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Report from the Sierra, 2/10
3 posts from 2 users
Updated 6 months ago
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Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

I’m at about 10 days for the season now.  Yesterday I had a great day of spring skiing at Kirkwood.  Today, I hiked into the backcountry at Carson Pass nearby.  It was too cold.  I did the hike in with high hopes, but it remained breakable crust.  43 degrees at noon.  It needed 10 more degrees and 1-2 more hours.  I unstrapped the skis from my pack and made a couple of very difficult turns.   Then a little voice in my head said, ‘you’re in backcountry alone; you’ve skied for a long time, you know better than this.’  So I put the skis back on my pack and walked out.  I got a good workout at 9000 feet.  No regrets.  The temperature fell for the rest of the day.  They called it a dry cold front.  I love spring skiing, but it’s a mixed blessing.  It is the first stage of the snowpack committing suicide.  Without some more major storms, that is what we are looking at.

I will be going to a week at Steamboat, feb. 25 - mar 3 with a retired men’s group.

6 months ago

Denis wrote:

  Then a little voice in my head said, ‘you’re in backcountry alone; you’ve skied for a long time, you know better than this.’  So I put the skis back on my pack and walked out.

Dennis, you should train that little voice to say these things BEFORE you head into the back country alone. It took a friend of mine a blown ACL and 8 hours of crawling out of the back country to learn that lesson.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

Bob,  I hope your friend is OK, fully recovered and able to enjoy the mountains again.  I love mountains, even as much as skiing.  I hike them alone in all seasons, would never give it up, although my physical capabilities and ambition are gradually fading.  I walk alone in the city I live in as well, and consider it more likely that I will come to grief stepping off a curb into the path of an inattentive driver than in snowy backcountry.  Hiking does not present that great a risk in my opinion.  Putting on the skis ups the risk considerably.  There is a snow park lot at Carson Pass, for which you buy a permit.  It was at capacity, about 200 cars.  I went out the main trail on the south side of highway 88.  It was heavily packed, by skiers/skinners, hikers, and snowshoers.  I went in 1/2 - 3/4 mile to a gentle open meadow, a place where I’ve enjoyed springtime cruising in gorgeous surroundings many times.  It’s gently pitched and south facing so I’d hoped the sun would have softened it, although the shaded trail to access it was still firm.  No such luck, hence I hiked out.  BTW, Jim K and I hiked nearby on this trail on nearly dry ground in the low snow season of 2 years ago.  He can vouch for how mild it is.  I saw 10 or more people on my hike and was probably never more than 200 yards from somebody.  I carry various pieces of emergency equipment, depending on conditions, but always carry a ‘2-mile’ whistle, purchased from the Appalachian Mountain Club, 25 years ago.  It’s the lightest, cheapest and simplest rescue equipment anyone can carry, far more likely to save your butt than anything else.  My wife always has a detailed description of where i’ll be and Expected return time.  I call or text her when I’m out.  

So that’s the story.  Everyone has their own standards for risk in pursuit of the joy of the mountains.  

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” - John Muir

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