Change of Pace

Spring may be in the air but winter hasn’t quite given up its hold on the Arizona high country quite yet. T-shirts and corn snow summed up a fun day skiing my favorite bit of terrain on the mountain. However, as I write, the weather has pulled a 180 and high winds, freezing temperatures and snow have replaced the false spring of the past weekend. This is nothing unusual for the area though, you are never truly safe from a hard freeze until June and a snowy March is the norm.

A fresh sheet of corn snow to track up
Looking up at the cirque, top is in need of a little more snow to be skiable

With life coming at me fast in the next few weeks/months it was a good change of pace to get another tour on the lonely mountain and get away from it all. Stable and soft snow allowed us to ski some of the bigger lines we have been eyeing up the last few winters. These particular chutes take me to what I consider to be the most unique, fun to ski and visually awesome part of the mountain. The jagged volcanic rocks are twisted into some fantastic formations. Series of narrow slots and protruding hoodoos pulled seemingly from a far away planet or the over imaginative mind of a children’s book animator. Needless to say it is easy on the eyes.

Looking back at some fun tracks
Feeling small
Traversing under the hoodoos, some Dr. Seuss looking rocks
A field of hoodoos split by tiny little slots and chutes

The uphill was easy where there was firmly packed snow and comically poor where there was scree. One step forward and one step sideways/downhill and heads up below! The excitement of seeing what would be over the next knife ridge or narrow canyon corner kept us pushing uphill and forgetting about the steep slopes, uncertain footing and thin air. Excluding the occasional tumbling rock thawing out of uphill cliffs, the day as a whole was about as pleasant and fun as any I’ve had in the backcountry.

Scree stumblin’ and oh it is steep!
The uphill part of the downhill
Big cliff band, the way through is a narrow little chute to the right of the two standing under the cliff
Mini arch with some bonsai spruce and bristlecones

Here’s to a great day out on the mountain with the hope of more to come soon!

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