Vail had some decent snow in the past couple of days, and I had not been there this season, so I decided to take a long ski day and drive the extra distance, coming back after traffic had dissipated.
I knew the lift lines would be long (weekend, powder day, pro snowboard competition), so I brought my backpack and skins, and decided I'd just hang out in the far reaches of the Back Bowls in relative solitude, ski down and skin back up.
Holy Cross from Vail Mountain:
After making the long traverse from the tiny Cascade parking lot on the west side of town, I ended up on the far southeast side at the bottom of the bowls on the runout, which is groomed every night. I skinned up on this part of the time, but moved over onto the side below some of the rolling hills where I couldn't be seen from above.
It was a spectacular sunny day. I kept a very easy pace, stopping for pictures and sips of water, and just generally enjoying the solitude. I had only one skier pass me on the road the entire time.
Shortly after leaving the road, looking back I could see the Tenmile Range and the hill on the right, which I rode over last summer on this outing.
Looking up towards the top of Outer Mongolia:
On the steeper parts I had to do kick turns, and generally tried to keep out of the remaining untracked areas. I was hoping a couple of lines would still be left after I finally got to the top. I was getting a little tired. But, amazing day and views.
Peeking over the other side briefly, from the top:
Ascent stats were distance: 1.87 miles, time: 2:08, elevation gain: 1,463 feet, and the top of my ascent was 11,802 feet. It's good to have a benchmark on performance in case I ever do a skimo race. I need practice.
The ascent was also not even remotely worth all the effort, as the snow was heavy, firm, and covered with a few inches of crust that gave way after some resistance. I skied about as badly as I had all year on that descent, couldn't carve turns to save my life. For that matter, afterwards I could barely ski cat tracks, let alone the slippery bumps covered with sun-firmed snow, and couldn't maintain any kind of grace or control. Ugh. A far cry from how I felt in Aspen last week. But the snow was better then and I was probably less tired.
At least it was a great workout on a mild bluebird day!
Afterwards I headed to Edwards to revisit the Gore Range Brewery to see if they'd gotten their license to brew. They had. Nice IPA, and wit. Great brisket sandwich with swiss cheese on pretzel bread (!), with au jus and a side of slaw, which has sort of a sweet and sour/Asian edge.
The drive back at 7:30 PM was uneventful and traffic was pretty much back up to posted speeds after the ski rush.
Distance was 29.01 miles, time 6:44 (moving 3:50), elevation gain/loss 13,727 feet, avg. speed 4.3 mph, and max speed 32.0 mph.