TR - Arapahoe Basin, Mar. 3
Alas this was the only day in 8 days of Colo skiing that I did not ski powder. The storm reported in the Loveland TR the day before had given A-basin a foot of snow and 2 feet of wind (as we used to say in NH). A-basin is even higher and more wind exposed than Loveland. Nevertheless, it was my first trip to this legendary area since 1985 and my son's first ever. The temp. was in single digits and the wind was still strong. We headed to the new (this year) Montezuma Bowl. The surface was challenging; a mixture of windblown ice and windslab, that occasionally broke away into pieces anywhere from a square foot to tabletop size, that went sliding down the mountain. In places ice technique was needed and in others jump turns were needed. It was all the same whether one was on the 'zuma side or the front side.
A-basin is on the Pacific side of the continental divide and Loveland is on the Atlantic side. The pass between them on Rt. 6 is 11,990 feet elevation. Before Montezuma, A-basin was known for 2 things, the steep runs off the Palavicini lift and the East Wall, which requires some traversing and hiking. EW is not particularly steep from the traverse down, about 30-35 deg. but there is some magnificently steep terrain above, on which the ski gods hike & play. Not on this day; it was all closed. I took one EW run. When you start down it doesn't look that big, but above tree line views can be very deceptive. I found that I was picking up speed alarmingly while turning further out of the fall line, or so it seemed, and recalled having the same sensation 20 years ago. It was slabby and grabby and it was all I could do to hang on through a couple of high speed GS turns to the bottom. I enjoy big mountain wild snow conditions but that run exhausted me and I quit for the day. John found some nice powder on the skier's far left of 'zuma (it skis left), and also found that the windblown ice on the Pali side was no fun.