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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Early Season Ski Report

High Park - Early Morning

As usual, Missoulians have been slow to catch on that winter is here, especially above 5,500 feet.  That's fine with all of us, because the ski slopes have been a ghost town, and the snow has been awesome.  In the past week, we've had a few adventures both in and out of bounds, and conditions are improving every day.  All the rain we received in late November and early December fell as snow up high, and although the mid-elevations are still catching up, by next week things should be skiing pretty well from top to bottom at all the area hills.

We haven't been out of bounds up at the Bowl yet, but there's been a steady stream of folks on the skin track. In-bounds has been so good that we haven't been that motivated to hike.  The bowls opened yesterday and we raged it pretty hard.  Ten laps in about 4 and 1/2 hours, pow all the way.  The outrun is definitely challenging.  Coverage is excellent until you get down to about 5400 and the entire mountain is open except for Griz Chute and Longhorn.  Still a lot of obstacles so be on your toes. Having early season rubber legs in the Chicken Chute makes it extra interesting.  I'd advise not drinking and riding, but you probably will anyway;)  Also, when you get tired, take a break. It's not worth losing the rest of your season to get in one more run today.  There's a lot of snow yet to come.

Rob getting nasty in "Chinaman's"
 Just a reminder that avalanche danger can change daily so it's a good idea to check the report at Missoula Avalanche before you head into the backcountry.  Also make sure you have your beacon, shovel, and probe and know how to use them.  Lolo Pass is a great low-risk area where you can make sure your equipment is in order and practice before heading on a trip into more serious terrain.  More and more people have been venturing out of bounds lately, and many of us observed a lot of questionable behavior last year (groups descending all at the same time, skinning overtop of other groups, groups over 5 people, etc.).  Dudley says it's only a matter of time before we see an accident and I agree.  Please remember, if you aren't being safe, it isn't just your own life you are putting at risk.  Be respectful to other users.  Wear a beacon.  Know how to use it.  Don't be stupid. 

Looks like a good sized storm is on the way for early in the week.  The Bowl is open 7 days a week starting Thursday.  Let's hope they make it Tuesday!  See you on the slopes and remember, in the sidebar you can find all our favorite snow and weather links.


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