Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Winter's Surprise

Some winters come and go with little fanfare. Some backcountry ski seasons are the same. The last two years (2009 and 2010) were pretty uneventful as far as great mid-winter touring as the snow was sporadic, the coverage mediocre much of the season in the Cascades and no "perfect" days in the backcountry that coincided with my days off. We had a good late season making for decent spring skiing but the powder days were hard to find.

This year has been something a bit different. Out of 8 days of ski touring in the past 2 months, 7 were in powder conditions. Seven. I can't remember getting 5 good days of powder even when skiing in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies for a week.

Needless to say, the camera has been humming. I've produced more short video tours of the places we have explored then in any past season. Some of the explorations were true surprises. Like Bear Mountain and the north side of Cougar Mountain in Okanogan county. We climbed these mountains with no clue at the beginning of the tour of how the conditions would be on the way down, only to be delighted by the depth and quality of the snow. Then there was Heather Ridge. The forecast was for 2 inches of new snow and the telemetry data said the same on Steven's Pass that day. But as we climbed we say the snow was much deeper as we climbed up, only to find a full 18" of fresh, light, cold powder at the top. Doesn't get much better than that on a day when expecting "dust on crust".

That is one of the great things about ski touring. You find new places, new routes, unexpected snow conditions - all are treasures. In a world where it feels that discovery is rare and a thing of the past, winter can surprise us with this fresh new world of snow and light that bathes our visual and kinesthetic senses with the beauty of freshly laden slopes with supple and voluminous powder.

Check out my YouTube Channel to see the results:

DrTelemark's YouTube Channel