway.

When I arrived at the bottom, I could see a couple of skiers waiting for the
opening of Chair 4.  If it had opened right away, I would have taken a run,
but after waiting 5-10 minutes, the lift-op still couldn’t give us a firm
time for opening.  I decided to ride up Chair 3 and head home, since not
much was going to top my previous run anyway.  I stopped in the lodge to
grab a snack, and headed home with another good day of skiing under my belt.
  I’ll have to see if Snowbird will offer up something this week that can
top my run of the season thus far.

I only got a couple of quick scenery shots for the day:

http://www.JandEproductions.com/2005/09JAN05.html

J.Spin

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