Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 2009 - The Snowbasin backcountry

Primo conditions on February 19, 2009; but they kept Mt Ogden closed back then. Look at that sun-shadow line! (Click on the photos to enlarge.)
Looking down the sun-shadow line; large rock bands are just below this beautiful looking snow.

I've been getting more photos this season; time to finally put some up.
With the Mt Allen backcountry gate moved up the hill, the top of the Mt Allen NW chute is right out the gate. (I've heard some debate which one is the Banana chute; I thought it was the Mt Allen NW chute, not the next one north, which seems to come out of the Toto area?)

We had a good storm on Monday-Tuesday; on Wednesday (March 11) when they finally got the tram open, I cut a couple pockets out of the top of the Mt Allen NW chute, and then cut the cornice on the west entrance. Last year I was calling this the Logical chute, since its such a logical one to do ;-). Beautiful area; not a place to take a ride though, with scattered small evergreens below the west entrance, enduring the avalanche poundings over the years, branches all stripped off on the uphill side. I met up with Joe H yesterday, and did another run in there, and got some fine Coldwater turns in the northfacing trees.

video
Dropping the cornice in the west entrance, the "Logical chute", with the Logical point behind.

I missed the opening of the Mt Ogden chutes by a couple days (have to work sometime ;-), but I went up there Saturday morning and dropped in right before the little closed sign headed toward the summit, above the Mt Ogden main chute. I'd prefer to cut that bowl from the top; that sign is not in a very good place; but it was stable, and nice snow, a foot of powder with a soft base. Forgot the slope meter unfortunately; I'd estimate that entrance is over 55 degrees though; probably 58 or so. After cutting right, jump turn, and toeside slip, barely making it over a rock band clean, I cut right again, and tagged a rock just as I was going to start turning. Darn! Then hit another rock, oh well, that sweet Volkl 164 had to get broken in sometime. Hey Mike G, thanks again for that board; its my main ride these days.

On the way up toward the Mt Ogden summit, above.
After the run, with my cut going through the sun-shadow line, right of the summit. Someone did the technical line left of the summit a couple days ago (the "little chute" I wrote about last year), and there are also tracks in the "tower shot". That looks rocky now too. For reference, Snowbasin is reporting 116" today (March 15, 2009), and 339" season total. We had a couple very warm days in the 60s before the last storm cycle, and that really melted things. That last storm cycle really rejuvenated the snowpack in a big way.

February 3, 2009
The Outdoor Retailer show had on-snow demos at Snowbasin today, and it was fun to see some pros up on Mt Ogden ripping the chutes. The main chute got bumped out, and the choke was icy, but that didn't slow this crowd down much. Corky Still from Moment Skis absolutely charged the whole chute; quite impressive. Another guy threw a heli off a hit on below the choke on the right, into less than ideal snow; no problem.
Scoping out the Mt Ogden couloir.
Corky charging the fall line.
Teli turns in variable snow, heading into the icy choke.

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