Sunday, January 17, 2010
Some kind of Telemark Team adventure every season is a MUST. The last two years it has be the Salomon Extreme Freeride Series in Taos. At other times it has been Telemare Extreme Freeride Nationals in Crested Butte. Going farther back it has been USTSA Extremes in Jackson Hole Wyoming, or the year we did a competitive Telemark interim to compete big mountain in Utah and then fly to the Mad River Glen Telemark Festival in Vermont.
This year that adventure was to be California but it fell through due to the high price of the comp. To replace it we thought we would pave some new terrane and put together an epic adventure that was non-competitive. The result: Take the crew to Silverton during the guided skiing season and snow camp the night before. This would provide the ultimate big mountain skiing experience while also giving the team a window into backcountry skiing techniques and avalanche awareness in a controlled setting.
We began preparing at the beginning of the week with an intro to why Avalanches occur and what to do if you are caught in one on Monday. On Tuesday we spent the day working on steep skiing skills at Highlands. Wednesday was an avalanche recovery demo by Meghan and myself and then time to pack and prepare, and Thursday was more steep skiing skills and a beacon recovery contest. Working with the guides at Silverton will provide the window into avalanche minimization, terraine choice, and group management in the backcountry.
Of the Week Leading to Silverton Aisha Says:
"Wow...I sure hope that we dont get caught in any avanlanches!
For the last couple days we have been learning everything about avalanches from the hoars that live in them to how to use a beacon to find our friends. We started off watching Meghan and Kayo find our long-time pal “Larry” who was unfortunate enough to be buried in the CRMS soccer field under a freak avalanche from Red Hill. Luckily, we were able to find him quickly and in style (as always).
Besides the soccer field drills, weve have some on mountain training too. On Tuesday we shredded the gnar gnar and on Thursday we were fortunate enough to do some more avalanche training along with some CRAZY skiing. My group definitly found our avalanche victim first!
Peter Madigan, JJ Whorley, and Kelsey Lewis pinpoint their victim.
Kelsey Bohannon, Peyton Heitzman, and Juan Pablo Alcozer racing against the clock.
Hannah Horn searching for a signal.
We are all SUPER stoked to ski Silverton though. Very few of us have ever done anything like this before so we'll all just jump in with both feet and hope for the best. But I dont know if were more excited about sleeping in a snow cave or the actual skiing..."
Friday 1/15/10 Kayo Writes:
"The adventure begins Friday morning. We all meet in the Barfork at 8, eat breakfast, pack lunches, pack the bus and Suburban, drop Amelie off at school, and head to Hell Roaring Ranch for firewood. I manage to immediately get the bus stuck in driveway. As most of the crew works on getting the bus unstuck, the crew in the Suburban chops firewood. When we get back down to the bus, it is still deeply stuck so I take the suburban back up to the ranch to get a chain. As I get in to come back to the bus, the suburban won't start. Oh man... is this trip going to be a disaster? We spend another 20 minutes trouble shooting this with my dad. He quickly improvises by poring gas directly in the carberator to give it a bit of fuel to get started and we finally get it going. At the crack of 10:30 we leave the ranch, Silverton bound!"
Red Mountain Pass... the final stretch.
Kelsey Freeman Writes:
"If getting a fatboy stuck in a snow bank was a fun experience, we could tell this was going to be a fun trip. After a four hour long bus ride, in which everyone slept in various positions, played all kinds of music from bluegrass to hiphop, and did homework quietly (hmm... not really), we found ourselves a spot to build our snow city.
A local fur trapper.
Charlie Boyne prepares for battle.
Can I kick it...YES YOU CAN
The plan was to build a snow trench that would fit all 19 of us, and much to my surprise, it actually worked. Our “Hilton Inn” was about five feet tall with skis, poles and tarps for a roof.
"We shall build here."
Laying out the foundation.
The Living Room and Kitchen
Packing the foundation of the Chalet.
Since the snow pack is thin and we can't just did in, we begin to pile.
Gracyn Overstreet digging in.
Kelsey Bohannon using a Jedi Mind trick to keep a sugar snow block from disintigrating.
Finished Pile! We line up to make sure it will sleep 20.
Excavating the center in the last light.
After construction, we had time to snuggle up by our fire and eat some dinner. Of course, we had intense rounds of the frog game, telephone, and a particularly heated game of mafia.
Kelsey Lewis and Kelsey Bohannon serving up some mean burritos.
The Theory of Relativity?
When it came time to load up all of our warm layers and inhabit the snow cave, everyone seemed fairly excited. Contrary to what we might have imagined, it looked like we were actually going to be warm. And the tea candles that we arranged along the walls added heat as well as a decorative ambionce. So we snuggled up in our sleeping bags, ready to shred some gnarliness in the morning."
Thorne Warner, Kelsey Lewis, and Adam Hobby hunkered in "the south end" of the Chalet.
A view of the rest of the cave. The walls are lit up with tea candles, which would also raise the ambient temp. The roof consists of ski beams, ski pole cross hatches, and a tarp cover.
Saturday 1/16 Kayo writes:
Out of fear of my watch freezing, I kept it on my wrist rather than hanging it from the top of the snow cave and as a result I never heard the 6 AM alarm Saturday morning. We all got 45 minutes of extra sleep as a result and at 6:45 we scrambled out of the cave, broke down camp and bought the two bakeries in Silverton out of all breakfast burritos and baked goods and proceeded up to the base of Silverton mountain.
For many, this adventure would serve as an introduction to big mountain and steep skiing so we divided up the crew into two groups: a less experienced crew and a more experienced crew. Sadly, two folks had to drop out at that point: Adam Hobby's subluxed knee had given out for a third time as we tried to get the bus unstuck at the ranch, and Jared Carlson who had begun feeling sick the night before. Both were great sports and hunkered into the bus and the base yurt for the day.
For the experienced crew the day would revolve around one big hike to get out to terrain that had yet to see ski tracks. Basically we would hike into terrain that normally only gets acessed by heli drop. To get their we hiked about 15 minutes up the main peak above the chair and droppped into a south/east facing coular called disaster. Dropping into what would by far be the most technical terrain of the day opened some eyes and raised some hairs. The crew, which consited of Kelsey Bohanon, Kelsey Lewis, Aisha Weinhold, Luke Falcone, Peter Madigan, Thorne Warner, Meghan Detering and myself, skiied the mostly still frozen, just starting to corn, “hasn't snowed for a month” rocked pocked coular with remarkable style. It was fantastic to see people dialing in the upper body position and putting all the hop turn drills to work.
Thorne Warner buckling his seatbelt.
Nothing like warming up on the most technical terrain of the day. Aisha Weinhold navigating "Disaster" in fine form...
...and is all smiles as her adrenaline subsides at the bottom.
Did I mention that it was bluebird and HOT? At the bottom of the bowl we stripped down (some of us all the way) to prepare for the two hour hike up the the other side.
Peter Madigan in his ascent attire.
Kelsey Bohannon prepares for the 2 hour climb.
Our ascent began in the trees, wove through a stunning bowl and up on to a windblown ridge for the final push. Aisha said this would be the first Telemark ascent of Everest, and we dubbed each aspect of the climb with Everest land marks.
The Khumbu Ice Fall
The Hillary Step
The summit ridge.
Leaving Base Camp 4
The Final Push
We topped out at about 13,500 feet, snacked in the sun, ate the Beanie Weanies that Dan had surrupticiously put in my pack, and then traversed an upper bowl into a lovely fall-line that had seen no tracks.
Aisha Weinhold, Kelsey Lewis, and peaks of the San Juans make up Luke Falcone's view.
"I knew my pack felt heavy"
Processed chicken and beef parts always taste better when eaten off a sunscreen bottle at 13,500'.
You know you've come to the right place when your guide looks like this.
BD would be proud.
For some, this would serve as Intro to Untracked Powder 101 and we began to drop into the gladed gully one at a time. This was it. This is why we ski, why we hike. The snow, although somewhat tricky as month old snow is prone to be, was mostly like BUTTER. After everyone had schralped the upper glade we enjoyed some gladed trees down to the bottom of the bowl.
Peter Madigan busts out the bag-pipes.
Kelsey Lewis finds the perfect venue for 182 Verdicts.
Face Shots for Aisha Weinhold
Peter Madigan busting out some Beanie Weanie powered turns.
Luke Falcone leaving his fat skied, raised tip signature on the slope.
Kelsey Bohannon milking the last few turns into the valley bottom.
Meghan Detering using the trees to get back to her ski racing roots.
Our group finished the day with one last painful lap up the chair and then down one of the avalanche gullies. By that time we could hardly stand up.
The hike and ski in the background. Left to Right: Luke Falcone, our guide John, Kelsey Bohannon, Peter Madigan, Thorne Warner, Aisha Weinhold, Kelsey Lewis, Aisha Weinhold, Kelsey Lewis, Meghan Detering.
Kelsey Bohannon about to get her tongue frozen to some RAW IRON.
Of her first big mountain skiing adventure JJ Worley Says:
"Looking over the edge of our fist run at Silverston sent a shot of addreneline through my viens. Just like jumping off the divingboard for the first time, you had to commit to the run. Once we dropped in, there was no turning back. Although the snow was maybe not what you would call “prime conditions,” I can say that skiing at Silverton was some of the best skiing I have ever had; certainly it was the most challenging. Looking back up at the run with my legs burning and my entire body aching from numerous crashes, I was super excited to have made it down the rocky, bumpy, and choppy slopes of Silverton (how ever ungracefully)."
Kelsey Freeman inspects a new world record packing job.