Winter/Spring 2016 Highlights

As you have probably noticed, it has been a while since we posted on here. I like to think it is because we have been too busy skiing/adventuring/etc, but I was also busy studying for the Professional Engineering Exam in April (which I passed!) and Maggie’s work has been picking up (among other things) so available time for blogging was drastically reduced. I hope to change that moving forward this year. I figure the easiest thing at this point is to just do a quick recap of the winter/spring, so here we go:

December ended up being a very snowy month here in the Northwest and I got lots of good powder days in (see my previous post for a good example). I took an Avalanche Level 1 class with American Alpine Institute up in Bellingham and at Mount Baker Ski Area during the early part of the month to prep for many days of backcountry skiing this season.

We started the New Year off by staying at the Mountaineers Lodge at Stevens and skiing for a few days before going back to work on the 4th. Discovering the Lodge was definitely one of the highlights of the winter. It is the only ski-in ski-out accommodations on the mountain and we were able to get to know a lot of cool people by staying there throughout the winter. It is volunteer run and everyone pitches in by helping out with chores. We also volunteered for 7 Saturdays in January and February with Outdoors for All by teaching skiing to students with disabilities. This was just another way that we built more community at the mountain and was very rewarding (highly recommended!).

I spent an epic MLK weekend at the Stevens Lodge skiing powder with old and new friends. The following weekend we spent a relaxing Saturday evening after lessons at a Gypsy Wagon in Plain, WA to celebrate our 1st anniversary. The skiing was mediocre that weekend so we explored the peaceful snowshoe trails around Lake Wenatchee State Park the next day.

We took a ski trip to McCall, Idaho in late February and had Brundage and Tamarack Mountains to ourselves midweek. Maggie began to explore more off-piste skiing and we even got in a bluebird backcountry powder run off the backside of Brundage. McCall was a really enjoyable mountain town with phenomenal skiing nearby and we would love to go back (or retire there?) someday.

Dave and I hit the old Yodelin Ski Area near Stevens on a Sunday in March perfectly for some epic powder tree skiing and I did my first winter overnighter in the Tatoosh Range at Mount Rainier National Park with my Mountaineers Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering class.

In March and April Maggie began to conquer some of the double-black diamond runs at our Northwest Resorts including International at Alpental, Rock Garden and Big Chief Bowl at Stevens, and Powder Bowl at Crystal. We also got her some new skis with alpine touring bindings, so she could do some spring touring with me. It has been really fun watching her become a better skier and push herself. She even showed me up and tried the pond skim at Stevens’ Springfest ALMOST making it across in her dinosaur outfit (her wipe-out made it into many highlight reels including Powder Magazine’s 2:26 in video).

Andy, Jake, Chris, and I skied from the rim of Mount St. Helens on April 16th down the Worm Flows Route on near-perfect corn for about 4500 vertical feet. I was celebrating completing the Professional Engineering Exam the previous day.

I started the Mountaineers Glacier Ski and Crevasse Rescue Course the following week. It was an excellent course which met every Tuesday evening with optional practice sessions on Thursday for four weeks with a weekend field trip to Paradise at Mount Rainier the final weekend. Unfortunately, I hurt my ankle during self-arrest practice on the first day of the field-trip so I was in the injured group that stuck close to the parking lot on the second day to practice the rescue systems. The rest of the class went out onto the Nisqually Glacier on the second day. I had plans to ski Mount Baker this weekend with some of the instructors and students of the course, but decided it would be best to let the ankle rest instead.

Maggie and I did some ski touring a couple weekends ago at Paradise and we plan to do some more next weekend over the long Memorial Day weekend. It will be a good time to test out my ankle while skiing and fun to get Maggie some more touring experience as well. I am still hopeful that it will be good to go for a Mount Adams ski descent in June along with some other glacier skiing and hiking/backpacking throughout the rest of the summer.

All in all, I certainly can’t complain about this season. I accomplished many goals including: taking an Avalanche Level 1 class, skiing over 30 days (I’m at over 40 and the season is not over!), skiing Mount St. Helens, taking a glacier travel/crevasse rescue course, and taking and passing the PE exam! Although I still have more ambitions for this ski season, it is nice to look back at all that I have accomplished so far. It has also been fun to watch Maggie improve and push herself as a skier.

 

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