Mar 31, 2008

Snowbowl & Kachina Peaks - Flagstaff, AZ

No corn harvest yesterday, when Jrock and I braved the elements to ski the excrements.

It was nice to be up on the hill again. After watching a great season of snow fly on bye, I finally got an opportunity to head up Snowbowl – Kachina Peaks for some late season turns. Thanks to Jrock we had a couple lift tickets, so we got a few runs in on the groomers. This allowed me to check my systems to make sure I could still crank a turn or two.

It was tad bit breezy in the resort, and we could the poofy white clouds quickly moving over the ridge above the resort. Even though we knew the wind was honking up there, we could see lotsa blue sky. We also figured that the sun would be loosening up the frozen slopes in the Inner-Basin.

We grabbed our packs, transceivers, shovels and skins from the car, and proceeded to do a little lift assisted accent to the top of the ridge. We did a direct line up the snow filled gully above Snowbowl’s “Logjam Run”. The avi crud on this slope left us with some nice steps and ramps to walk up on. The slope was also super-duper frozen, so we took our time boot packing up; in hopes that temperatures would rise to loosen up this slopes we wanted to rip. It took us about an hour to get up to a major scree path we needed to traverse near the top (low point) of the ridge. The scramble across the rocks left us pretty exposed to the wind, and when we were within about 10 minutes of sitting on top of the ridge (12,000’ level), a major cloud layer moved in. This left us with pretty much no visibility, and the wind was blasting us with a constant 50 to 60 mph winds. I did walk over to the very edge of the ridge to see what the Inner Basin looked like, but the white-out conditions left me a little weary that I might actually be standing on a cornice. So I took a few steps back and said, not today. Jrock and I hid behind a rock from the elements, and I nibbled on my nearly frozen Sonic Burger. The wind sounded like a freight train, so we shouted out our plans for our descent. Directly below us, and between us and the resort was a major rock garden. And I certainly wasn’t into skiing down the frozen mess we walked up. At the time I couldn’t see the snow covered slopes to the north of us on; just below Humphreys.

We ended up scrambling down and to the north a couple of hundred yards to the thin strips of snow, to make our way down. With the cloud layer above us, we strapped on the boards for the crusty ride down. We descended about 1,000 vf on an open slope, before getting into the glades. Now the snow was marginally smoother, but still dangerously frozen. Skiing in survival mode, we clumsily made our way through the trees down to Harts Prairie. I was really relieved to be outta that mess; however, I still had a smile on my face knowing that even rough day on the mountain is still better than the best day on the golf course.

Here's a vid of the day:

And here are some pics taken by Jrock:

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