Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Heavenly Report

Invigorating and rested are not usually the words I associate with my vacations and this is no exception. Long days of skiing, hard nights of too much partying and not much sleep makes for a desire to sleep for the month of March.

I knew I was back in South Carolina when I received the three signs. The first was a car speeding down I-85 with flashers on but no tail lights at all. This was at 10:30pm mind you. Next was a jeep wrangler pulled over in the median. Last was the full parking lot at Platinum Plus on a Monday night.

To my loyal readers I must say sorry about not posting lately but typing wasn’t the number one priority during my last few days of vacation.

The three days that I have yet to report about, were the best. The Pacific didn’t let us down and sent some moisture over the Sierra’s that resulted in 3 – 5 feet of snow around the area.

The first day was storm ridden but fun. My new jacket passed its test this day. Not much to say besides the fact that our car was covered in snow at the end of the day.

Friday was true to Lake Tahoe’s utmost beauty. I opened the curtains in our room to peer at a two foot pillow of snow covering the lower levels of the lake, while the sky was bluebird with a few puffy clouds. A day like this can cause sensory overload without any narcotic help whatsoever.

I was out the door before my companions as I was to ski the entire day by myself. Not by choice, but if you aren’t ready when the lifts are ready on a day like this, you are not riding with me.

I made the short hike to the gondola as I didn’t want to wait for the shuttle. Sweating from the walk, I bought my ticket and was transposed to the top of the mountain via the gondola. Myself and two other couples didn’t say one word the entire ride. Just breathing the mountain, and spying all the brand new fluff that some spirit had left for us to ride.

My next lift was on Sky chair, and yes, it does take you to the top. I snapped this photo as we were headed into the clouds that had just rolled over the peak. Ten seconds after that picture was taken you could turn around on the lift and only see cloud.

I cat tracked straight over to Mott Caynon up on the highest ridgeline possible that early in the morning. See, from Sky, you have to traverse the mountain back toward Nevada to drop into the highest point in the Milky Way bowl, keep traversing until you are on the ridge separating Mott Canyon and Killebrew (Brew), the most remote section of Heavenly. As I discovered over the past few years, people have taken a much bolder approach to this “Double Black” territory.

This was a strange year though, as I was cruising down the ridge checking too see if ski patrol was moseying around, so I might ride the second line of the day. I realized I better take warning from the low snow pack as my skis would be swishing along not making a sound, powdery champagne bubbles of snow flying on, then back off my clothes, when out of nowhere you would here the ominous “Sccccckkkkrrrrrrkkkkk!!!” and your skis would pitch you forward as though you had been lofted by Tiger using his sand wedge.

Since both Brew and Mott were closed, awaiting avalanche approval I decided to ski on and not wait. I was now in Nevada and I could see the desert out over Mott Caynon.

I skied down to the forever long Galaxy lift. I would swear that lift takes a fortune of your time, but you can’t help admire the peace as you swing slowly back up the mountain in your own personal “two-man” chair. Since I was alone, I made some of the ever so dangerous, hold the camera and ski movies not to be shown here today.

Once I made it back to the top of sky, I saw the sign indicating Brew and Mott were now open. I flew over and found gate B, it was closed, found C, the only open gate. If you do not know, you must enter through the gates or find extremely low pack among other things resulting in more death defying stunts.

I came into the top of an unknown named chute, (to me) and two guys followed me in. As I was alone, I jump turned my way down the top steep section and one of the guys yelled “point slide” as a tiny whumpf of snow went by my right side. Brew always has the most snow and often is not open. From there I snapped one of “the dudes” picture as they made there way down.

On a normal year the ride back up would mean watching people rip Mott under your feet. This is what it looked like this year.

Look at all the trees straight under the lift, on a normal year, they are completely covered. Right now they were standing taller than me.

I went straight back to Dipper and up for another run in Mott. As I was cruising the ridge this time I heard the sound of ripping cardboard and I was tossed off of my feet head first into the snow, as my hips shot around my head I suddenly grunted very loudly. I had smacked my ass on the left side, right below my lower back and kidney, on what I had thought was surely a rock. I lay with my face in the snow grunting as though someone is moving a knife around.

I gathered my composure and stood up to look at my culprit. It was a slighty rounded pointy stump. I immediately thought about my head striking the stump first, I got sick to my stomach. Why do I not wear a helmet when I ski again?

I was able to make turns under pain and continued on to the “Y”.

Notice the bottom of the canyon where the chute stops and the man skiing just below the right hand corner of the sign.

After the exposed rocks at the top, it was a fun steep cruise down. Then I decided it was time for an anti-inflammatory for my inevitable bruise.

I went for a beer but the taps were frozen so I had a Bloody Mary.

A couple snow covered trees off of Tamarack. Yes these trees are real.

What do you mean I have to pull over and take ANOTHER picture of the ugly lake?

Back to Cali Baby.

What’s the apre’s scene like?

I will have to load the video later and show you.

The last ski day from Kirkwood will come in a report tomorrow.


Sir Belt Buckle said...

Damn I miss living out West...

1SpeedBrian said...

Nice write up,sounded like a great vacation. I love the picture from the slopes with the desrt in the background.