Leading up to Wednesday of this week I was waking up every morning with a sore throat, achey, and generally in sick-mode. As soon as I heard the Sierras would be getting some decent snow mid-week I put all that behind me and focused on getting some good turns in before the holiday. I drove to Kirkwood to meet up with my friend Eric and get a day of skiing in at the mountain. Snowpack levels here in the Tahoe have been startlingly low all season. Up until this day, the top of Kirkwood was wind scoured, bare and the mid-mountain and base were barely covered with a paltry 23 inches, dominated by volcanic death cookies, weeds, and other unsavory blights for skiers. Tuesday night had dumped a promising foot and a half and I arrived bright and early to clear skies and no crowds.
The early part of the day Eric and I tried to conserve our bases as much as possible from massive destruction. Kirkwood’s famous rare earth is the consistency of geodesic boulders dipped in razor blades and one bite from a hidden snow shark can lead to UBD (ultimate base destruction.) We spent the morning skiing the same terrain as the other 50 other people there that day which quickly got tracked out, rocky and generally sketchy right quick. Kirkwood is still running on limited terrain open and only 1 chair that runs to the summit. During lunch we considered our options and talked about all the other potential, though not easily accessible lines that must be covered enough to execute. Then, Eric the Magician pulled the ace out of his sleeve, the rabbit at once came forth from the top hat on the black velvet table: he had two sets of avie gear in his truck.The snowpack on the upper mountain was consolidated and stable, but definitely wind loaded in the chutes that make Kirkwood so famous, therefore a wooded shangri la it would be. Once we got geared up at the truck we rode the lift to the summit and skied down to mid mountain and cut skier’s left across the huge bowl tat makes up the headwall. To access the line we wanted we couldn’t travel though other closed terrain, however, Kirkwood patrol is very forgiving in how they close off sections of the mountain. We got into position where we would hike a spine between two chutes up about 750 vertical feet.


Eric in position to start the hike up the spine


The views of the Sierras were pretty epic with the afternoon light


Eric with the fingers behind him, THE GNAR!!!!!!


Decent place to spend a Wednesday afternoon, I guess


We made it to where we could traverse over into the trees and reap lots of fresh turns, it was very worth it, oh yeah!


We were going on pure speculation that the turns in the trees would be worth the effort. We hiked for about an hour, in varying conditions, me in my alpine boots and Eric in his AT boots. Big thanks to Eric for breaking trail which was no small chore that day. I offered to lead for a while, but ERic found that when the smaller guy breaks trail, the bigger guy just ends up punching through his boot pack creating a Sisyphus-ian effect.

Once we traversed and looked down the beautiful untracked line with incredibly aesthetic trees all around, we knew we had found our Shangri La for the day. The turns weren’t the deepest or most epic, but they were turns that we found for our own and nothing tastes so sweet as reaping what you sow. And that takes some burliness!