Saturday was a superb day at Schweitzer. About 2m of snow had fallen in the last 5 days, temperatures hovered around -6C all day at the base, light winds, decent visibility and the locals Xmas shopping.
The first hour or so was quite magnificent. High, patchy cloud cover afforded mesmerizing views of the sun rising over Lake Pond Oreille. We lapped the Great Escape chair, enjoying the steep winchcat groomers and dipping off-trail in the fluffy crud in the trees.
By 10.30am the predicted weather arrived and it began to snow lightly. We switched to the back side, and explored the many runs off Stella. The cover was a little patchy lower down in places, exposing some shrubbery, but with the snow accumulating and no people, conditions got better by the minute.
A quick lunch, more exploration and by 2.30 we’d already clocked up well over 9000m vert. The wind at the top picked up a little, and it got seriously chilly, coating your whole body in a thin layer of ice. This drove Jan inside, so I decided to do laps, dropping off the main ridge into Whiplash and Australia. The latter was truly sweet. Lots of soft pillows between the perfectly spaces trees, on a 40+degrees slope.
I do love this mountain. There’s so much terrain in the huge bowls, some decent steeps and some top class tree skiing – probably only second to Red in this part of the world. With the two new lifts, movement around the mountain has improved greatly. The food and nightlife options are a bit limited, but can only get better as more development occurs. And given the pretty remote location, I can’t see the developments getting out of hand for a fair while. If ever …
And it certainly looks and feels like La Nina is here. If the conditions stay like this, she’s welcome to hang around for a looooong time!
Day 8: 11.520m
Season total: 8 days, 3 powder days, 59,520m verts