Thursday, March 6, 2014

Piazza's Romney

A tiny Nick on the summit of Kessler

Every so often I break free from my mon-fri, 9-5 job that I feel is getting me nowhere. Today was such a day. I managed to acquire some overtime earlier in the week that let me leave at 2:30. Just enough time for a larger ski day if I push it.

Court was being a little girl and was whining about his legs being too tired and having to play futbol with Alejandro and Pedro tomorrow so he bailed on me around 10 am. Nick came through for me and agreed to meet me at Argenta around 3. After shuttling a car up to Cardiac he realized he had left his boots back in Kaysville or wherever he lives. Nick, your boots don't belong in Kayesville. They belong on Kessler. 

He dropped me off at the Mississippian Marble sign and booked it down to nearby Court's house to grab some boots. We agreed to try to meet up after I did a lap on the East Couloir. I summited in 1.5 hours and then went to work preparing to ski my first larger, more dangerous ski line solo.

Untracked East couloir. A gem of a line

Based on my extensive steep ski couloir experience(2) I have found the following system works well for ensuring safe descents while skiing alone in steep avalanche terrain:

1. use your trusty shovel or skis to drop a fat cornice into the couloir. If it avalanches, great! you are set to ski. if it doesn't, great! you are set to ski
2. make sure your beacon is working. if you do die in an avalanche, they still will be able to find your body
3. dig a pit above the couloir and pretend like its representative of what is occurring in the couloir.
4. poke your pole into the couloir and say things like, "oh thats nice and stable".
5. pray
6. do a fat ski cut at the top
7. ski fast

The east couloir was fantastic, didn't avalanche and was as good as I could have asked for. Lots of dense soft snow. I felt lucky to have this thing all to myself. Upon arrival at the bottom, I skinned back up the Catchers Mitt(hence the Mike Piazza/Mitt Romney reference). From the top of the Mitt, it is a clear shot to the summit of Kessler, so after a phone call to Nick and some patient waiting, I saw Nick appear on the summit.

A tribute to Donut Falls (found in bottom of Cardiac) on the top of Catchers Mitt

He proceeded to ski the East couloir and I skied the Mitt. The Mitt has a lot of cliffs, so its imperative to pick your line on the way up so as to not get cliffed out. I found a nice ramp that allowed passage above the 100 ft cliff. As good a linkup as I had imagined it being. We met up halfway down and enjoyed soft turns down into Cardiac, and then pizza pied it out. The Donut Falls road had actually been plowed but the gate was still closed. Luckily a small 2 ski width slushy snow remnant near the bank allowed us to ski to the car right as it got dark.

Nick skiing the East

Enjoying the lower section of Catcher Mitt

Lots of wet slides on the East portion of the Mitt, but the N stuff was splendid

The only line left for me on Kessler is the West Couloir. Props to Nick for making what could have been a 0 star day into a 3 star day for him.

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