Went out back today with a couple of friends to the mysterious land of East Vail for a reunion. The recent vail eight(see four real) inch storm was a welcome change and a psychological victory for the valley. Far from curing all woes for lack of snow, the day long storm at least made the landscape look like actual winter. Snow in the trees, covering the ground and the majority of the bare spots on the mountain were the biggest benefit from the snowstorm. At least now we know it can snow and whatever horrible pattern of beautiful weather we have endured changed for a little while.
Luckily, we have avoided the fate of resorts like Squaw, which closed outright this past week. Hopefully more snow in store for us on Wendsday but nothing sustained which is what we really need in this mid-season game of snowpack catch up.
Upper scarp area of Tweeners was rock hard with about five inches of new, medium density snow on it. There were a couple other tracks and we noticed no signficant sluffing from their turns. The gullys in Benchie had evidence of natural new snow sluffs sometime during or after the storm that ran to the first bench after the first cliffs. Nothing significant, not really that much new snow to make it so. Most of Benchmark looks like a mini-evergreen forest and is unskiable in the areas that ran.
The choke in Tweeners is a three-foot wide frozen bush slide on to a frozen scraped out track. My attempt to hop the bush and ditch speed to skier’s right was met with acceleration out to the skier’s right side of the exit, towards the fresh snow next to the trees. I made the move to test the density change in the snow with my head three different times.
As I tumbled through snow and bushes, I had time to reflect on an early season that has been filled with too much time on groomers and my bike and not nearly enough time in the backcountry on skis, as evidenced by my triple lindy. I stopped rotating and took the mental inventory that is required after a good, meaty fall. Everything intact and working. Skied toward the sound of laughter which led me to my ski partners. Jeremy let me know he has it all on Go Pro. You Tube gold. I don’t fall often any more, a testament to my I’m-old, if I’m upside down it’s a problem, not fun, style of skiing. When it does happen, it is a sight to see.
The middle of Benchie drainage skier’s right after Tweeners in the fields skied well, actual shin/knee deep powder turns in mostly consolidated fresh snow. There were spots where the skis sank and dove, but had I had some enjoyable turns through the middle.
Had to walk out around the corner of the west face that leads to the lower traverse out, but no more than five minutes of hoofing it.
We we able to pick our way down the lower aspen glades with coverage minimal and the snow punchy. We stayed on skis all the way out to the water tank, which was a bonus. Definite survival skiing down low but worth it to actually get to try out the AK JJ’s on something other than groomers.
Snowpack didn’t change at all with the new snow. Loose facets and rounds still make up the majority of the pack. New snow aheared well to the hard pack underneath, surprisingly. Cut the skier’s top right middle on my entrance to Tweeners to see if there was any energy, but nothing popped.
Vail resort deals well with the low snow does a masterful job of moving snow around to make the skiing good as it can be. East Vail really highlights just how low we really are. The middle of Benchie is two feet short of being viable and the run out is arduous. Be careful out there.