1-3-2008 Vail Pass
Dogs: Cody & Wahine
I got back from California on the 29th and was expecting great conditions after the 5+ feet of snow had come down since I left. Unfortunately a huge warm up left the snow in pretty crappy shape everywhere. Winterpark was lame on the 1st, even on the off piste backcountry stuff. So I skipped the 2nd and gambled on the 3rd having good riding as a storm was supposed to roll in. It was also favoring spots west of the divide so we went for a late start and Vail Pass. We probably should have started earlier, but I had figured most people were up in the mountains for the three day weekend. Bad choice.
What was a 90 minute drive turned into over a two hour drive. We saw a lot of this.
Of course it was snowing so we were only hoping that it was piling on Vail Pass. We got to the lot just after 10am and started the 2 mile skin in.
Once we arrived to the area that we wanted to hit it was obvious that it was very wind loaded. With the deposition there was probably around 16 inches of fresh. Considering the avalanche danger around the west and the fact we were in Colorado no one wanted to drop on rollover on a fairly open face. So we did a rutschblock test to see what type of results we would get.
Vince and Chris digging the pit and getting ready to isolate the block.
Yours truly stepping onto the block to test it.
I was able to step onto the block and get centered as soon as a I did the knee bend it broke. On the first hop it slid.
Needles to say it was super tender out there and wouldn't take much to get a release. All sorts of red flags on that warning. The good news is that this area has short run ins with short cliffs to flats. So not much room for the snow to run as long as you stay in broken terrain. Which is what we decided to do. If it slid you might get carried, but it's highly unlikely you'll be buried.
I made the first drop to set up for pics. It was certainly blower. Vince thought it was good.