Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tahoe Pow and the Splitty

Last week, Tahoe received lots of snow, and while most of it came down earlier in the week, Saturday and Sunday were still pretty good. I went with friends to Kirkwood and to Heavenly. Here are two Kirkwood shots (riding up to the Wall, and the area north of the Cornice lift).

As expected, in Kirkwood all the easy to reach powder stashes had been flattened already, but coverage is great compared to earlier weeks. The Nostrils chute (below Norm's nose), which is one of my favorites, has so much snow in it now that it is barely recognizable as a chute at this point and provides little adrenaline. But I'm not complaining - I liked the snow below Covered Wagon Peak best. Here's two pictures from this area:

Cruising out from there, the ride went over rolling little hills with fresh snow into the trees where I got stuck a few times. I used the opportunity to improve my splitboarding skills, by converting my board into skis for an easier hike through the flat areas. I learned that I'd need more practice - I'm too slow to make the conversion worthwhile unless I end up using the skis for about half an hour. I also learned that skiing mode without attaching skins doesn't provide much traction in deep snow, unsurprisingly. In any case - great day! We ended it with hottub, delicious food, and a stay in a condo near the Stagecoach chair which turned out to be a decent deal. Here's a picture from our window on Sunday morning, looking toward Carson Valley.

After a little run down the Stagecoach area I decided that I wasn't going to hang out on groomers or moguls or try super hard to find a few powder pockets in some dense forest. Instead, I left my buddies behind and went to Killebrew to practice my splitboarding skills, starting things out by sailing down some fun chute into the canyon. My splitboard is lengthy and heavy so it takes extra effort to make turns on the steeper runs.

Killebrew is not snowboarder friendly at all. At the bottom, there is a narrow uphill traverse that drags on for a while, so most snowboarders stay out of the canyon for this reason. But this time, I wasn't planning to traverse anyways - I converted my snowboard into skis, attached the climbing skins, and started skiing up the hill.

This turned out to be less trivial than I had thought. Even the most gentle slope in Killebrew is plenty steep - enough so that my snowboard-skis easily slid sideways as I was attempting to traverse back and forth up the hill. I remedied the situation somewhat by adding the crampons, but still, this was not just a serious workout but also a good learning exercise. Half way in, I got slightly better at this, mostly by placing the poles and the feet with the crampons strategically and by taking advantage of the trails others had made when coming down the hill. I was wearing no jacket, no fleece, no gloves, no helmet, no goggles, just my base layer and some sunscreen. I had no rush - there was little wind, sunshine, blue sky, and beautiful rocks, trees, and snow all around me. After some hours of traversing back and forth the slope, I arrived at the top. Whoohoo!

I found a sheltered place to put my splitty back together. During this mechanical project, my fingers got cold, since fitting the pieces together requires scraping snow and ice off the board. Also, despite the sunshine, the metal parts of the board were cold enough to make my skin stick to them a bit, so I had to stop and wait a few times to warm my fingers. I think I'll need to invest into some thin, waterproof gloves to make this work more pleasant. I set sail down into the canyon for a second time. The slope starts out looking trivial and then converts into chutes.

The run I ended up with was pretty skied out but the snow was still reasonably soft - and as always, the scenery and views are great.

After my hike out of Killebrew and back to Mott, I traversed over to the East Peak Lodge. Coming back from my Killebrew excursion felt like returning to civilization - and sure enough, the Dipper Express lift was closed due to strong wind and Comet Express had a super long line at the lift - in my absence, I hadn't missed much here. Taste may differ, but I'm beginning to like hiking up the hill compared to waiting around for the lift.

No comments:

Post a Comment