There's No Such Thing As Bad Snow Conditions!
Posted: 01/19/11 | By Daniel
While the skiing and snowboarding were good at both resorts this past holiday weekend I opted for a quieter line. Something new, that required a little navigation, some sweat and a gorilla-esque turning style.
This time of year we're lucky to have enough snow and good weather for a ski tour in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. By luck I mean the gift of skinning straight from the car rather than hiking a few miles in ski boots with our planks on our back. Warm temps and soft snow promised we wouldn't get too far so we decided against a tour of San G proper for a much closer ascent of Grinnell Mountain. We quickly worked up a sweat and stripped down to T-shirts. The snow, heavy and wet, had the consistency of mashed potatoes but we climbed steadily, gaining a vantage point that overlooked the chutes we spied from HWY 38. To our disappointment, they looked thin. The veil of snow barely concealed the chute's rocky faces. But our frustration was fleeting and we turned our attention to a much closer pitch to ski.
A small highpoint protruding from the Grinnell's ridge was now our target. We continued to ascend, crisscrossing faded tracks of something big, perhaps a lumbering bear or stealthy mountain lion. We found a lofty spot for a bite before removing our skins, locking down our heels and pushing off.
The snow grabbed at our skis and we hacked up numerous pristine slopes in efforts to descend. Six inches of slop guaranteed our turns weren't pretty but we did our best. We resorted to now dated turning techniques such as stem Christies and power wedges. We launched over downed logs and skidded on rocks disguised as moguls, sparks flying from our metal edges.
It was brutal but we skied it. It reminded me of a quote my favorite ski instructor Kristof is fond of saying: "There is no such thing as bad snow; you just don't know how to ski it." Collectively we survived a two hour descent with conditions that could be described as cruel, heinous and even vindictive. But over beers in the parking lot, we agreed with Kristof and decided it wasn't the snow.
Earning my turns,