First Days on the Mountain
It's not surprising that I found myself in Whitefish Montana for my first two days of skiing in the '20-'21 ski season.
The forecast wasn't calling for anything special in terms of snowfall, maybe an inch or two - the standard overnight refresh - certainly nothing to write home about. It was my first day on my Black Crow Anima's with the Salomon Shift bindings and wow, game changing. The weight, or lack thereof, was incredible. I'm quite sure the pair of Black Crows weighs as much as one of my Bentchetlers with the Marker Duke. Safe to say, I'm glad I made the investment last March to find a lighter setup. Enough talk about skis...on to the snow and the skiing...
Ok, maybe a quick photo of my skis because they are awesome.
Dust on crust would be the best descriptor of the snow conditions for both days. The ~8" crust layer was solid enough to where you wouldn't break through, keeping you safely above rocks and dirt. The dust on top was a high quality layer of cream cheese, making it well worth the tour up to ski. This cream cheese layer was persistent above ~4500ft, but below that was a different story; think more frozen chop, similar to driving on the rumble strips on the highway.
On day one, we skied the Ptarmigan Bowl and didn't have an issue skiing in the "trees" that are scattered about on the skiers left, directly beneath Chair 1. The bottom half was rock solid, no layer of cream cheese to soothe the early season chop created by the usual November freeze-thaw cycle. I found out that the Black Crows really don't prefer the chop. The lighter construction, combined with the lighter bindings, bounces around quite a bit more than the heavier setups I'm used to.
Day two was almost a clone of day one, but instead we toured up to the T-bar area. Snow was falling on and off during the tour up, a simple reminder of the season to come. It was quite calming to be out in the mountains with friends and taking our time touring up to ski, and very nice to not have responsibilities for a few hours. We ended up skiing off the T-bar and over to Evan's Heaven, one of my favorite zones at Whitefish to ski. The snow was dreamy, that wonderful layer of cream cheese. It was really neat to see the mountain with much less snow than I'm used to. There were a couple of features that we ski over easily mid-winter that right now look downright ridiculous to ski, but when there is ~100"+ of snow everywhere, like there is in February, I guess everything looks a little easier to ski. There were quite a few people touring or hiking up as we were headed down, everybody taking advantage of the liberal pre-preseason policy at Whitefish. With opening day coming up on December 10th, it's already shaping up to be a great season in Montana.
Thick cloud bank on Big Mountain, scattered sun in the valley
More updates to come this week as I start to venture around Washington and find some safe areas to tour and ski.
As a side note, I've been sending out some prints over the past few weeks. They've been coming out incredibly well! Somewhat of a shock to me as I am still learning the process and figuring out how to make it the best it can be. Take a look in the shop and email me with any questions on sizing, pricing, and lead times! (More photos are available, but may not shown in the shop; find them here)
Cheers and stay safe!