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Kirkwood, CA 12/14/19

Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:33 am

This is the third year in a row that I have made a December one-day trip to Kirkwood, almost 180 miles from home. I had a narrow window between my wife’s ?0th birthday on Friday and working at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, but wanted to attend Kirkwood Deep event as I entered photo I took of my son at Kirkwood last Dec. into contest and they couldn’t tell me if I was up for a prize and you had to be present to win. I had two friends who committed to going, but it looked like both of them were bailing on Friday; one due to an old shoulder injury from falling on ice and the other from his Dad being in hospital from breaking his femur. But his Dad said to go and and after staying with his Mom who lives a couple of miles from me and can’t be left on her own for too long, we were on the road about 5:45. The last 20 miles were very icy so it was almost 10 when we loaded Chair 7. We skied it once to warm up as it my friend’s first run of the season. Kirkwood reported 8” new (5 overnight and 10 in last 48 hrs.) and it was cold, breezy, but clearing. Next, we took a couple of laps on the Reut where I found a little untracked on the edges and in trees, and while fun it did not ski very deep.
My friend near top of Conestoga from Reut. Pyramid Peak and Crystal Range in background
We separated and planned to meet on Cornice after I took a couple of Wall laps while my friend stayed on the Reut. Loading the chair, I heard Backside would open at 11. Snow on the Wall was very good packed powder with a little shallow powder in spots. On my 2nd Wall lap at about 11:30, I saw Eagle Bowl had opened and chair 2 was loading so I skied some untracked wind-buffed powder in Eagle Bowl
Eagle Bowl
and bypassed most of short line on chair 2 as a single. I thought I was too late, but was in about 20th chair for the season opening of Backside. I had three laps in wind-buffed powder where I hardly crossed a track.
Chair 4 aka Backside and Sunrise. The Wave at far left and closed except for Extreme comps Cirque at far right
Patroller before public started unloading from chair 4
Random first skiers of year on chair 4
Next time up I exited Backside via high gully entrance to Thunder Saddle and ended up in One Man Chute. Snow there was deeper and not wind-affected. At the base, I went into very crowded Monte Wolf’s about 1 and was joined my friend (who I’d last seen on chair while I was through steep part of my first Backside run).

I took a short break while my friend wanted to sit longer so I did a Wall lap and told him I’d meet him on the Reut. I looked into Notch Chute, but the 50’ high near vertical (but mostly snow covered) entrance made me think it was too early to maybe end my season so I skied around the back and had to take off skis to cross about 100’ of windswept rocks to get into Corner Chute area of Wagon Wheel Bowl. Snow was good although not very consistent; some 6” deep untracked and some windswept that made me feel I was getting a little tired. (At the end of the day, I realized I’d re-tightened always trouble right boot at end of break while leaving top two buckles on left boot undone.) My friend was waiting patiently at the Reut and after riding up with him, I took Waterfall which had most been overlooked and held a few untracked turns. I finished my day with four laps on Cornice; first taking Sentinel which had very nice packed powder with my friend, then taking one of my favorite lines starting on Olympic, then cutting towards near cliffs by Lookout Janek, then twice taking mostly gravity traverse to some untracked in Palisades. I quit at 3:30 with just over 20K.

We went into Red Cliff Lodge via back door and I quickly saw my picture was not one of three selected for voting. Their was a long line coming up stairs that a staff member said we should get in to get swag, but we stayed between entrance doors and headed straight for the 10-Barrel swag and food as soon as they released the line. The had quite a spread for their free party including cheeses, meat, veggies, mushrooms, hot artichoke dip, chicken wings, mini tacos and eventually dessert. We each had a 10 Barrel, a lot of food and I saved a few cookies for later and were on the road home shortly after 5. Even though we had a lot of slow vehicles to contend with on the 2-lane road, with only a quick stop for a stretch before getting on freeway near Stockton, we were home in three and a half hours.

Re: Kirkwood, CA 12/14/19

Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:31 pm

looks incredible. How often have you seen full coverage like this in December?

Have you skied Heavenly this season yet?

Re: Kirkwood, CA 12/14/19

Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:51 pm

December 2010 and December 2012 were better than this one.

This one is shaping up great at Mammoth, Kirkwood and Mt. Rose but the lower you go below 8,000 the worse it gets. The real mystery to me is why Headwall and Granite Chief at Squaw remain closed.

Re: Kirkwood, CA 12/14/19

Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:06 pm

Left out in OP is that Lookout Vista T-bar ran on 12/14 which Kirkwood probably considers 110% open and is very early for that. Surprised they have staffing for it.

I went back to Kirkwood today. Some good windsift on top of new snow from Sn and maybe Mon. Not sure when I will be able to post report.

My plan is Heavenly tomorrow, but it depends on if wind affects lifts. It would be nice to drive ~1 mile vs 34 to Kirkwood where I will probably go on way home on Thurs.

Re: Kirkwood, CA 12/14/19

Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:53 pm

How far away do you thin Mott Canyon is from opening?

Re: Kirkwood, CA 12/14/19

Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:55 am

Mott was open on Tuesday. Heavenly says 124” YTD.

Coop on Lake Tahoe TV said Chutes at Rose have opened and heard somewhere that so has Granite Chief at Squaw.
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