Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm Posts: 1619 Location: Santa Cruz, CA
photos by jimw, ChrisI, fassnor
It was yet another weekend when the Sierra was getting hammered with light pow, and here I was sitting at home doing things I "should be doing". I made myself feel better about it by noting the rather high avy danger and telling myself it would be too sketchy to find anything decent anyway.
Then fassnor called Saturday night, and told me that he had just had one of his best bc days ever.
He and knucklesplitter (Matt) had been touring in the Mt. Rose area, and had found some protected areas with great conditions. That was all I needed to hear to get my priorities straight. So I called ChrisI, and we quickly decided to meet fassy and Matt near Mt. Rose the next morning for a "quick day trip".
We didn't realize quite what an epic it was going to be getting up there from Santa Cruz on Sunday morning. I met up with Chris and his buddy Jason early, and we left SC around 4:30 AM. It hurt. Chris drove his sweet road-trip van. It only has the two front seats, and is stripped out in back. So there's plenty of room for gear, and makeshift sleeping arrangements.
Problem is, it's not 4-wheel drive. And with this cold storm, the snow level was very low. Chain control on 80 started clear down near Auburn. So we had to break out the old-school chains.
Unfortunately, the road was still mostly snow-free for quite a while, and the chains didn't like that. Pretty soon we broke a couple links, with the resultant thrashing of the wheel well. So we resorted to Plan B - take the chains off and plant Jason in the back over the wheels.
We had to drive pretty slow and it took us forever to get to Truckee. At this point we were about 6 hours into the trip. I figured this would be a good time to realize that I forgot my jacket at home. Doh! Might want that on the day an unseasonably cold storm is rolling through... Fortunately, Jason saved the day since he happened to bring 2 jackets.
We eventually made it to Mt. Rose around 11:30. We dropped of Jason at the resort (haven't fully converted him to the splitboard religion yet), and drove back to the designated meeting point. Finally got geared up and ready to go around 12... only about 3 hours late. Fassy and Matt had already made a couple of laps, and the first-hand snow report was a thumbs up. Matt, being the local, made the call for what to check out next - Hourglass bowl.
Here's Matt leading the way with... wait a minute, what is that? A dog??? In the backcountry??? Yep, Brodie was having a blast, and was usually waiting for our slow asses to hurry up.
Me and ChrisI looking very cool (right?)
About an hour later we were at Hourglass bowl.
I asked Matt, "Isn't this the place where there was a huge avalanche last year?". "Yep. Ripped out 6 feet deep down to the ground." Hmm. Matt had first-hand reports of stability from the previous day, and we watched another group of 4 descend without incident, but we did the smart thing and dug a pit anyway. Fassnor checking things out.
There was a little crust about a foot down (under the storm snow), but the new snow from the previous day seemed to be bonding pretty well. Everything below that was very consistent and basically bomber. It was a little surprising as we expected to see a lot more layering based on the avy advisory, but it did bring home the point that the snowpack stability can vary a lot within a small geographical region.
We dropped into the nice deep pow. A little too deep in fact. That combined with the flat light made for some interesting turns... but after 9+ hours getting here, Chris and I weren't going to complain. Here's fassnor getting some:
Matt explained that most people do laps in the bowl, and climb back out when they're done. We decided to drop down a bit further, and traverse out to hit another chute that Matt had in mind. This turned out to be the wrong decision, as it involved lots of almost flat terrain, and a not-so-fun traverse.
Poles helped a lot during the semi-flat sections.
We even tried to "pole" across some slightly uphill sections, which probably would have been funny to watch. Not exactly an efficient maneuver on a snowboard. Eventually we reached the bottom and reluctantly realized we'd have to start skinning again.
It was at this point that I noticed a couple interesting things. First, Matt was growing a nice snotsicle.
Second, it appeared that fassnor had gained some weight since the last time I saw him.
I thought about how wonderful it was that fassy had finally fully assimilated himself into American culture. He already had the SUV, and now he was a lard-ass. The process was complete.
(Actually, he was carrying his skins and camelback in his jacket in an attempt to warm them. But that's not as funny.)
We had to do some interesting routefinding on the traverse out.
There were some tricky spots on the traverse. I never thought I'd see this, but there was actually a point where fassy had to admit defeat on the skins.
We finally made it back to he existing skin track, and things got a little more sane.
It was starting to get late (and damn cold), and we were all pretty beat - even Brodie.
We figured we had time for one more run back down to the car. Matt suggested his normal dawn-patrol route, Proletariat. About an hour later we were at the top of the run, and it was looking sweet. I dropped in first.
It was face shots all the way down! Those 30 seconds made the previous 12 hours all worth it.
Matt (I think he's a skiier at heart)
Chris (really, trust me)
From there it was a short glide through the trees back to the parking lot, where we arrived around 5:30... to find that ours were the only cars left. We packed up, grabbed some dinner in Truckee, and drove another 4 1/2 hours back to Santa Cruz (where there were still traces of snow on Hwy 17, and an accident blocking all lanes).
So it ended up being about 21 hours of driving and hiking for, oh, maybe 10 minutes total downhill sliding. But the fun factor still won out, and it was worth it.
Special thanks to Fassy for motiviating, Matt for sharing, Chris for driving, and Jason for saving my butt with the extra jacket...
Nice jimw...I really enjoyed the write-up. Nice and some good photos too!
Seemed like I had a similar weekend. I thought I forgot my snowmobile key(needed to get into our ranch in the middle of nowhere at 10 pm) at home and found it before turning around...then after snowmobiling 8 miles I thought I forgot my skins at the truck (I packed em thank goodness).
Looks like you had a great day of riding. It is all worth it.
Where the hell did you guys go??? I saw Matt and fassnor at the trailhead in the morning...
*assnor and I lapped Fireplug a few times and then came back to the cars to pick up JimW and ChrisI and then headed out again just before noon up to Hourglass and Prolo. We tried running Hourglass out down too far and got bogged down in the deep-ass pow. Returned to Proletariat instead of hitting a semi-not-so-known chute.
Great narration JW. Maybe I should change my username (again) to Snotsicle. Hmmm...
And PJ... quit yer "ewwww"ing. You're just jealous.
Then fassnor called Saturday night, and told me that he had just had one of his best bc days ever. Bastard!
note to self: call fassy before he has had too much booz after the last run... "one of his best bc days ever" was prefaced by "remember, I don't go that often, so might not be a good indicator" actually that was very close to true. but best bc day ever was still on that mountain
Finally got geared up and ready to go around 12... only about 3 hours late. Fassy and Matt had already made a couple of laps, and the first-hand snow report was a thumbs up.
checking cell signal and voicemail every 5 min while you are climbing, and trying to optimize the "let's do one more run while the SantaGruz gang is busy with chains crap, but not one too much so that they don't have to wait for us" was fun. We ended up racing our last climb and got the the trailhead at the exact same time. nice timing!
Second, it appeared that fassnor had gained some weight since the last time I saw him. I thought about how wonderful it was that fassy had finally fully assimilated himself into American culture. He already had the SUV, and now he was a lard-ass.
I am in complete denial. this is not me. who are you talking about?
that's it: I am on a slimfast diet until next TR by JimW. see the swap section for the SUV. I am letting that go too. "American culture"? wat iz zat?
I am right away going to post on the thread that has the tip regarding keeping your skins in your jacket... just found a major drawback: it can be very damaging to your ego and your image if you happen to be skinning with the (in)famous JimW who can shoot pics faster than Matt's mother's underpant can drop.
that's it: next time the skins go in tha pack.. with tha beacon.
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2005 3:18 pm Posts: 57 Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Good god he's real! I knew Fassy was hiding something!
Was great riding with y'all this weekend, as usual. It's my unprofessional opinion that snow chains are highly overrated.. *eyes cold-looking chain control guys*.. "These are not the droids you're looking for..."
More snow this weekend! The season's just getting started.. Whitney MR and Red Slate in April?