Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th Of July! We skied Hidden Couloir!

What an incredible day! Angela Patnode and I had plans to ski the Great One, a 4th of July tradition here in Bozeman, but it was thundering and lightening all night long (and the fireworks were going off, and Bodhi fell out of bed TWICE, and the cats were meeeooowing, and Wya was pacing around, scared of both the thunder and the fireworks...) so it was a really restful night.

Anyhow, we were worried that that amount of rain would make the snow rotten, so rather than riding our bikes up the Fairy Lake Road and then hiking up to the couloir, we decided to ski something closer. We drove out to Bridger at about 8 in the morning, a nice late start, and hiked up the Bronco Face to ski Madman.

Anglea is obviously familiar with summer skiing, I think my hiking for snow ended in June last year, so I showed up with my flip flops on, snowpants (oh MAN do I need some spring pants... these heavy, courdura, lined pants are killing me! They are great in the winter, but WOW are they HOT!) and my skins in my backpack.

I am not entirely sure what I was planing on skinning up, as the only snow anywhere was stuck in the north-facing couloirs like little mini glaciers. Angela, wisely, was in shorts and a tank top, good hiking tennies, and had all her gear (minus skins) in her big backpack. Man, I learn new stuff every single time I go skiing!! Angela loaned me a pair of tennis shoes and off we went.

It was an incredible hike, there was a thunder head coming in to the south of us, over the Saddle area of the ridge, but it curled around, dumping everywhere but on us, and providing us with some shade and a nice breeze, as it was already 80 degrees when we started hiking!

The first lap on Madmans was really fun, the snow was compacted from the summer melt, so we could actually push on it, and get our skis to do some fun stuff, and dodging the little rockfall that littered the chute was a bit like a high-speed video game with tuning bench consequences!

We skied as far down as the snow would let us, and then booted back up to the North Bowl road. At this point, I peeled off my shell, which was just soaked in sweat, and looked at Ange. "I am tempted to hike in my underwear, I kid you not!"

She laughed. "Do it! No one is here! I've hiked in my underwear, naked, whatever, do what you gotta do!"

So I stripped down to my Performance Panties and off we went again, this time to the top of the Bridger Ridge and then along the spine to the North until we got to Hidden Couloir. I couldn't figure out why the second lap was so much better, faster, and more fun... and then I realized, I wasn't wearing black snow pants!

We had a great hike up, ate lunch on the top, and then made a plan to ski Hidden, which can, at times, be 50 degrees at the top, depending on the snow pack. I am JUST NOW remembering that I have an inclinomiter in my beacon, I should have used it! Ah, well.

The snow was clinging to hidden like a solid slab just pasted on to the earth below, and I really wanted to ski it from the top. Angela has skied this line before, and she was deciding to go around the side, as in the pinch, there was only enough snow for about 1/2 of my ski to be in contact as I side slipped through the narrow portion.

We talked through the fall line, the consequences of falling, what it would be like to ski it from the top, and then she said, "You go ahead and ski it from the top if you want to, I'll stand here and support you!" So I gave her my camera and in I went!

I was nervous, but not out of my skin, I had been planing on making two small turns from the top, sideslipping the narrows, and then skiing out into the second section, but I ended up sidesliping the top two "turns" as well, as I didn't want to be off-line for the pinch and end up in the space between the snowpack and the rock wall!

As soon as I got through the narrows, I started skiing, and it was BLISS! I made a couple of turns out into the main chute, and then skied that chute out to a place clear from rock fall and hollered up to Angela.

She and Jake, her lovely golden retriever and ski companion, hiked around and dropped in. I have a great video of that portion of the ski, but its sideways, and I have to make lunch for the boys, so I'll post it in a bit. Jake was nervous to come down because it is very very steep, but she managed to encourage him to run down. The smart dog did a series of switchbacks to manage the pitch, and we skied out.

All in all, it was a glorious day, beautiful, warm, sunny, wildflowers and tall grass, good friends and skiing! Thanks for a great day, Angela!

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