Lost Trail Powder Mountain, MT 09FEB02 & 10FEB02

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Lost Trail Powder Mountain, MT 09FEB02 & 10FEB02

Postby Jay Silveira » Mon Feb 18, 2002 12:57 am

Lost Trail is known for being incredibly laid back about many things, and the process of getting chairs 3 and 4 open this year has been no exception. Initially, the talk was that they were waiting for the base to build up before opening these chairs, but with the past few weeks worth of storms, everyone knows that isn’t the case any more. It appears that chair 3 was having electrical problems which have been tricky to figure out. Chair 4 (the new chair that will quintuple Lost Trail’s skiable terrain) is supposedly a real space case, and failed its load test a couple of weeks ago. Most folks question if it will even open this season. <BR> This past weekend, things finally moved in the right direction and chair 3 opened up and ran continuously. Although I was out of town the previous weekend, I heard it was running then but had some difficulties. In actual “on-piste” terms, chair 3 doesn’t provide much in the way in of terrain except a few greenish trails and a couple short steeper sections. However, chair 3 really raises the bar if you’re willing to hike for a few minutes. An approximately 5 minute hike up to a ridge (I’ve heard it called both “triple jump” to denote the backcountry kickers that are present there, as well as “Bear Claw”, which is a new one to me) at the northern extend of the current ski terrain will deliver some great untracked powder. When chair 3 isn’t running, you’re relegated to heading down the terrain on the south side of the ridge back to the main base area or a LONG slog out from the other side. But with chair 3, one can head off the north side and get about 1000 feet of vertical with lift-serviced return to the base. <BR> E and I arrived at Lost Trail early Saturday morning and found nice conditions from the 6-12 inches of snow they had received in the past few days. We skied a pleasant groomer to warm up first. After that, I showed E some new woods that I had explored the previous week when some friends were out in Montana/Wyoming for vacation (report and pictures on that trip will come sometime soon). The woods were nice, with lots of untracked snow, although the streambed at the bottom was a bit tracked out and firm from traffic the previous week. I blame James, Dave, Chris and Greg actually for skiing in there too much! When we finished that run and arrived back at chair 2, the big announcement was made that chair 3 was open! Woohoo! I’d been waiting to hear those words all season! <BR> We scurried over on the traverse to the ridge, then hit the short hike to the top. There was the usual crowd of a few kids training on the kickers, but aside from their landing zone, the vast terrain on the north side was untracked! I gave E first dibs and she dove in and cranked out some great turns. It was tough to sit there with the video camera in front of all that untracked, but I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. I skied down to join E below and the snow was great. We had on the CMH fat skis and they were right at home. This powder wasn’t the up in your face all over you kind of stuff, it was just pleasant untracked with no bottom. With the fat skis in fact, we only sank in a very few inches. After the first pitch, E took off and didn’t stop; just turn after turn after turn after turn until we were somewhere in the distant lowlands behind the ridge. After going for what seemed like forever, I finally spoke up and said “That must be what heli-skiing is like!” to which E replied “That’s what I was thinking!” We finished off in the flatter areas near chair 3, and caught a ride back to the main base. It actually takes a combination of 2 different rope tows, and 2 double chairs to make another lap, but it’s worth it! <BR> In about 30 minutes, we found ourselves back atop the ridge again ready for another run. This time, I wanted to traverse out along the ridge for a bit and hit some of the steep terrain I’d been lusting after all season. There was a packed traverse heading our along the ridge, and I knew we weren’t the first ones out there. Still, I thought, “What are the odds that someone would take the one line I had been thinking of for the past 3 weeks?” Granted, it was a killer line, about 35-40 degrees, 20 feet wide and nicely open before it dissolved into the conifers below. I had looked down on it many times as we passed by and headed reluctantly down the other (south) side of the ridge. You could tell the wind came across that ridge and just laid the snow right in there. James and Dave et al, if you’re out there reading this you know the one I mean ;). As we approached the top of the line, I feared the worst as I saw tracks heading in that direction, and told E to hold up while I checked it out. If it was tracked I was coming back to hit a different line. I got to the top of the line and my fears were realized. Not only had someone nabbed first tracks on my line, but they’d taken a leak and left a big piss stain right in the snow at the top of the run! Oh man! Now that’s marking some territory! There was of course still plenty of great snow in there, but I wanted some fresh “WHITE” snow for video. I shuffled back to E with the news and we set up for a different shot. I don’t have any complaints, the line we finally hit was probably just as good, but you know how it is when there’s a line you’ve been eyeing for so long. Below the steeps, we took some nice different lines along the edges of trails and through sparse woods, another great run. With that, we called it a day and headed home. Maybe we would come back tomorrow for a couple more laps, but it was too soon to tell. <BR> On Sunday, we eased into the day and I got cranking on some of the final segments of our ski video. It looked as though we wouldn’t be heading out to ski, E was thinking of heading in to work for a bit, and I could really make some headway on the video. However, a twist of fate changed things. We were working on a segment with some snowboarding in the video, when E suddenly recalled that she had not really snowboarded in powder. It didn’t take us long to realize what had to be done. In 14 minutes we were on our way to Lost Trail with snowboard gear. <BR> We found ourselves atop the ridge again (I don’t even want to start on what a pain in the entire butt it is to traverse across flats with those snowboards). The winds had picked up and changed the snow consistency atop the ridge, and although there were more tracks on the trails now, there was plenty of pow. It was my first day on my board for the season, and my first day snowboarding in powder in what must be 3 years. What seemed like 4 inches of snow yesterday in our fat skis was in fact 2 feet deep when our boards decided to nose in and drag us down. Who knew? After extricating ourselves a few times, we started to get the hang of boarding in the powder, it was a blast of course once you got going, but the slope ended all too soon and we had to finish in the flats. Snowboard hell, that’s what I have to say about the flats. All those flats were a lot of work for a few good turns on the boards, I think that this route is not really optimal snowboard territory. We finished off with a quick run off the handle tow to try to get a few more powder turns, but the slope was just a bit too flat. Oh well, there’s always next weekend. <BR> <BR>Images from this report (4 images) can be viewed at the following address: <BR><A HREF="http://www.uvm.edu/~jsilveir/09FEB02.html" TARGET="_top">http://www.uvm.edu/~jsilveir/09FEB02.html</A> <BR> <BR>J.Spin
Jay Silveira
 
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