Headed out into the bluebird Wendsday afternoon, eager to escape the groomed confines of early season Vail. I decided to head to the emptiness of EV. I skinned up Sourdough and headed past Two Elk, where the workers were just starting to pull out the picnic tables from the stacks. The back was empty and parts of the West Wall sat pasted an early season brown and white. Up the Silk Road I went and headed out the back door route to Old Mans’. It was nice to get out and stand on top of the ridge and take in the expanse of EV once again, though it looked vastly different than the last time I stood on the ridge. The prominent cliff band off the right side Old Mans’ entrance, which disappeared some time in January last year, was in full view now. At present it lies just below the ridge crest, but after a half season of regular snow load, the cliff band is at least thirty to forty feet below the entrance. The growth of the scarp above the cliff band is a true testement to the amount of snow transport that occurs at this spot due to the prevailing Westerly winds. Rocky tiers, cliffs and shrubs belie what was a smooth, fast entrance crowned by a massive cornice eight months ago.
I picked my way through the entrance and dove between rocky ledges and shrubbery, taking time to cut various pillowed pockets between rockbands. These small wind drifted areas provide good test spots for stability. There was little reactivity, and the old settled storm snow sitting on the usual layer of larger loose “October” facets skied like two feet of baking soda feeling unconsolidated and, of course, thin.
I skied cautiously to the flats and headed out to the highway instead of braving the thin cross cut over to the bus stop. I linked super slow pow turns in the trees on my way down, working my way past the half buried stumps and downed trees toward the highway. More snow than I thought, but two feet away from glory… Paitence friends and think snow.