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Edelweiss Bowl, May 12, 2009

For years Kevin and I had skied the lifts at Alpental, looking up from Chair 2 at the rugged cirque that frames the Edelweiss Bowl adjacent to Denny Mountain. There's a crazy line that often has boot tracks heading straight up it on a powder day, which usually necessitates the patrol going up after the guy and pulling his ticket - the area is permanently closed during the season, due to danger of triggering avalanches over the in-bounds ski area.

With Alpental closing on Cinco de Mayo this year this wasn't a factor, and as we pulled into the lot Jay of the pro patrol was just skiing down with his dog and wished us luck, saying to keep an eye on the steep sections. Cass, Drew and Corey also pulled up right around this time and we chatted a bit - they were planning on skiing something over on the International side. A bit of fresh snow from the night before made things pretty for the trip up, and we were hoping for some good turns.

We cranked it on the ascent, and managed to skin all the way to the top of the ridge. A pit revealed a minor crust at about 8 inches, with a bunch of mushy corn underneath and another fist-hard layer at about 22 inches. The top six to eight inches offered good skinning grip, but tended to move on top of the corn if you weren't careful to make a platform.

We looked off the back (south) side of the ridge, which Kevin had heard was skiable, but didn't see any obvious line down to the road. The dubious adhesion of the fresh snow called for some ski cutting, which sure enough brought down cascades of sloppy snow on all the good lines down the front side, leaving only an easily breakable crust with deep mush underneath. Nice.

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It was survival skiing, trying to take care to not get caught in a slough and taken over a cliff or into the trees. Once in the open the snow stability became good due to avy debris underneath, but the skiing was no better. We stopped descending as soon as it became practical and put the skins back on to head to the top of Chair 2.

Kevin set a nice pace up to the top of Alpental, and we saw evidence of several other skiers having been and gone. We had good turns on Upper International, which had completely smoothed out already, then headed over to Knoll #1 and out Trash Can, which were also quite nice. We both commented that we would be in for several more runs out here if only the lift were running!

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