Sunday, October 22, 2006

October Snow at Vail Pass!

Deepness in the Colorado backcountry.
Friday’s weather system left another 30 inch dumping in the central Rockies. Can you guess where I was Saturday?

Powder days start the night before.
Stoermer rolled up to my place Friday night with his sled. We loaded it on my trailer and packed the gear for the 3:30 am start Saturday. With sled access this early in the season we expected an Epic day on the pass but nothing like what we got. When it snows this much in the mountains the road crews do a good job but have a little trouble keeping up. Rate of snow accumulation the problem, good for the powder hound, bad for the snow plows. One must leave this early to miss the traffic of the resort goers (lifts open around 9am), allow time for closed mountain passes (Loveland pass was closed in route), deal with any driving mistakes or flat tires, I’ll talk about that later, and for what gets us up there, the sun rising over the Rockies with a 30 inch layer of cold, thigh deep, “Blower” POW. Yes we are spoiled here.

The backcountry shuttle and the short bus.
After we unload and booted up the first order of business is laying the sled road around the ski terrain. We pick our favorite spot on the mountain for the morning hours when the snow is nice-n-cold. With clearing skies we send our best sledder “Split board Dave” to blaze the trail. This can be tricky in the early season because stumps, rocks, little trees, and shrubs are still relatively exposed. Mountain sleds are helpless without snow underneath them. They are basically a 500 pound weight when stuck back there. Digging them out while the sun peaks through the clouds on perfect conditions is well, shitty. Luckily Dave is the man on his sled and he was able to weave through the trees, meadows, and rock bands side cutting the perfect road high on the pass without indent. All he asks in return is first line down, not bad. After all he is the first one up there. But unfortunately for him I think his line was poached by the powder frenzy(crawfish). Sorry Dave next time, good job though. Ha!

We called the shuttling sled the “short bus”, because we were all drooling and goobery, smiling ear to ear after the preceding powder run. Hauling ass back to the top we take turns driving the shuttling sled back down the hill, the “short bus driver”.

Life in the white room is good.
Pictures from the day here at TGR

Yours truely in the white room!! Heeyaa!

The little tire that couldn’t.
After a big day in the backcountry the body is drained but the mind is charged. So when we had a tire blow out on the highway on the way back home it seemed like a small price to pay. Yes it is a pain in the ass changing a flat trailer tire in the snowy mountain highway muck but we took in stride considering it part of the ride!

Let the season begin!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Alex,

    Buddy, your pictures over the last week or so are just killing me ;-) I lived in Golden and Denver over a two year period in the late eighties and early ninties and loved it!

    I have been a skier since I was about eight or nine years old so when I got a chance to move to Colorado for work I jumped at it.

    I should have never moved back (Minnesota) however my family was a draw and I ended up back in Mn.

    This winter my wife and I are planning on hitting the slopes of Colorado.

    Several years ago we skied Vail, this year it's either Snowmass or Steamboat springs.

    Anyway Alex, great pics on your blog :)

    Visit mine some time ;-)

    Brian (ski bum)