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Kendall Trees, April 3, 2010

No April Fool's Joke. April 1 the weather turned windy and wet, with a snap cold spell hovering over the Seattle region and a forecast for snow, lots of snow, in the passes. Better late than never. Backcountry skiers are easy marks; just throw up a report of six or more inches of fresh snow in the mountains and they're THERE. Not having skied in a couple of weeks, and having had no exercise to speak of since before our trips to Sun Valley and China, I was eager to tour. Kevin was in, as was Seth. John, Crispin and Ian also couldn't resist, and we all met up at the Summit West lot at 9:00AM on Saturday.

There was plenty of snow right from the I-90 bridge; around a foot to begin with, and over two feet in selected areas higher up. Nice. Finally it looked like December, it was just a few months late. Heeding the avalanche forecast, which was "4" throughout the day, our plan was to stay in the trees and lap the steeper sections. With the team of machines we had assembled for this trip, the trailbreaking went quickly. We dropped the snowshoers we had started behind and made a beeline for the line under the cliffs, then began switchbacking up through the forest.

We stopped just short of the two wide open bowls we normally ski, dug a pit that showed three distinct crusts none of which displayed clean shears and decent stability with four-from-the-elbow required to move a column. Playing it safe, we decided to stay in the trees and took several 1,000 vf plus runs, which got better as we moved skier's right into steeper terrain. The snow was fantastic, easily the best powder skiing I've had this season, and the Kendall trees were spaced perfectly to let us enjoy it.

I was starting to feel a little worked after three laps and 4,728 vertical feet of skinning, and my legs were starting to be affected by those deep cramps that run from your groin all the way down to your inner knee. With no Gatorade and little food left, I decided to pull the plug and head down. Kevin and Ian hung around for one more lap, and I met them in the lot after a bagel and Coke. As for John, Crispin and Seth, for all I know they're still up there harvesting the goods . . .

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