Ski Washington Challenge - David's Diary

Blog documenting my progress on the Ski Washington Challenge

Sunday, December 20, 2009

49 Degrees North

Although the forecast called for snow at 49 degrees, nature provided a more nuanced mix of precipitation, which tested my fortitude. Gusty winds made the rain and occasional ice pellets an annoyance on the lift rides, while clouds enveloped the upper slopes, making visibility a problem as well. Despite the less than ideal weather, I enjoyed cruising the creamy wet snow that blanketed the groom, and found myself carving up the trails with abandon.

Aside from cruising the groomers, I also poked around some of the steeper ungroomed trails, where I found stashes of powder and got soaking wet enjoying trails with almost no other traffic. Coverage was better than on some of my past visits, but wet heavy snow required trail closures that limited my options a little. Still, I found myself enjoying both the highly carvable groom and the pillowy powder stashes for a few hours, until I remembered the need to get back to Portland.

With a 400+ mile drive ahead of me, I called it a day a little earlier than I usually would to get a head start on the return trip. The fact that it was my seventh day in a row riding may have been a factor as well. Still, it was a great day, and I felt I made the most of it by beating the rush to get back into town.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mt Spokane

I made my traditional pilgrimage to Mt Spokane today, and enjoyed early season conditions. All lifts were open, but cover was thin in spots - "early season conditions exist" is more than a boilerplate warning here. Thankfully I was well prepared to jump over the occasional bare spots, and the groom crew here has done wonders with the snow they have to work with. The snow report indicated a 17 inch base at the bottom, which made the full-mountain opening an impressive feat.

The best riding by far was on the runs at Chair 4, where the clouds were thinner, and the rain less persistent. There were some snowflakes mixed in with the liquid sunshine, but it was one of those days where a second set of dry gloves was appreciated. I did my share of laps cruising the groom, which held up well all day long, but I also spent some time exploring the off-piste, especially off of Chair 1, where there was not much traffic, and therefore ample room for some fresh tracks.

As always, Mt Spokane retains the family feel of a local ski hill, while the lodge offers cozy accomodations for warming one's toes and yummy food for the famished skier. Even though I ended up soaked in the rain, the riding was good enough to keep me on the hill until nearly 3pm, despite this being my sixth day in a row riding. I love Mt Spokane!

After a full day on the hill, the next order of business was attending the Nutcracker suite. As always, the Spokane Symphony provided the pit crew, who provided me with a comp ticket to enjoy a little relaxation at the ballet before heading to another mountain tomorrow.

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