Silverton Avalanche School Level 2 – Part 2

We woke up Saturday morning to find ourselves snowed in by a 5′ tall drift on the walkway out. Showing more motivation than I at that point, Dobish went out and started shoveling.

We talked weather for a while in the morning class before heading out for a tour to confirm (or deny) the CAIC report. After three days of near-total inactivity, I was bustling with energy and broke trail the entire way, even setting my own skintrack instead of following an existing one where necessary.

We dug a total of four pits to investigate spatial variability. All but one were within a few meters of each other, and all had radically different results.

There was roughly a foot of new snow, which we were all excited about skiing (and taking pictures thereof).

Dobish, being incredibly photogenic, made it look good.

Skippy, our instructor for the day, showed that he knows a thing or two about skiing.

Gary of course excels at throwing huge clouds of snow.

Dobish again, making it look even better than it really was.

And Jamie taking his turn making turns.

Saturday night was group dinner night (after a stop at Montanya Distillers, makers of fine rum and rum cocktails) which was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately we all forgot about the salad until after we were done, so I went five days without eating anything green (which I remedied on Monday night by eating a salad bigger than my head). We also had a good long discussion about the direction of FOBP. It’s great to work with people who are so dedicated to our cause, and I have nothing but optimism for the group.

The weather cleared Saturday night (my skis were covered in 2mm surface hoar, if that tells you anything), making for a beautiful morning from town.

We packed up and headed back for one last, short session in the classroom before planning and heading out on a longer tour.

Despite deteriorating conditions, our assigned tour was to skin up to a summit not far from the pass.

The weather wasn’t bad when we started, but by the time we reached the top we found ourselves in a total whiteout, and were directed to head down a different way from the one we came up.

It was great practice in route finding and terrain managemen; since we were running late, it was also a great lesson in decision making under duress. Gary got to do a fair amount of split-skiing on this trip, and always made it look good.

After getting down, we took off for dinner in Ouray before making the long drive back to Denver.

All in all, a great weekend. We got some good skiing in, had plenty of time to hang out and talk snow/skiing/weather/FOBP/avalanches with friends, and learned lots.

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