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Hyak, November 30/December 2, 2005

I hadn't skied at Hyak since I was ten or eleven years old, but I spent years and years honing my skills there, as my parents had seen fit to buy our entire family "lifetime" passes way back in the day. The passes cost $50 per person, and even with the measly $4.50 day ticket prices in the sixties, we got more than our $50 worth - each year. Now, suddenly, I've skied it twice this week.

Wednesday was a late-to-rise morning for Kevin and myself, and by the time we rolled up to the pass the word was out that Alpental Patrol wanted everyone off the mountain for avy control. Several big blasts and subsequent rumbles from across the road tipped us off that they were on the job, so we hooked up with Steve and Pete from the Summit, rode the Wildside chair up twice and skied through the woods to Ski Acres (Summit Central) to hit the narrow, relatively steep pitch called Parachute. Two plus feet of delightful fluff billowed over our bodies as we descended, and the local boys had seen fit to park a truck at the road for the return shuttle . . . Sweet!

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Next we went over to Kevin's for quiche and chocolate before skinning from his house toward the Hyak summit, where blue sky was starting to peek out from behind the clouds and the skiing was equally epic. A Norwegian old-timer named Odvar paced us lap for lap on Nordic gear (he passed us going up the first time), skiing down the skin track between aerobic bursts . . . gnarly!

Friday, Skip Swenson and Chris Cass called for a dawn patrol, and with the word out that Alpental was anxious for ski tourists to stay off the hill while they prepped for their season opener, we decided to reprise the Hyak ski. Justin Davis and his friend Ornulf (yeah, another Norwegian) joined us along with Kelvin Wu of fame.

The drive up was rife with scenes of winter traffic carnage, with multiple semi-trucks and cars off the road and in the ditch . . . we pulled into the Hyak lot at 6:00 AM, with massive windshield shots of pow billowing over my car,  and watched a State Trooper gunning his engine to try to dig his rear wheels even deeper into the snow. Our crew suited up with headlamps as a couple of splitboarders got the jump on us and headed out.

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The skin up was short and sweet . . . where the splitters hadn't broken trail, a groomer for the cross-country trails had just turned the cat track into beautiful corduroy. We sailed up to the top of the old chair and took a couple of laps for good measure before heading back to town and work, arriving a few minutes earlier than usual.

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(click here for a short video of Cass enjoying the goods)

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