Thursday, November 18, 2010


Most people have probably heard by this point about how strong a La Nina winter this is supposed to be, and here in the Northwest, how cold and snowy that is supposed to make our mountains. It seemed to be coming true in September, when we got plenty of new snow on Mt Rainier, and it is continuing to show such a trend, with some significant snow above about 4000' in the North Cascades.

Coming back from the east, with three more days off before returning to work, we did a little cycling and indoor climbing as the weather turned cold and rainy, then went to check out the mountains, hoping that the rain had indeed been good snow up high, as rumored.

Indeed. Hiking up to Skyline Ridge, close to Mt Baker, we topped out at 5800' and, lo and behold, there was about 18" of rained-on consolidated base, with 2-3" of new, smooth, fluffy snow on top, just waiting for us to ski it. Four skiers and boarders were there just ahead of us, but their tracks helped provide some depth perception in the otherwise featureless white surface the snow becomes in clouded conditions.

The inevitable first-of-the-season gear shakedown meant that I forgot mine and was using Dave's skins while he tried his new short "kicker" skins that don't cover the whole ski, just the part underfoot. They worked pretty well and he patiently took a less-steep path to climb back up after each run. Down the steeper part, across a bench, and down to the thicker trees. Skins on, hike up, and repeat. Good skiing in November, who'd have thunk it?

A bit of a storm is moving through this weekend, with very cold temperatures, including a good chance of snow in the city. Really? In November? Sounds like it's time to wax the skis and put the chains in the car. Winter, here we come!

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