Words By: Simon Coward
Report by Simon Coward
Images by Dennis Newsome
One of the benefits of working in a Splitboard shop is that, after the weekend you have a slew of info on what conditions have been like out in the mountains. Everyone who rents from us and returns their boards are a super invaluable source of mountain beta, thank you all for that!
So with some confidence and a new storm on the horizon we again made the decision to go with the short drive option and head to k-Country for our Tuesday in the hills. And man, were we not disappointed!
Photo: Still some early season 'issues' out there. Trying to keep socks dry on the creek crossing
Winter has most definitely arrived in the Rockies, after last years pretty average snow year it really looks and feels like mid-winter out there, the trees are covered in snow, things are starting to fill in nicely and, by yesterday afternoon a good 5 – 10cm’s more had accumulated and at 4:30pm was snowing S-2 near Black Prince with no sign of it letting up.
So, with that in mind yesterday was a pow day for real! Knee deep re-trail breaking (we were fortunate enough to follow up a well set skin track for part of our day, and in places it was fully filled in and then some), once off the existing trail it was a fairly standard Rockies wallow but forward progress was still not too bad.
Photo: Skinning up in a winter scene that just makes me stoked - snow falling and accumulating before your eyes
We rode on a couple of different E – NE facing slopes (25 - 40 degree steepness), the highest we got was the top of treeline elevation. Visibility was super limited at that point and the wind was having it’s way with all the new snow falling up higher, wind slab development was rapid and as the day progressed you could feel surface snow conditions deteriorating, now that was out of the protection of the trees.
In the trees it was amazing, knee deep turns, first face shots of the season and, in the area we were riding (near Black Prince) although the snow surface was still contoured it seemed there was very little risk of anything jumping up and grabbing you. I personally had my first high speed, worry free turns of the season. After coming back from a surf trip in San Diego last week it felt good to get the surfy snowboarding feel happening again!
Photo: Some pics from one of our runs below
Our group noted that in some steeper (35 - 40 degree) treed features that there were some significant size surface sluffs releasing from any convex features, these ran a short distance until the terrain flattened, some were likley waist or more deep by the time they came to settle, something that would likely transfer and magnify once above tree line. As per todays Wednesday Nov 18th) avy forecast I think things are likely going to be super touchy for the next day or so, with the now wind affected storm snow and the buried variably bonded layers.
In saying that though, if you can get today off (or tomorrow), go to your favorite protected pow stash and have a day in the soft stuff. If the pow days I have this year are all as good as yesterday I will be a vet happy rider.