Savoring the Super Snowpack @ Kirkwood

Casey Cane | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

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With over 500 inches of year to date snowfall on the upper mountain of Kirkwood, I was curious to see how my usual stomping grounds fared with all this snow. Would my usual ski line even be there? Upon arrival, the weather had stunningly blue skies and yet a consistent Eastern wind that was visible on the ridges.

After the ‘getting the kids gear on struggle’ at the car and a few warmup laps with y daughter, I began my day on Chair 6, headed straight to the Funnel but found wind-stripped bulletproof on the steepest aspect. However, after a hundred feet or so below the ridge, the wind was absent and the snow was more mid-winter packed powder. The Fingers were fun but they are so small now…as in buried. Shortly thereafter, I notice that Chair 10 was finally loading so ran over to there to check out the coverage. I found that the wind was ripping up top and over Eagle Bowl into the Buttress. I normally roll into the Wall via the steep pitch above the usual traverse track but found that most of the upper steep pitches entertained the bulletproof layer that the winds created. Of course, I wanted to hit Once Is Enough but figured the snow was variable and I didn’t need a high speed crash, so I passed up the line (made the same decision for Upper Chamoix on Chair 6 earlier).

Lots of ice and avalanche debris down the first few turns on the Wall but found absolutely AMAZING windbuff down the Buttress, center of the Wall down into Waterfall, and All The Way.
Each lap was untracked and refreshed from the wind. It was one of those scenarios where you tell yourself ‘I will do it one more time’ but then you ended up taking 5 laps.

After talking to a patroller on the lift he told me to stick to the Wall…said the snow was weird and hard to ski in the Saddle and not worth the jaunt to the Backside. So after a quick stop for a frothy beverage for lunch, I headed to wander around Chair 6 until it was time to grab the kiddos. Over on the Cornice Chair, I hit up some Chamoix variations, Oops & Poops, Olympic and Dan Cliffs laps. Most of the exposed cliffs in the Oops Face are buried, so now you can ski right through without the worry of exposure.

All in all, I found great snow and fresh landings on Dan Cliffs in the sun…I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

And guess what? It’s still snowing at the time of publishing this article! There may even be another 6 feet of snow by February 23rd, 2017. Oh well, I’ll be in Telluride for ski week…because you know, my snow life is now dictated by my children’s school schedule. Haha.

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No rules apply to early AM Starbucks runs…

No shoes, no problem – Stockton, CA

The sunrise in the foothills was breathtaking…even at 70mph..

Sunrise – Buena Vista, CA

I can see our destination ahead…

Highway 88 – California

And just like that, we are driving through tunnels of snow on the Carson Spur…

Carson Spur, CA – February 12th, 2017

Upon arrival to Kirkwood, we knew it would a pretty darn good day of snow sliding…

Kirkwood Meadows Drive, February 12th, 2017

Thimble Peak and Norm’s Nose looking mighty fine…

Morning ski boot putting on views…

My 5 year old daughter had just enough time to ski a bit with dad…

Grom carves under Chair 5…

I followed the sun and headed into The Fingers…

The Fingers – Kirkwood, CA

It was a gorgeous day to be out in the mountains…

View of Desolation Wildness from Kirkwood…

The wind deposited some fresh layers overnight below The Funnel…

Smooth as butter conditions…

Glove Rock has more snow than I have seen in YEARS…

Glove Rock – Chair 6 – Kirkwood

While waiting for Chair 10 to open, I played around Chair 6…

Oops Spine skiing well…

When the Wall did open, the views from the summit did not disappoint…

Kirkwood Valley…

The windbuff machine on a few aspects of The Wall was on full blast ALL DAY LONG!…

Natural groomer…

The upper portion of The Wall wasn’t the best but easily forgotten and few yards below…

Chair 10 – Kirkwood, CA

DID I MENTION THE WINDBUFF? It definitely was up there as one of the top days of skiing the Buttress…

A skier enjoying himself on The Wall…

View of the coverage of The Fingers and Wagon Wheel Bowl of Chair 6…

Gorgeous day in the mountains…

‘All The Way’ was crazy good due to the natural halfpipe created by the wind..

All The Way – Kirkwood, CA

With the wind resetting the snow on each lap, it was hard not to keep returning run after run…

So fast and oh so fun…

You see what I mean? It was fully bananas for windbuff skiing…

Windbuff glory on The Wall…

However, the wind also ruined a few of the aspects…

The Wall – Kirkwood, CA – February 12th, 2017

It has been a LONG time since I’ve seen Kirkwood look this coated in snow…

Kirkwood, CA – February 12th, 2017

Waterfall Chute has not been this filled in since 2011…

Chuting for fun…

Maybe I should clarify how well The Buttress was skiing…

Oh my! So good…

With all this snow, Secret Chute finally has some optional entrances…

Secret Chute – Kirkwood, CA

Ok, I’ll admit it, I like to carve…the groomers were ridiculous…

Piste warrior in his element…

Before having to grab the kids from JETS, I ended my day on Chair 6 but enjoyed views of Chair 10…

The Wall – Kirkwood, CA – Febraury 12th, 2017

Dan Cliffs still had Cliffs but sadly, no Dan to be found…

Dan Cliffs – Kirkwood, CA

I was amazed that fresh landings still existed days after the last storm but also not complaining either…

Old guys need some airtime too…

And that’s a wrap, time to drive back to reality over the Carson Spur…

Yes, it snows in California…

You know, there’s something special about driving across California no matter what time of the year…

Happy cows!

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AND THERE’S MORE SNOW ON ITS WAY…

Snow and more snow for Kirkwood, CA

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