Heavenly's Pearly Gates -
With last year's (2005) shift to an open boundary policy, Heavenly has nearly doubled the amount of terrain available to those who don't mind working for it. Starting Monday, December 12, we spent three days exploring some of that terrain, in search of early season powder. We weren't disappointed.
Monday- We took some turns in Mott Canyon before heading over to the Big Easy, where wqe started our hike to the top of East Peak. From there we dropped down into some of our favorite low angle powder glades, which were perfect for these low snow conditions (generally, the lower the slope angle, the less you sink into the snow when making a turn) . We didn't do too much else that day since our visit to Stagecoach turned out unexpectedly. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing I'm posting pictures of his secret stash online.
Tuesday- We decided to hit an area known as Porcupine Ridge, outside of the Upper Killebrew canyon gate. The ridge itself is across Monument Pass from the resort and is a decent hike away, especially given the terrain your passing up to get there. Fortunately, you do get to ski some of it on the way to the pass. Porcupine Ridge was decent. It was untracked but at times it was a bit crusty. It was good enough that we skinned back up to do it again. After that, my buddies went back to the resort and I made one more ill-fated run.
Wednesday- We headed up early (sort of) and headed straight to the
glades somewhere near East Peak. The powder was divine so we made three laps even though the laps were over an hour each with Olympic Chair and North Bowl still closed. The coverage is low at the end of the run so there are some significant challenges to reentry.
All in all, the three days yielded untracked powder every day with just a wee bit of work. Actually, it takes alot of work but it's there for you if you want it. It also takes knowledge and the proper gear.
When entering the backcountry, proper precautions should be taken, including
avalanche beacon and the know-how to use it, shovel, compass or GPS, friend, weather information, and common sense. Click here for thelatest avalanche advisory info. You can also find more info on our gear pages.
Ski Aware, It's Big out there.