In my view, pebble wrestling season doesn't begin until the spring corn snow has been skied and skied again. What's so special about spring skiing? Although slush-moguls certainly have their place, I am not a big fan of tracked-out ski-resort moguls. More interesting are the avalanche slopes in the high peaks that become stable, safe, easy and fun after they've been nicely sintered by the sun. Steep(ish) terrain with corn that's untouched by the lift-serviced gaper hordes makes short fall-line turns easy.
The plan was to do a long 16 mile loop in the Dacks. Saturday was a traveling day, with stops at two or 3 shops to buy gear. Steve(?) at Rock and Snow was nice to us, digging out some Swix Universal Quick Klister from storage after the season was already over. More on that later, though!
After dinner at Ausable, we finally got to the South Meadows road as it was getting dark, packed up and made it in to Marcy Dam a bit after 11 PM. We skinned circles around in the dark for quite a while trying to find more than two lean-tos: the first was packed full of sleeping people, and the second was full of less people and their dogs. The dogs heard the swish-swish of our skis climbing skins and started barking before we were in sight.
I'd been told that Marcy Dam is kind of a zoo, and this was the confirmation. We thought about heading over the bridge to look for more sites, but eventually just kept heading up the trail. I was nervous that we hadn't carried a tent, but putting some distance between ourselves and the zoo, we found another place that we had to ourselves. Sweet! Beer-thirty!photo 1
The next morning, it was warmer than expected, and snow was already softening by 9:30AM. We went up Colden via Lake Arnold. Here's Colden from the secondary summit; note the boot ladder up high on the face. photo 2
On the summit a little after 11, ice was already tinkling off of trees. There had been a snow-to-rain storm that weekend, and there was about a 1-2mm glaze of sun/rain crust on top of the cake. I skinned onto it to see how it felt. It was soft, and just broke up and dinner plated away. It'd be no problem to ski. photo 3photo 4
We dropped into a nice slide (no pictures at the moment sorry) which had softened nicely and showed no evidence of even the slight glaze I'd detected on the other side of the summit. Perfect mashed potato turns, swish-swish-swish. The snow had settled nicely and skis weren't sinking in at all. With a locked heel, I could easily have skied this stuff on skis rather shorter and skinnier; there were no avalanche worries here. Which is good, because The Lisa had forgot her shovel and probe. Not that I really wanted to carry such stuff anyway.
At the bottom of the slide, we tried out the Universal Klister from toe to heel underfoot, approximating the kick zone of an XC ski. It accomplished absolutely nothing for grip. Snow wasn't just softening, it was melting, and even in the shade the snow was soft. We tried again and coated the entire ski tip to tail. Still pretty much nothing. We shuffled along for a while and eventually just gave up and put skins back on, which we left on all the way across the lakes until the top of Avalanche Pass.
Skinning along in a really pretty, high altitude pine barren type area. I'm on an old set of skis and boots here, but the Dynafit bindings are new:photo 5
Avalanche Lake was softening as well:photo 6
After the pass we were able to take skins off and enjoy a nice downhill all the way back to our leanto (where we collected our heavier overnight packs) and on to Marcy Dam. This section of trail skis really well, pretty easy even with a heavier pack.
More pics coming, if they ever show up in my inbox...