In the White Room
published by schmuck
Words and photos: Connor WalbergWhen we set out to hit Vail’s lift accessed backcountry in the morning, we had no idea how deep the snow could really be. With the mountain reporting eight inches overnight and three the day before, it seemed like a pretty normal powder day. The roommates were reluctant to get out of bed, but with enough calling I finally convinced them to get up. A waffle breakfast and some reggae helped set the day into motion. Even with the initial struggles of the morning my roommates Anthony Luczkow, Matt Luczkow, Grant Weiler and I still managed some sick early tracks down Prima Cornice, one of the mountain’s steepest runs that sloughs to deep powder. After that it was game on. We hiked straight to the backcountry access point and dropped down one of the most premier routes. Some would call the experience “white room,” and if you’ve ever ridden pow like this, then you know exactly what that means. The snow was easily chest deep, deep enough to make it nearly impossible to catch a breath without choking on the great white fluff. I rolled straight off a 20-footer (equipment in backpack) and didn’t feel the landing. From that point on I couldn't see anything until I hit the next flat spot and stopped. Watching everyone else drop down was unbelievable, and whoops could be heard from all around while other groups experienced the same thing. We took turns dropping the next cliff and watched each other drop under the powder until we met again at the next shelf. There I set up for a few powder shots. For two of my roommates all you could see in the picture was snow— no poles, no ski tips, nothing but white. Not the best for a picture, but we still managed to pull a few shots off that worked. From there we straight-lined all the lower faces just to be able to make the traverse back. With a stop back at home we watched some of The 40 Year Old Virgin, ate some Ramen and eggs, and caught the bus back for an end-of-the-day lap. This is when Anthony decided he would drop one of the most well-known cliffs in Vail’s backcountry, Mushroom Rock. I would estimate the face to be about 50 feet, but due to a fairly flat landing, tons of speed must be taken to land comfortably. Standing next to the cliff and waiting for the shot felt like it took forever. Finally, Grant yells down to me that he is dropping in. The shot is all lined up and I await the 3-2-1-drop as he approaches the cliff. Suddenly, Grant yells and I look up to see a cloud of snow coming down the chute next to the cliff. I turn away and try to cover as a small slough buries my poles and camera pack and fully fills in around me with chest deep powder. A small slide but sketchy nonetheless. Anthony fell above the cliff as it slid, but managed to stop with enough room to get speed for a smooth landing. As he dropped all that could be heard was the wind whipping his jacket as he took the drop to around 70 feet. The shot turned out and the video footage was sick!We finished the run with a few small drops and the lightest, deepest Colorado fluff any of us had ever skied. Easily the best two runs I had ever had and with the promise of even more snow the next few days, the conditions should stay dope!