January 14, 2012

CMH Kootenay

Kootenay glades are a dream, a sweet dream of everything perfect.  Towering Selkirk Mountains above the Columbia River valley catch the snowfall among perfectly spaced trees in a way to create perfect skiing conditions.

Conditions are extraordinary right now in the Selkirks near Nakusp, BC, home of Canadian Mountain Holidays' Kootenay area.  And, the people of CMH create a wonderful, positive vibe, from snow safety guys to helicopter operations to the delectable British Columbian cuisine at the Kuskanox Lodge in Nakusp.

The Kootenay people of CMH have mapped and named all of the helicopter landing zones and ski runs, and the ski guides and pilots know them by heart.  Names like Drambuie, Cognac, Depth Charge, Snakebite, Steam Vents, Too Much Fun, Vista West, Grand Marnier, Tina's Turner, Little Leary, Too Deep, Squarehead, Trout, ...  Very creative and fitting of the run, the names are, but it's so difficult to decribe that feeling.
Feeling It
A gentleman of many extraordinary experiences from the south pole to the northernmost parts of North America and both hemispheres told me that it is impossible to explain it.  That feeling of swooping down the mountain in great arcs of sinusoidal balance on an airy, billowing white cloud of powder snow... the physical act can be described, but my words cannot rekindle that feeling it evokes:  some sort of exhilerating, euphoric, and focused sense of being in the moment of weightlessness, speed, and freedom.  We soak up the elixir, but we cannot really relate it to the uninitiated.  We sometimes make an attempt to explain it, and for doing so, we get quizzical or stark stares.  That gentleman's wisdom accumulated over his 75 years and global travels reverberated through me.  How did I ever expect to relate, define or describe the untracked experience?

Cold Smoke
The Sun Also Rises (and shines sometimes, too)
Photos by Kruser

January 7, 2012

Windshield Time, No Thanks

A long time ski buddy, RK, wants to go.  Go skiing?  Of course.  With powder in the Anchorage front range, why spend windshield time to drive elsewhere?  So, the Stoke Brothers met on the Propsect Heights-Near Point trail, RK came from Prospect and yours truly from Stuckagain, to ski up the Anchorage Hillside.  RK and yours truly both ski on Dynafit Stokes, a very sweet ski with an exceptional combination of climbing and descending properties. 

We skied up to the Rusty saddle, and back down to the Prospect Heights-Near Point Trail, a 2000-ft descent with a lot of powder.  This is a great run in Anchorage's backyard of Chugach State Park.  RK needed to get back, so he skied back to Prospect Heights, and I started the ski home.  But, the need for powder and the fresh snow on Near Point were too much to resist.

The Near Point summit called, and I obeyed the mountain commandment.  It was a fulfilling trip, a nice rock-free descent, well worth the work.  On the trail home, I met Sam 'n Fran, a couple of neighbors/ski buddies.  It was unanimous:  we're having a great winter with more powder on the way!

January 1, 2012

Food for the Soul

Backdoor Trail
 The joy of skiing... cruising along a groomed trail, or diving off a cornice onto a 40-degree slope, or meadow skipping along a ski-set track, sliding on snow is food for the soul. 

On new years day 2012, Chugach front range has exquisite snow - not a surprise, more like the norm below timberline.

Lost Cabin Trail

Highest Place in North America - January 1, 2012