Today felt like a blast from the past… well at least the somewhat recent past of the 2012-2013 ski season. With a silent Timberline Quad, luxurious untracked powder on the slopes, and fat skis on the feet, it was just like being back in December. That second half of December was one of the best stretches for ski conditions this season, and it was the early date combined with some mechanical issues on the Timberline Quad that left the Timberline area the realm of those earning their powder turns. Now we’re on the other end of season, and as it begins to wind down we find that the Timberline Quad isn’t running every day. So it’s back to earning Timberline turns, but with a more established base of snow, and a lot more sunshine.
At some point earlier this week I realized that the Timberline Quad wasn’t running, so with some extra time this morning, I made my way up to Timberline in search of powder. Our storm earlier in the week produced a nice resurfacing dump with about a foot of synoptic density snow, and it’s been followed up over the past couple of days by some dry fluff to really top that off for some primo powder skiing conditions. Skies were clear this morning, with temperatures in the mid teens as I pulled into the Timberline lot, and the sun was just trying to break the ridge that marks the top of the resort to the east. There were a couple cars in the parking lot and I could see tracks on the trails indicating that people had certainly been out taking advantage of the snow. Depth checks at the Timberline Base elevations revealed anywhere from 12 to 15 inches of powder above the subsurface, although I tended to get reading in the 10 to 12-inch range higher up where the wind may have pushed the snow around at some point. The main skin track today was up Showtime, and it took a somewhat unconventional route right up the gut of the trail because it was made in someone’s descent track. It was quite a good track though, well packed and devoid of any footprints. I saw about a dozen tracks from other skiers that had descended in the Showtime area, but untracked lines were still quite plentiful.
All was quiet when I arrived at the Timberline Mid Station, although I eventually saw a couple of snowboarders and skier getting on with their descents. One of the lift operators showed up and began to prep the mid station area for use, and when I asked him about the upcoming schedule for Timberline, he said that it was opening back up tomorrow. That is of course a bittersweet occurrence – it means that we can get lots of Timberline runs, but gone are the runs of endless powder day after day. I figured that at least I’d made it in time to catch “Club Timberline” mode.
I poked around over at Spell Binder, and it looked good, but I ultimately chose Showtime for the descent because that seems to be a bit harder to come by. Another aspect of the day that reminded me of December was the fact that all the west-facing headwalls appeared to be filled in nicely, without the usual scouring that can accompany a westerly wind – there must have been some easterly component to the wind during our most recent nor’easter. The Showtime Headwall looked like it had been treated nicely by the storm, so I dropped in with the confidence that I wasn’t going to hit anything below the snow. I pushed hard into those steep turns on the headwall, and the powder pushed right back, cushioning each movement of my skis with a snowpack of ever increasing density. The turns were so silky smooth and buoyant that I have to give the conditions at least a 9 out of 10. It really was utter perfection in terms of snow quality; with the only thing one could ask being perhaps some deeper champagne and a bunch of face shots. After one quick stop I rattled off turns down the rest of the run, with a cadence that lingered in my head long after I was done.
I really wished that E and the boys could have been there, because the scene reminded me exactly of an outing we had back on December 28th. The sun was out and the snow was great, and I know that they would have loved it. I drove away thinking about how I was going to describe the skiing to E. It turned out that it wasn’t going to be that difficult; because little did I know at time, I was actually going to be right back on those slopes again at the end of the day…