Eiseman Hut WAGS Trip – Part 1

 Let me start by saying that this is one of the best trips to the mountains I’ve ever had. Outstanding times with friends, beautiful scenery, amazing snow, great photos, and countless stories to tell. I organized this trip in August, after a few of us decided that last April’s trip was too much fun to not do again – only this time, it was to be a WAGS (wives and girlfriends) trip.

We got an early start on Friday, heading out from the Spraddle Creek trailhead about 8am with big, heavy packs on our backs.

While it was a frigid morning (4F at the trailhead, as low as -5F on the drive in), things quickly became comfortable once the sun came out.

While the Spraddle Creek approach is slightly more work than the Red Sandstone route, it’s far more interesting and scenic.

About a year ago, Hans forgot his sunglasses, and borrowed some of Lauren’s. This year, the look has been made permanent. I bring you Rockstar Hans:

Unfortunately, Hans has since taken up telemarking. One of the many drawbacks is spontaneously-breaking gear. Here’s Hans and Derek performing a field repair of one of his bindings.

Though I had one minor glopping scare which terrified me with the memory of last year, it turned out to be nothing, and I was able to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather on the approach. Here’s Lauren with Vail in the background.

Lauren and I were in brand spankin’ new AT boots on this approach – me in the Scarpa Maestrale (review to come), her in the Gea. I didn’t have any problems, but her feet were not pleased with making a 7 mile approach with a heavy pack in brand new boots, and became quite painful. She toughed it out though, and was incredibly happy when she finally made it to the hut.

The view upon arrival was spectacular.

As I was the only one in the group with the combination to the hut, and Hans and Derek arrived a bit before Lauren and I, they kicked back and enjoyed the view. Hans hauled in a few beers, and put one to good use while he waited.

Hans and I took a quick test-lap once we unpacked to check conditions, and were blown away by how good the snow was; and when we returned to the hut, it had started snowing. Eiseman is pretty decked out as far as the kitchen goes, and we enjoyed a delicious chicken and tofu pad thai before hitting the sack. It was fairly early to bed, in anticipation of the day ahead.

We woke to about a foot of new super-low density snow – the stuff legend is made of – and it was still dumping. About this time, a couple more of our friends were heading in via Red Sandstone.

Although 3/4 of our group had been here before and knew exactly where we were heading, the other folks in the hut wanted to get a little more adventurous, so Derek looked over the topo with them. I’m not sure where they went, but they said it was good.

As Hans and I learned in Alaska, if you’re eating Mountain House, you’ve failed before you even began. Breakfast the first morning was 6 potatoes sliced thinly with cheese, scrambled eggs, and bacon.

It was good that we had a hearty breakfast, because we had a good, hard day of skiing awesome pow ahead of us. This shot of Lauren below is about as shallow as it got.

Fortunately Hans and I pre-set the skintrack on Friday night, so things were a little easier than they otherwise would have been on the first time up.

We moved a few hundred feet from where we first dropped, and found ourselves in waist-to-chest deep superhero snow. You can’t see him, but you can see Hans’ cloud. He was firmly in the whiteroom.

And here’s Derek skiing deep blower pow:

Another one of Hans enjoying the pow through the trees:

Here’s one of yours truly – notice the cracked brim on my Smith Variant helmet. It happened when I set my pack in the snow, with my helmet on the back. I’m rather disappointed in the breakage, but I’m more disappointed in their warranty department. I talked to them and was offered 30% off MSRP for a new helmet, which is still more than I paid for it. But the pow was amazing.

Saturday was, by far, the best pow day I have ever had. Deep, weightless, perfect snow.

Notice Hans in the back, chest deep.

Another one of Lauren, having a blast.

Each lap brought us by the hut, and on this time around Hans decided to wail on the roof cornice, to hopefully prevent it from collapsing on someone heading to the outhouse.

Being about 1pm, we decided to head in for lunch before taking a couple more laps. We were expecting our two other friends any time now too, and so we reheated leftover breakfast, cooked up a couple quesadillas, and got hot water ready.

Lots more tomorrow!

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