Monday, October 31, 2011

TR: Pico 10/30/11

Remember when I said that the recent snowfall wasn't quite enough for an early season turn-earning session? I lied.

We got a late start after Saturday night Halloween festivities, finally rolling out of the house around 9:30. We just wanted to head up to the Killington area, decide if we wanted to pay for a ticket or not, and have a lazily awesome opening day. We did a little recon at Pico on the way by, checked the snow depth, scanned the ski tracks looking for deep gashes down to dirt, etc. We needed supplies anyway, so we pressed on towards Killington. After a quick stop at the deli for sandwiches and water, we pulled into the dropoff area for the K base Lodge, and I was already not feeling it. There were a lot of people milling around, there was a cattle line at the Gondola, and looking up the mountain, there was a steady stream of people going towards the North Ridge Triple. And when I say "steady", I mean "neverending".

We got the hell out of there. The parking lot at Pico was a ton better. There were a couple chill guys coming down that gave us some beta: "a little bit of everything". Sounds like fun.

We started hiking while the clouds were still sticking around.  The skin track was sweet:

The hiking was easy and fun.  In the picture above, you can see that the upper mountain blacks were in "questionable" shape.  We hiked all the way up to the point where the high grass started.  Did I mention it was easy?

And fun?

Yeah, I was rocking the stache (left over from my Halloween costume).  It took us an hour and a half to get up to that point just below the top.  After that, the fun started.  Sorry I don't have any sick action shots.  I was just having too much fun skiing.  Here's what the snow was like:

It was freaking great.  I don't know if it's because we were all rocking fat skis, or because we followed some sage advice to stick to the mellow blue square pitches, but none of us bottomed out at all.  After tooling around for a while, we headed down.  Here's a semi-action shot:

The untracked stuff was fine as long as you had enough speed to get your skis to plane, enough power to be able to move your skis where you wanted them, and enough ability to make the necessary balance adjustments for the snow and occasional water bars.  Simple!

The whole day was really fun.  We saw a bunch of mellow people, a lot of dogs, and a few hardcore kids (9-10 years old, I'd say) with their parents who hiked all the way up to where we were (and then skied tele down!).  And if you hadn't noticed, the sun came out:  

We finished with a couple of beers on the deck (I had some Keystone Light left over).  Perfect end to a perfect day:

As you might have noticed, I played with the color saturation on these pictures, so they kind of look like Technicolor.  I thought it was fitting because the whole thing was kind of surreal.  All those people crowding Killington, and this (relatively) untapped Shangri-La was right down the road.  Crazy.  Not only that, as we drove through Rutland, and back to the ADKs, we went from the deep snow depths of winter to the leaf covered grass of fall.  There wasn't any snow on the ground at all by the time we got back to Queensbury.  The only signals we had from the official beginning of the 2011/2012 ski season were the droplets of water on our skis and the pictures on our cameras:


  1. Nice one! Pico was a great call - sounds like you had enough snow to make it work. That's a mountain I want to ski.

  2. Wow, that is one well-established skin track. Sounds great, except for the Keystone Light part: coudln't you have picked up some Long Trail Ale?

  3. Haha, it was left over from the costume. It was pretty bad, but I had a couple of Switchbacks with dinner to realign my Chakra.