Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birthday Skiing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right 26 exclamation marks! One for each I'm getting old, but that never seems to stop the fun. On this particular day (some would say the greatest day in history) I woke up at the crack of 9 am, which is extremely early as far as birthdays go. I had a plan... an ambitious plan. I was going to ski, river surf and mountain bike all in the same day. As much as I would like to tell you I completed my plan I can't, because the skiing was just to much fun and took all of my time.

We started off this adventure by driving to Highwood Pass, a now favorite spot of mine. This is how it unfolded. (The altitudes are approximate).

7306 ft:   

In the parking lot and pumped. Audrey and I could see snow higher up in the mountain.

7330 ft:   

Unable to contain ourselves, we run to two patches of snow slightly above the parking lot and slide down on our butts a few times.

7306 ft:    

We return to the parking lot and continue to pack. People in the parking lot going for day hikes wonder what we are doing with skis and stop to ask us in amazement.

7400 ft:   

I start noticing the altitude. Passing hikers continue to ask us about our journey.

8100 ft:    

We start to enter the alpine, and we can see several larger snow patches higher up but are slightly discouraged but the lack of snow but continue to press on believing in better areas over a distant ridge.

8400 ft:    

Audrey and I are amazed to see a 300 pound plus lady on her way down the mountain. We spend the next 20 mins entertaining various ways she could have got to that altitude.

8700 ft:   

We make it to our first decent snow patch and slide down on our asses with a super stoked kid that asked if he could slide too. After debating whether or not to stay there and build a jump or make it over the ridge in front of us we opt for the ridge.

9000-9500 ft:

Pay dirt and by dirt I mean snow! There were several large patches of snow sheltered on 3 sides from the sun. We were pumped and started jumping in to our boots and skis. The first patch we skied was fairly long and mellow ending in a sweet roll down slash drop section. We took turns taking pictures and runs. On one of the the runs with Audrey set up to take a picture of me grabbing some air over the drop at the bottom, I took the air narrowly missing a mini crevasse that dropped 8 feet below the snow into an under water pond. We investigated the hole for a bit, climbing in and throwing rocks into the water to see how deep it was. After that little warm up we headed for a steeper and longer patch. At over 9000 feet, hiking the 300 plus vert snow patch was a lung and leg burner but it was so worth it. The length and pitch allowed for some serious speed and sick turns. On our second or third a group of people making it to the last ridge we hiked over stood and watched us, cheering us while we ripped July lines. After a few more runs and with the altitude and hike wearing on us we decided to head down.

7306 ft:

We made it back down the mountain fairly quick even with a stop to drink some glacier water from a water fall. Once back in the parking lot we slowly packed our stuff away and with time and tiredness in mind we made the decision to cancel the other activities and head home for a much needed relax session.

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