Quandry Spring Skiing, Easter '06
Or, SPF 20 is not Enough
Quandry is a relativley quick and accessible 14'er just south of
Breckenridge, Co, and is known for being a good ski hill as well. The
SW chutes are a steep 45 degrees or so, while the east face is a more
sedate 30-35 degrees. The mountains had been downright hot lately,
and we wanted to ski the east face before it all melted off.
Snow as Food
It's curious how many snow words are shared with food;
We were looking for corn, but got just about everything on this trip;
a little powder up top (very little), light wind pack, breakable
wind-pack, light corn, and at the base, corn mush (would that be
grits?). Anyway, all these food analogies are fundamental to why
Telemark skiing is the true way to ski; when Telemarking, one gets many
opportunities to taste the snow.
- Colorado likes to boast of their 'champagne powder', which is fine
and well until some damn fool uncorks it (avalaaaaanchh!!!!)
- Champagne powder then sits around in extreme cold and crytalizes
into "sugar snow", which is very coarse ice crystals. In the spring,
sugar snow then makes for sugar pockets; very loose, and absolutely
formless snow. Ski onto a sugar pocket and you sink most of the way to
the ground. Try to walk through it, and your foot goes to the ground;
it's like wading through very thin, and very cold water.
- And last, but most important in the spring, we have corn
snow. It's only yellow corn if there's been too many skiers and dogs.
- Although, Sastrugi sounds like an italian dish.
It's a bit of a slog to the summit, but we made it up there in fine
time; Mark went to take a nap while G and I touched the summit.
Finally, time to ski. We were some of the last folks off - everyone
else got there very early lest it get too warm and avy-prone. Such
was not the case today; the sun was wayyyy toooo bright (SPF 20 is
really not enough. not even close. my nose is still peeling
2 weeks later), but the wind was cool, and the snow stayed pretty
fresh all day.
Mark heads down first, in his usual lack-o-turns-or-faceplants-style.
Gretchen, having fun!
Eric getting ready to carve
My turn in the limelight - Pics by Gretchen.
Great pic there hon.....
Everyone else we'd seen ski off kept heading down. And it was only
noon. What else were they going to do all day? Drink beer? That did
sound appealing. Maybe they had Easter dinner to get to. But after our
first run, we decided that was so much fun, we'd go do the top 1200 ft
again. Around 900 ft up, we started to realize why everyone else
skips the second run.That's a real slog up through 14,000 ft for the
second time. More great skiing at least, although the legs were
pretty well shot by the time we got off the breakable crust and down
to the real corn snow, which is what we came for in the first
place. And yes, we avoided the yellow corn.
Great Day, eh?
And once again, I'm reminded of how lousy a point-n-shoot type digi
camera is in the super high-contrast situations.
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