Gulf of Slides, Mt. Washington, NH 5/15/99

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Gulf of Slides, Mt. Washington, NH 5/15/99

Postby JimB » Mon Apr 17, 2000 11:57 am

<I>(Note from the Administrator: This report was originally posted on 5/18/99. Due to our move to new servers, the date and time attributed to this post is incorrect.)</I> <BR> <BR>Pulled out 'o Burlington Friday about 6:30pm after picking up <BR>Kathleen's mother at BTV International. Arrived at <BR>the "Royalty Inn" in Gorham a little after 9:00 with no moose <BR>encounters. The Royalty is an excellent place though <BR>I can't report on the $. They've got a pool and jacuzzi <BR>and such but we only sampled the beds after a perfect <BR>day of skiing and hiking and some reebs in the rooms <BR>on Sat. night. <BR> <BR>The Bogan clan saddled up on Sat. morn. with Denis, Kathleen, <BR>myself, Dick Carlson, Denis' son Johnny, and former scout (Eagle, <BR>no less) from Denis' troop Jesse, met up with Jerm, Matt, <BR>and Mark R. for a truly fine day in the Gulf of Slides. Our <BR>prediction of doubling the population of the Gulf of Slides <BR>was slightly off... there were a grand total of four there when <BR>Jerm and Matt arrived. The entire day we saw only two <BR>more folks with skis for a skiing population total for the day <BR>of 15. Needless to say the skiing lines were basically <BR>unspoiled. <BR> <BR>And what lines they were. Our first run was up the Main Gully <BR>with the incredible slide damage at the bottom. It had carved <BR>a perfectly symmetrical corridor out of the substantial evergreens <BR>well down from the higer angle slopes. If you're here on a day <BR>that looks like something might let go, don't hang out near the <BR>first aid cache. You'd be way too close for comfort. The memorial <BR>sign on the cache for the two skiers who'd died in just such a way at <BR>that spot in '96 is a powerful reminder. <BR>The climb was fairly low angle up to a little rocky waterfall that <BR>dead ended the main gully, forcing us climber's right. A tele-dude <BR>and dudette were climber's left of the waterfall and basked in the <BR>sun as we ascended. The sun was intense and the breezes were <BR>seldom, so mucho-hydration was essential. <BR>As we bore right I paused often to take in the southeasterly views <BR>of Cranmore and Attitash and the easterly view of Wildcat. Mark's <BR>steady "ka-chunk" with AT boots, crampons and ice axe looked <BR>fun. The man knows his toys and knows how to use 'em. <BR> <BR>Half the group clicked in (what to tele-ers and boarders do?) just <BR>below a narrow spot were the brush started to encroach. Kathleen, <BR>Jeese, Johnny and I climbed higher, though we encountered some <BR>unnerving undercut snow where you could hear and feel the fast <BR>rushing water beneath you. It was loud enough to make verbal <BR>communication difficult. Kathleen wasn't too keen on falling through <BR>and she and Johnny stopped 20yds past the narrow spot. Jesse <BR>and I climbed a bit higher and were stopped by brush. <BR>The first few turns were simple hops, picking a narrow line in <BR>between brush, rocks, flowing water and snow ready to cave <BR>in. Mark provided verbal inspiration as I nailed the narrow spot pretty <BR>well. The snow was perfect corn. It had probably briefly frozen the <BR>night before and was not at all like the slop that returns little <BR>energy to your turns. We got good action shots of everyone <BR>hitting the crux of the run, including Jerm and Matt, who easily <BR>caught us after their first run. <BR>The rest of the run was wider and lower angle, with perfect snow <BR>making for energetic turns and huge grins. The flatter bottom part <BR>with slide debris made for a nice obstacle course. We regrouped, <BR>downed lunch and drank in the sun as we leisurely contemplated <BR>round two. <BR>I thought about heading over the small ridge to climber's left and reaching <BR>the snowfields that you can see so well from Rt. 16. Consensus seemed <BR>to be for the narrow gully that we'd first spied on the hike up. Turned <BR>out to be the correct choice, as run #2 was truly epic. <BR>The climb seemed fairly easy at first but turned sketchy quickly. The <BR>gully snaked left around a rocky outcropping and then got steeper. <BR>Undercut wasn't a problem but every now and then your bootstep <BR>would collapse in the softened snow, sending you 5'-6' down the hill. <BR>Kathleen experienced a couple of these and got a little spooked, <BR>but made a great run anyway. <BR>Jerm again caught us, cruising with his teles over one shoulder <BR>and his incredible stamina leaving us awed. His bootsteps were <BR>quite wide, and I chose to take two two his one quite a few times. <BR>We reached the logical end of the run and Jerm cruised right <BR>over some brush to access the next gully just above. Now I <BR>know Jerm has done this type of thing many times before, and <BR>I'm a serious turn-earning newbie, but I was unsure about him <BR>skiing alone. (Translation: I justified going a little further for <BR>altruistic reasons.) I wouldn't have continued if he hadn't. <BR>About 60' of brush climbing and disentangling later, we were <BR>back on snowa firma, though this time feeling very alone. <BR>Jerm commented, "a little intimidating, huh?" as we <BR>stepped up a 40-45 degree gully, about 4-5 ski lengths wide <BR>above a mini-waterfall. Yoiks. <BR>It was deadly quiet as I gingerly clicked in, being very deliberate <BR>and slow. Jerm had dissapeared above, ascending to the ridge <BR>and peering into Oakes Gulf. I yelled a couple times and he <BR>later said he had heard me, though I couldn't hear his reply. Turns <BR>out I could've bagged another 100' of vert. with good snow above, <BR>similar angle, but my nerve was up and it was time to go. <BR>The snow was basically perfect, a little heavier in the late <BR>afternoon sun, but the turns were sweet. Didn't come close <BR>to blowing it and I got up a little speed, which spooked me. <BR>Nearing the brush cutoff, I spied a little gully on skier's <BR>left that paralled the brush section. I yelled down to Kathleen <BR>and she was thankful I'd made it down, but she didn't think <BR>the gully I'd found connected through. I said I'd just take a look <BR>but went ahead and skied it. Better than downhiking through <BR>wet, steep, thick brush, I rationalized. <BR>Five turns later I was faced with a choice: hike back up and <BR>downhike the brush we'd originally ascended, or negotiate <BR>a smooth, overgrown waterfall emptying into seriously undercut <BR>and overhanging snow. Lord knows why I chose the latter. <BR>I de-skied and de-poled and tossed them onto the heavy <BR>brush where they stuck. I then got a hold of some tough <BR>branches and did a little rappel. Next grab the skis and poles <BR>and toss a little further. Repeated this dance about four times <BR>over the running water and rock. At the bottom the overhanging <BR>snow dissappeared into blackness. As I attempted to move <BR>laterally around to the safer snow, my foot conveniently removed <BR>about 25 sq. ft. of snow with a thud, down into the water, the <BR>maneater Jerm spoke of. I went further left, finally reaching stable <BR>snow. Retrieving skisand poles was tricky, as I got a little too close <BR>to the remaining overhang. One pole was at the floor under the <BR>overhang, and for a few anxious seconds, laying atop the undercut <BR>snow while blindly reaching down for a piece of aluminum and plastic <BR>made me question my sanity. <BR> <BR>The rest of the run was a piece 'o cake. Everyone else had <BR>left a little bobsled track and a few turns netted nice little <BR>airs. At the bottom we all marvelled at what a perfect run <BR>we'd just conquered and adrenaline masked the fact I'd <BR>just scared myself silly. <BR>We packed up with big smiles and stories to tell, and I envied <BR>Matt and Jerm tenting on the mtn. The stories reebs and kielbasa <BR>make me a little more envious. Lugging a 65 lb. pack up the <BR>long G. of S. slide would be a bit of a downer, though. <BR>The hike down was entertaining and long, with wet snow and <BR>stream crossings keeping you on your toes and putting some <BR>of us on our butts. The bottow third was serious mud. Kathleen <BR>almost lost her shoes in the glop. We all wanted to ski this <BR>sucker when there's snow all the way down. Beautiful double <BR>fall lines, blind turns, narrow and wide, steep and mild, and long. Why <BR>don't they cut this way at the lift served stuff? (Some do, <BR>I suppose) <BR>Mark provided the well-earned reebs in the pkg. lot and we made <BR>plans for a shorter but equally epic day on Sunday...
JimB
 
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