Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho
Thanks for the help Bob. After going to the class, shopping around in Spokane shops and on the net, reading a lot of stuff on Epic and drawing on my own experience and knowledge of myself I think I will do this (your comments are appreciated):
A ways into season, when I get my legs under me. Will rent skis, bindings and skins for 2 days and venture slowing into BC. There are several "safe" areas where I can take a lift up, ski off into the BC, reach a road and skin back. Thinking this might be a good way to start. After 2 days I think I will have an idea if I will continue. Regret not hiking into some areas this summer b ut to tell you the truth I never even thought about doing it that way until I read your post/suggestions. BC interests me this winter but only on a limited basis due to safety and cost mainly. Late spring BC I really want to do as love to hike, see new places etc. I certainly see your point on Trekkers. I have an old pair of rock skis, Atomic R10's, 165 that I used to teach beginners and ski on early season rollers, they would probably be fine for hiking up and skiing small patches down? Have reg bindings on them but theese would be ok for the hike in the spring, no good for skinning of course. Thanks, if you have time your opinions/comments are appreciated. Pete
I think that's the way to approach it. Those R10's would be just fine for *most* of the snow conditions you might run into in the spring. Probably the biggest issue for you initially will be getting up the hill.If you're hiking up on bare ground to the top of a snowfield
(which I do quite a bit of):
Here, the only thing you have to do is figure out how to get your ski boots to the top. You'll probably walk up in hiking shoes and carry your boots either in your pack or clicked into your bindings. Once you get to the snow, you may be able to walk on the snow if it isn't too steep or too soft/punchy. If the snow is reliably solid, walking up in ski boots is probably the easiest and safest thing to do. Just don't do this on steep, hard, slick snow conditions until you've practiced the whole thing for awhile. If you're walking up on snow:
You'll probably walk in your ski boots. One big issue with this is how solid the snow is. Nothing is more frustrating or exhausting than trying to walk uphill while you're postholing in the snow. That - obviously - is where having skins can really make a difference. If you find yourself starting uphill and you're sinking in very much, I'd call off the expedition. If you're postholing on spring conditions, there's also a fairly high likelihood that the skiing would suck anyway.
That's one of the really cool things about backcountry skiing. You start really learning to pay attention to all the big and little factors that go into determining snow quality. You'll learn about overnight temperatures, clear skies versus cloud cover, inversions, wind, tree cover (the snow around big trees often doesn't freeze as solidly overnight as the snow in open areas), elevation, aspect, the time of day that the sun first shines on a particular area of snow (called "sun hit"), etc. All of these can make a huge difference in how easily you can ascend and how good the skiing is on the way down. They also help determine the safety of what you're doing if you're hiking/skiing areas that are avalanche susceptible.
You'll also learn in that kind of skiing that early, early starts are best. By late April and early May (which is my favorite time for that kind of skiing here in the Tetons), the sun is *up* by about 7:30 in the morning. I usually time my outings to be ready to start downhill an hour to at most two hours after the sun has started shining on a slope. Any later than that and you're likely to get really sloppy skiing and it *might* start getting dangerous from an avalanche standpoint.
The ideal late-spring/early-summer weather is warm, sunny days and cold, clear nights. The more freeze/thaw cycles you have, the better (and safer) the snow will be. You'll be able to travel on the snow more easily when it's frozen and skiing on it is more fun when it's thawing. Just make sure you're not skiing or hiking in the path of avalanches that could start well above you and slide down to where you are.
Another thing that doesn't get mentioned much about late-season skiing is that you can (at least *I* can) have a great deal of fun on very moderate pitches. Often the skiing is so smooth and pleasant that you just feel like you're swooping along over undulating terrain or in and out of the trees. It's truly hero skiing and I can have a ton of fun on a twenty-degree slope in good corn conditions.
There's lots of safe and fun backcountry skiing that you can do in the spring. It's just a matter of getting out there and learning as you go.