Kirkwood, CA 11/27-29/2017

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Kirkwood, CA 11/27-29/2017

Postby tseeb » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:35 pm

I began my season with a powder day on 11/27 for the second year in a row. Last year, I went to Northstar as it was the only Tahoe Vail resort running chairs offering some steeper terrain and had 12" new. This year Northstar has been unable to open due to to lack of snowfall at mid-mountain and temps have been too warm for snowmaking. I was hoping to make it to either Heavenly or Kirkwood last week, but I think they both had some rain for their opening days and every time I looked at early morning Sierra temps, they were above or way above freezing which is not very motivating.

I left San Jose at 5:30 AM, and after about 35 miles of no traffic chain control that began at about 4,000',
At four thousand feet a little after 8 AM
Somebody was parked where it snowed
I turned off CA-88 to Kirkwood at 9 AM. I found an overlooked spot 5 cars from the chair, changed and booted up and walked to Cornice chair which was not loading. I thought about taking a lap on Solitude that began loading earlier but it gives you less than half the vertical and the top half is what you wanted, not the bottom where rain on Sunday had melted a lot of snow. Cornice started loading about 9:45, and after the regular lines emptied, the long singles line I was in also did. At the top I skated to Sentinel and found the bowl only had one track and I quickly skied the 7" new on the left side.
My first run of the season was about 30 turns of untracked
Why did this guy have to wreck my tracks while I was still on hill? I called him on it.
At the bottom, the line was gone and I took 4 more laps with a lot of untracked turns going into different areas of and around Sentinel.
2nd through 5th laps of Sentinel were also good. I don't remember if I can claim tracks coming out of chute between trees at right, but it's possible they were mine.
I moved to Reut chair, which is not high-speed, and seemed to be running a little slow and was dripping as the ice melted off it onto the passengers. I had a couple of good runs far skiers right, but also found a few buried obstacles towards the bottom. I returned to Cornice and took 5 more laps with most of them including a short hike into the corner of Wagon Wheel Bowl.
Snowboarder spraying snow in Wagon Wheel Bowl
What I had to face at 12:30 PM
There was a lot of room for more powder turns and I also found some steep untracked areas. But the upper and middle part of The Drain was as thin as I've ever seen them with a lot of water running through the bottom forcing everyone high on the sides. I only went on the left side of it once then stayed high enough on at least 3 laps to re-join an intermediate run back to the chair.
The drain about 3 PM

After some homemade smoked turkey noodle soup from a thermos at my car, I took two more laps on Cornice. First I took the main groomer to warm-up although I dropped into a steep area to the right partway down. Next run I took hike to the corner which warmed me up, but I struggled getting my bindings back on. Then after some great lightly tracked turns at the top, I struggled a little more and found some obstacles getting back to the bottom. I went to Reut chair and took a couple of laps further skiers right where I put the first and seconds tracks of a knoll below the traverse that goes to not running chair 2. I also skied trees to the right of Waterfall then stayed high above The Drain although I had to hike a little after a nasty then traverse to get back to run. I debated between finishing with the Reut or Cornice and ended up on the Reut, skiing the steep left side of Conestoga. I skied until after 3:30 and had 18 runs and 21.4K according to EpicMix tracking which did not skip any lifts as it would the next two days.

11/28 I thought about going to Mammoth as they reported 12-22" but the drive is four times as long in miles and at least three times as long in time vs. Kirkwood (and I only have two free tickets to Mammoth vs. unlimited at Kirkwood except for blackout days). It turned out to be a good decision as Kirkwood started loading chair 10/The Wall early so I had another day with a lot of untracked.
Last edited by tseeb on Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 11/27-29/2017

Postby tseeb » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:16 am

On 11/28, I gave ride from South Lake Tahoe to Kirkwood and back to Brian Like Pow from He has worked at Kirkwood at least 4 of the the 5 seasons. (He was in the East last season which was not the one to miss.) We started on Cornice and moved to chair 10/The Wall, Kirkwood highest lift when we saw it was loading for the first time this season. We had not expected another powder day and both were on our mid 90s daily drivers plus I had not left much in reserve from skiing 18 mostly powder runs on my first day of the season the day before, but I persevered.

We started our Wall laps in deep day-old untracked skiers left of the main run. Snow was great, but I had my first fall of the season. I was ripping the powder and Brian warned me of a rock band just before I hit one trying to dump speed. I lost a ski then had to go off another (well-covered) rock on one ski to a soft landing that I could feel on collarbone that was broken five months ago. We skied a lot more soft and nearly untracked snow before joining a fast groomer for some rest for the rest of the way down. It was so good that we repeated that run and got to watch some skiers and boarders brave Pencil Chute which must have required a very steep-cliff straight-line exit. (I skied it a few times last year including one day with my son, but that was after about 50' of snow had filled it in.)

We went down E-facing Eagle Bowl, surprised it was open so early in season. It was a little wind-packed at the top and got slightly manky at the bottom, but the majority of it was very consistent and sweet. Brian said it was some of the best snow he'd skied in a couple of years. He took some phone pictures of me that are low-res and I haven't yet asked if he has higher res.

The first one he took of me and next three I took of Brian using my camera.
Towards the bottom we moved left, then right to avoid the worst sun-affected snow, then cut left to wrap around Norm's Nose and skied low-angle untracked NE-facing. I was ready to do it again, and think I did get a few turns into it before traversing and dropping off the other side of the ridge above top of Reut chair on next lap. We also did a couple of other laps including one of the biggest entrances I've ever done off the Wall, especially for Nov. It looks a lot steeper from above.
I repeated Eagle Bowl solo and again found good snow for the top half, then wrapped around Norm's Nose higher and found an area with only one track and good snow.
At some point, much lower on mountain I was skiing an untracked ridgeline where I should have known better and hit a barely covered rock hard. Inspection of my ski during a break at car showed about an inch of base missing along the edge (and was fixed overnight).

After our break at the car, in same spot as previous day, 6-7 cars from lift, we rode Cornice a couple of times, then moved to the Wall for a couple more laps. We down-climbed into Notch Chute and found a weak-looking rope tied to some rocks that I had to grab when I started sliding on way down after lowering my skis off other side of rock. There were very few tracks on the apron below and to the left. We hiked up a few steps to get a little more untracked further left of an in some trees. That was the only time we continued to bottom of the Drain where we were able to get though high on the left side, but a couple of places were very thin. Next time up we skied to the entrance of the Notch Chute, then hiked to the next Chute to the left (after looking into Once is Enough which would have required 200' of 60 degree not quite straight-line). I'd seen people come out of the one we skied, including some kids last year in a clinic that took a while to commit to crossing wind-lip on exit, but had never done it. It was worth the hike although when I was post-holing after looking in a higher entrance I stepped on an unexpected rock and I nearly somersaulted going down while hiking. For the chute, I spotted a steep untracked wall entrance that was good for a couple of turns, then once out of the chute (really a smaller hidden bowl) we skied wider chute (really a run) to the left and cut left far enough as we worked our way down to avoid repeating the Drain.

We were both pretty beat after 8 laps on Wall and 4 on Cornice and the light rapidly fades this late in the year so we called it a day about 3 PM. EpicMix (after I added 4 missing lifts) had me at 18.4K
Last edited by tseeb on Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 11/27-29/2017

Postby tseeb » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:38 am

11/29 Not much to add that is not in post at top of ... ost-171592

Tony Crocker may be interested that EpicMix (after I added missing lifts) said I skied 19,854 vertical feet between 10:10 and 1:45. My watch counted 19,850. On my drive home, I got off at the first Milpitas exit as I-680S was slowing there. I took surface streets to downtown San Jose where I parked about 5:45 and walked a couple of blocks so I was not too late for event that started at 5:30. While it 'only' took me 3 hours and 45 minutes (with two short stops), I will have to leave Kirkwood by 1 or after 4 in the future to avoid the traffic for last 5-10 miles between Milpitas and my exit in San Jose.

Posting same pictures with almost the same comments as I did on pugski
Even though I didn't arrive until almost 10, I got the first parking spot after being at the other end of same row 6-7 cars away my first two days.
I skied 8 laps on fast Cornice lift with a few of them being 12 minute laps. On the last one I did the short hike to Corner Chute where the left side still had a little untracked. Also note the snow quality demonstrated by skier below me two days after the storm ended.
I moved to the long slow Wall lift and had time for sandwich and beer that I'd been carrying during my five laps there. (Note that even though beer is from UT it was over 7%).
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