Posted by: quienessupa | January 7, 2009

Skiing Vail in an Arctic subzero cold front – Part 2

Its a “Dry” cold!  LOL


Above, a picture to prove Gertrude (my truck) really still works when the -22 temp as we cross Vail pass summit at 10,600ft.

The storms had lined up well and there had been lots of fresh snow when we got to Vail 12/27/08.  That morning’s report said 7″ new snow in 24hrs so Jason, his Dad Paul, and I headed out.  My limit these days is about 1/2foot and on Christmas Eve, they reported 5″ so we called off the trip at 5AM that day.  My younger self would slap me silly for such a ridiculous rule.

Going thru Eisenhower tunnel put us in a colder airmass and we got a kick watching the temp readout plummet mile after mile.  We thought -12 looked brutal and had no idea it would keep going?!  The forecast for 10-20mph winds and gusts to 40 made these temps scary.  20mph wind at -22 degrees F meant a wind chill of about -70… DUDE?  Only once in Jackson Hole had I been in colder conditions.  They closed Jackson Hole to skiing one day at 40 below!  Anyway, luckily we were prepared and the winds never blew over 15mph so we were fine.  All skin covered.


Above: Left: Captain knuckle-dragger  Right: Proof of my big head.

You can’t really see, but in the above pictures, there’s a cloudbank below us that shows up as more white to the left of our heads.  It was cool to be above cloudbase and on the ground at the same time.  🙂

Wish I had video of these cold adventures but my video camera won’t cooperate in sub freezing weather.  And my hands aren’t all that keen on it either.  🙂  I haven’t gotten a season pass anywhere for years, but somehow, the daily price to ski Vail was hard to accept.  97 bucks?  I’m thinking more back country skiing for me… 


Ferocious dog in her “Christmas Sweater”

We met up with a local friend, Matt, who always knows where the untouched powder hides.  The trees were tight but we got some knee high snow here and there.  The snow was very slow b/c of the cold.  Kinda like sandpaper.  Maybe because of the deep chill, or because of the misty ice crystal layer that had settled on top, but it was noticeably “sticky” on all the flatter areas.  So Jason, the knuckle-dragger kept badgering me for my poles.  I had to break trail for him once after we dropped into a flat meadow that hadn’t been touched yet. 


We did the mile long bump run (always forget the name) but the lines and fresh powder over them made for the perfect run.  The kind where snow flies up into your chest once in a while.  Jason smokes the bumps on his snowboard and it’s cool to watch. 

Later, it warmed up to 12 degrees at the lower lifts and that felt warmish in comparison.

At Mid-Vail, Paul and I talked Hang Gliding and Experimental planes over whiskey and coffee.  Can’t think of a better place to swap stories about aviation!  That was a highlight of the day.  And the sub zero part was fun too! 


Above:  This kid has serious thrill issues.  I need eyes in the back of my head.

These cold fronts have been great this year… There’s another one coming this week and the flying community is eagerly watching each new NOAA forecast!!!  FLY FLY FLY!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Here’s to ’09!



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