February 10, 2017
You can safely drop in at a hundred different points and a myriad of small gullies and mini-ridgelines await you and with that same small amount of snow it is really easy to keep your speeds safe. These are also ideal conditions for novice woods skiers to venture in to glades that are relatively forgiving and will always bring you right back into the lowest parts of the trail system.
The same kind of experience is available over at the Gondola. Switchback, a trail in the winter, is a work road in the summer. It zigs and zags back and forth as it works its way from the very top of the Gondola to its final meeting with Yucca Flats, the broad area that lies between the Midway Lodge and the Gondola Barn. Locals know many, many woods shots are to be found off Switchback. Some of these are pretty much double-black diamond in nature but as you descend further down the mountain, the woods become gentler in nature.
Between the last wide-open stretch of Gondolier and the very bottom of Chin Clip is another very forgiving stretch of woods that are really filled in with this year’s generous amounts of snow delivered this way by the snow gods.
Okay, so you’re a killer skier or rider, you love ripping the steep lines. Fine, go for it, particularly with that untracked two-inch dump. Stay off the blues or greens, stay out of those low-angle woods. But this veteran of sixty-plus years on the hill knows that great skiing is where you find it, and sometimes the best you will find is in places where most of the rippers don’t look.
One last thought – this week’s wet stuff has taken the luster off this great snow everyone’s been skiing but it will pay off in the end. It will set up hard out there and after the next storm you will be slashing down fresh snow that lies well above more and more of the hidden stumps, branches and rocks always lurking in the woods. If you find the frozen tops of legendary double-black routes like Starr and Goat pretty tough right now, well that’s the way they are supposed to be. In another six weeks or so when March begins to deliver spring skiing, then this massive snowpack that is building will yield up some great corn snow.
Low angle woods are the place to be on light powder days
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