Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My absentmindedness, part 4

This morning Rob and I decided to do a quick lap in Scotties Bowl before work. Usual routine: LCC lot at 5:30, throw stuff in one car, drive up, yadayadayada. I drove up the canyon. Rob and I just chatting as we drove. I saw the turnout to a parking area, but it was early, snowing, dark, and I was only loosely aware of my surroundings. I was thinking we weren't high enough to be at White Pine, so I kept going. Then I saw the Snowbird Entry 1 sign. Oops.

We pulled into the lot, and the Black Diamond Bus was there. Brad Barlage, his brother, and a few friends from the Brighton Ski Patrol were a few minutes ahead of us on the skin track. I was feeling pretty good this morning and didn't want to get to work too late since I spent the morning yesterday at Brighton, so I pushed the pace to try and catch Brad and crew. I knew my redline was well within Rob's comfortable range since he's one of the Wonder Twins and all.

Just when I thought we were going to close the gap, the skin track got crazy steep. Now the couple times I've been out with BD guys, the skin track has always been steep, so this was not surprising. But I'm convinced that some of Brad's purpose must have been to see just how straight up the hill he could go before his skins lost grip. I never actually fell on my face, but I came close.

A couple hundred vertical feet from the top, we finally caught the crew ahead of us. Catching Brad Barlage on the uptrack officially goes down as the highlight of my backcountry career. Nevermind that he was breaking trail through knee deep snow.

At this point Brad made the call to plant the flag, not wanting to risk a slide by continuing on through the upper section. Rob and I de-skinned and were the first to drop. I only took three pictures, none of them very good. This one gives you an idea how deep it was: you can see Rob's ski tip and glove coming out from behind the lowermost tree on the right. The rest of him is shrouded in white.


And here he is planing out as he goes past me. Notice that planed out, the snow is still up to his boot tops.


According to the Alta website, the snow density was 5-6% for the recent storms. It had settled a bit, so wasn't quite that light. I'd say maybe 8-10%. What a pity. Actually, the real pity is that Rob and I were the only two who got up for it. And other than getting up at 4:30, it didn't interfere with our workday. At all. Because we were back at the car at 7:37.

Those of you who don't know me probably figured that the title of today's post was in reference to driving right past the trailhead and having to turn around. It's not. At least not completely. Because when we got back to the car, I discovered that the gym bag with my jeans and sweatshirt in it were still at my house, so I had to go back for them before going to work. Double oops. So much for getting in by 8:15 even on a powder day.

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