by Jerry Vessello
Today was the first day of real time on AT gear. Jon Wiener and I skied Bennett Pass to seek some easy downhill as well as tour. Jon is truly an expert alpine skier, but generously accompanied me on something not at all challenging for him. I also played with the Gaia software, using it a bit for way finding and recording our route. I have included a map, our route is in Teal, about 6 miles and 1,000 feet of vertical. The base map is the National Geo trail map. Gaia gives you several choices and you can overlay several, including avalanche risk and slope angle.
Today promised to be the best of the week, sunny skies after fresh snow, and it delivered. Snow definitely got heavier as we descended but quite nice for most of vertical in our runs. Unfortunately it will not be as nice for a while as it ages and temperatures rise. Avalanche risk was minimal due to slope angles and nothing above us, but we had our transceivers, probes and shovels. The trail is multi-use, and we saw some people loading 3 snowmobiles when we arrived, otherwise we did not see or hear any. There were several people with snow shoes, several AT skiers, and lighter gear tourers, but the area is big, so we only ran into them in passing. The trail looks down onto Teacup, and we have both been curious about skiing between the two, but there is this problem called Hood River, so we aborted that goal when the snow got heavy as we descended, since it wasn’t going to happen anyway. As far as first time on AT gear, (except for the 3 turns I did with many of you when you weren’t looking in December,) I found myself trying to do tele turns, particularly to the left, that being even more of a problem on the first run since I forgot to lock my boot cuffs, which isn’t so critical on tele, but seemed to be really important on AT gear. After locking and the first run, the natural inclination to tele diminished. You can see on the map that we didn’t start by taking the main Bennett pass trail, but instead traveled up the backside of the ridge until we connected again with the main trail. Neither of us had taken that road in the past, so it seemed like a good idea There are many places along the main trail where you can drop down into well spaced trees on various slope angles, another place to see if you haven’t been there! The trail leads to the notoriously famous Terrible Traverse which is further along on the trail that we skied today. It was a very fun day, and got me much more receptive to trying AT some more!