Sunday, February 15, 2009

BC Tour up towards Longs

I sit here exhausted on the couch looking forwards to an evening of electronic entertainment after a good afternoon out in the mountains. It is days like these that I am glad I have a TV. I often threaten to get rid of it but these are cheap plastic threats. I am so tired right now that if I didn't have a TV then I would go to bed even though it is only 5:45 and I haven't had supper yet. Reading is definitely out. I supposes I could probably just listen to the radio and watch the fire. Obviously I have enough energy to Blog but I feel myself fading quickly. Anyhow, let me attempt a short TR about what wore me out today.

I had planned on working most of the day today but with a combination of getting a lot done in a little time, having a new exceptionally good idea to mull over, and bright blue skies, I quickly grew tired of my desk and began to scheme. It was too cold to climb, or at least to enjoy climbing. Plus there was some of the heat sucking wind. I had a few hours so running was not ideal. I guess that left skiing, even though I just went yesterday. Molly was out because she wanted a quick workout so she could work on stuff around the house. So I threw a king sized Snickers and a liter of water into the pack, grabbed the gear and peeled out of the drive.

The plan was to see how far up Longs I could go before my turn around time of 4pm. I hoped to at least get above the treeline but was really shooting for the Boulder field. As usual I was grossly overestimating how awesome I truly was. On the drive to the TH I got a clear view of Longs. You can see by the haze that the wind was whipping up there and really moving snow. Both Longs and Meeker looked like they were steaming. But it was nice down by the road so the plan was still a go.

Pulling into the lot I was surprised to see so many cars. I ended up encountering about 10 snowshoeers up there. I starting huffing up the trail around 2:30, giving me 1.5 hours to see how far I could get. With the help of the iPod I quickly found my rhythm as I started covering ground. 15 minutes to the first junction, another 15 to the sharp turn by the creek, and then 10 more to the camping area. I had covered this far a few weeks ago but turned around just past the camping area because the trail disappeared into deep, soft, demoralizing drifts. Today, thanks to all the snowshoeers there was a great hard path slicing through the trees making progress much easier.

At about 1 hour it began to catch up with me. I stopped for a few and ate my giant Snickers, now frozen. If I chomped down on it I could break off a piece in my mouth and then essentially gum it down like an old man without his dentures. I tried to build a little seat in a local drift but soon realized that sitting with skis on would be problematic.

Rested, fueled and starting to feel cold, I cranked up the iPod and took off for my last half an hour. The song "Wolf Like Me" by TV on the Radio gave me the motivation to set a sweaty, gasping pace. From here on out it was some pretty steady climbing. As I gained on the mountain the wind gained on me. Right around 4 I was into the scrubby bush that marks the transition from forest to alpine tundra. Without the trees the wind was free to roam as it pleased, stinging the face and making the snow thin and hard. The Boulder field was still a long ways off, it was my turn around time and the sun has already sunk behind longs. It was time to turn around. Here is my high point.

The snow up here was rock hard so I tried to head down with my skins still on. That proved to work poorly so I stripped them and began to snowplow like it was going out of syle. On a high note, I have learned how to strip my skins without taking off my skis. It involves a lot of balance, which is a strike against me. I may of ended up in a bush but I didn't have to take em off!

I think the most challenging feature about BC skiing (at least the actual skiing part) is how quickly the snow consistency changes. I had settled into a nice snow plow, scraping along a rather steep section of rock hard snow when it suddenly turned into a nice soft slab, pitching me headfirst down the hill into 2 feet of loose powder.

I am sure it is funny to watch me crash in the mountains. When I crash and I am alone in the backcountry, my first reaction is panic. I thrash, swear, panic, and generally wallow for a good 25 seconds. After about 25 seconds I begin to wear out, pull a muscle in my neck or the back of my arm, and rational thoughts start to get more attention. By this time, my skis (and therefore my feet) are pointed in opposite directions, a pole is probably missing, and I am kind of sitting/laying at an odd angle in my custom snow recliner. Oh, and the thrashing tends to completely cover you with snow, including your goggles, which are steamed up by now. Now I generally force myself into what I will call system reboot. I sit quietly and do a check for pain, look around to make sure no one is looking, try to pinpoint why I am freaked out, clean out my goggles, and generally come up with a plan. 5 minutes later I am back on my feet swearing to give up skiing forever. Repeat until you get back to the car.

On a positive note, I am noticing that I can now get down the packed trails without much problem. I really only get into trouble when I venture off the trails into the trees.


Joe said...

Sounds like so much fun, dude. Good to hear you hitting it hard. Maybe someday I'll hike up Longs with you!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha!!!! This makes me laugh. I can just picture you thrashing about. : ) I love reading your blog. Keep it up!