29 March 2012

Peter Grubb Hut Ski Trip

You know the cliche: when it rains, it pours? Well, we've been having a severely dry winter up until three weeks ago. Then it started pouring. And it's been that way every since. 

Rain here brings a smile to my face, and not because of the positive ions. Rain down here means snow up in the Sierras. And it couldn't have come at a better of time. 

Flash back to November, when K made reservations for the Peter Grubb Hut near Donner Pass (NW of Lake Tahoe). There are a few huts in the Tahoe area and reservations fill up quickly for winter weekends. K was able to make reservations for Sunday through Tuesday. The timing lined up with Spring Break, and seasonally usually means good snow and longer days. 

Flash forward to the Saturday prior to our trip. It was raining here, snowing up there. Not just snowing, but dumping. Multiple feet per day of fresh snow. I don't think we would have gone on this trip had this giant storm system not come through. 

Our trip was a great success. I can't thank K enough for organizing this trip, and B for flying half way across the country to join us, and E for being E. 

Peter Grubb Hut.
A few notable things from this trip:
  • We didn't have a map or GPS. This is pretty standard for me. However, we were trying to find the hut in a near whiteout snow storm, which covered most snow tracks. Using our memory and a few navigation techniques, we got pretty close to the hut. Eventually we resorted to using our iPhone which showed the location of us, the trial, and the hut. It was almost too easy. Of course, this is not something to be relied on. But still, it's amazing!
  • The Peter Grubb Hut is really well designed and in a fantastic location. However, the enjoyment of your trip is related to many things out your control, mostly weather (in our case: snow!) and hut-mates (in our case: a huge group with several snorers)
  • While skiing on day two, we met Louise, a 70 year old woman who was backcountry skiing by herself. She is an incredibly athletic, accomplished person that was kicked our butts up and down the mountain! 
  • Louise mentioned the Tahoe Vertical Challenge.  This is a fairly new website where backcountry skiers can log how much vertical they ski each day. In addition to building the backcountry skier community, it also benefits the Sierra Avalanche CenterAlpenglow Sports has agree to donate a certain monetary amount for each foot of vertical recorded. As of today, skiers have logged 5.5 million feet! That sounds great, but it's still a far way from the target of 15 million feet. So if you ski, snowboard, or snowshoe in the backcountry, please sign up at TahoeVertical.com and start logging your activities!
All smiles on the way in . . . until we got lost in a white out. 

E. skiing along Castle Ridge

We started the second day with avalanche transceiver practice. This was B's first time using a transceiver, or backcountry skiing for that matter, but you would never be able to tell! 

B. on her way up. 

We had to quickly adjust our group photo as my camera, on a 10-second timer, started tilting downwards. 

Discussing our options.

Who wouldn't be happy here?

And this is why we do it! E. getting in some great turn on her tele skis. 

Our day: skin up, ski down. Repeat. 

Winds were supposed to be gusting 70-100 mph. I don't know how it didn't wipe the smile off of B's face!

You can see the snow whipping across me.

Taking cover behind a tree while planing our descent. 

My favorite photo. 

They keep coming back for more.

We followed Louis' advice to find the best powder. It was worth the extra climb.

Sporting our Berghaus Velum Smock (l) and Jacket (r).

The hut one morning after a good snowfall. 

We dug a snow pit to test the snow layers. E. Measured the snow depth at almost 2 meters, which is quite low for us.
How many people can we fit in this snow pit?

E. isolating a column of snow with her Black Diamond Saw.

K. thought she'd bring home an snow block.

Last descent of the trip and it's coming down hard!

B. - a natural rock star.

Second favorite photo. More subtle.
Do we have to go home? 

*     *     *     *     *
1 Year Ago: Southern France
Published photo essay: Argentina's Lake District
2 Years Ago: Bogota, Colombia

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