Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Library Ski - 1.25.2020

Saturday started as so many of have in the dark, cold, and breezy Huffman Carrs parking lot. And, as usual, we ran into the usual suspects: Brady, Eric, Ryan, and Julie who were headed for Kickstep.

We talked shop for a bit then headed south. At the Tincan parking lot we reunited briefly then they skinned towards Center Creek, while we took the skintrack highway towards Proper. In the sub-zero temps above Hippy Bowl we caught up with a shaggy family of goats having a late breakfast.

I was reminded of the another goat we ran into at Turnagain on a fun day on Kickstep. Coincidentally, the first time I skied Kickstep was exactly five years ago. The other time, if memory serves, Owen said he was "puckered". Concerning.

From the top of Proper we looked down on Brady, Eric, Ryan, and Julie who were steaming up the valley towards Kickstep. We figured that with the right timing we could probably dust em with a bit of slough.

My clammy hands could not be motivated to take pictures on Proper, so here's Josh Wulff surfing Proper on the way to Kickstep back in the day. I remember a fun race with some salty locals to get to the top that day. You can guess who won.

After surviving dust on crust, sloughed out bed surface, alder cliffs, and exploding ptarmigan on Proper we looked up at Kickstep.

Then it was time to break trail up the Library. The skintrack ascending the apron and lower spines was an annoying combination of slippery crust covered by a foot of snow. I later found a few craters next to the skintrack that were shaped suspiciously like Connor and Alex. Eventually we gave up sliding backwards on our skins and switched to booting.

Once on the ridge, the breeze quickly reminded me that it was below zero. Alex picked a nice spine and we watched as giant sloughs released from each turn and rumbled down the gut below. Connor:

At the bottom of our first Library lap we were all stoked for more, and jumped back on our established track for a second lap. Out of the wind, and with the sun finally getting a little higher in the sky, I could not believe how warm zero degrees felt. We were quickly back on top, looking at our tracks from the last lap, and squinting to see the crew on Kickstep.

We could see Brady heroically breaking trail under the gendarme. I really like this spot: when you look between your legs, the first thing that you see is the valley floor 2,000 feet below.

Apparently Brady was extracting himself from a glide crack crevasse here. Bucky has a similar story of falling in one up there and having to walk out the end.

This time we went farther along the ridge. It got sporty and I looked back to see Connor and Alex putting their skis on their backs and helmets on their heads. They stopped on the reasonable side of a large cliff while I clambered around to drop in.

I lost contact with them, but eventually noticed snow tumbling down to my right, figured it was them, and dropped in. There were a lot more cliffs than expected, and I looked back up to find the boys navigating around a bunch of rocks.

Below us there was another cliff that we managed to sneak around, but only after Alex had to take off his skis and boot up and around. After the bonus cliff, things mellowed out into Type 1 spine skiing. The white stuff in the air is snow suspended by the giant slough dragons. Connor:

At the bottom we figured there was time for one more lap and raced the sun towards the top. Remarkably, the sloughs had left so much snow hanging in the air that it was producing halos.

Feeling a little competitive with the heart of our solar system, we beat the sun to the top and basked in the last light of the day.

To the north, Spine Cell was poking above the inversion and looking tasty. We'll get it one of these days. I'd like to ski the peak behind as well.

Everything looked absolutely perfect in the alpenglow. Carpathian:

Connor dropped first into the pink, purple, and gold light:

Then it was Alex's turn to find a line.

Behind Alex are so many great lines, like a fun day we had at the headwaters of Center Creek years ago. I'd still like to ski Tincan Peak too.


I didn't want to destroy Alex with a slough dragon, so waited on top while he worked his way down the spine. To the north the evening light was transitioning from pink to blue.

Once I was relatively confident that I wouldn't whitewash Alex I dropped into my own untouched spine. It was fun zooming over glide cracks and spine pillows in the last light. My doctor recently told me that my torn disk is ready to start cross country skiing for one mile. He didn't give me any guidance on spines though.

As we started to skin back towards the parking lot Alex's skins completely failed. In the negative temperatures I waffled between being thankful that my cold hands weren't fiddling with the non-compliant flaps of plastic faux-fur and attempting to provide some level of moral support. Catching up with Connor we discovered that his skins were failing too. Fortunately those two are unstoppable; thru a combination of one skin-skinning by Connor and five voile straps on Alex's skis we were soon back at the car.

As a last note, here's a picture I took of the Library (and Eddies, Byron, and Carpathian) from Pyramid in 2017.

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