On Sunday January 8th, our determined BITS group decided to brave the cold and do some skiing in the Healy Pass area. Our goal for the day was to learn a bit about traveling in the backcountry, with the potential bonus of enjoying some nice views along the way.
Throughout the day we looked for pieces of information on weather, snowpack, etc. to help us make decisions. Our first observation happened while signing the waiver. The first pen quit working and all of the signatures were a bit shaky. We all agreed that cold was going to be our biggest hazard for the day. Even knowing that, it was a surprise to see the thermometer at -25C as we climbed through the trees. That’s not quite as much mercury as we were expecting given the forecast. The rays of sun filtering through the trees were almost reaching us at that point though, so we decided to keep going.
Good thing we did, because we broke through in to an inversion. Now the temperature data from the Sunshine weather station was making a bit more sense. We stopped and had a very comfortable lunch in the sun with a view of the mountains across the valley. It was downright civilized, and from there it only got better. We had a beautiful tour around the pass and the day definitely delivered on the views.
We also had a good lesson in Rockies snowpack problems. Our Mod/Mod/Low conditions didn’t feel too confidence inspiring for stability or ski quality, so we decided to stay on low angle terrain. That ended up working out just fine. We found a few very nice turns in the sun on (mostly) supportive snow before heading back home.
Thank you again to the whole group for a great day out in the mountains.