I AM Alpine
I am looking through fogged goggles
It is early January, new years day to be precise, the year could be 2001, 02, 03 or 04 anyone one of those magical years we had some serious pacific moisture move in to the Sierra’s just after Christmas. Tahoe City had been shut down by another 18-inches at lake level and the weather forecast showed a huge whip of moisture pushing in from the West. Cold air aloft meant ridgeline totals measuring dozens of inches. Over a hundred that particular storm cycle…
The days leading up to our bluebird even where lived in black and white tree runs, sheltered stashes and long secret traverses to find ways to sneak around into Sherwood cliffs or hidden knolls. Our right leg was constantly shorter than our left as we made these massive traverse lines from the few running chair lifts…it is amazing how much terrain you can access if you just know the topography.
Despite the inch per hour snowfalls over the past few days and the constant booms above tree line…Alpine Meadows stayed open. As we all knew, as soon as the wind changed the clouds would clear and the moisture would be sucked out of the new snow…leaving thigh deep champagne over cured sierra cement. With a deep snowpack, measuring over 200-inches at the sister’s snow stick it was going to be all time the next day.
And there I was the next day, looking through fogged goggle lenses, cued up at the summit six at 7am…snowcats maneuvering around buried ski racks and ten of us already hyped and ready to go. The first wave of patrollers had already started their dawn ridgeline patrol…somewhere up above Bernies they where mucking through some deep drifts with packs full of yellow bombs and pull fuses. Rumors flew around…would keyhole open right away, what about Estelle or Beaver…the snow seemed super stable.
Soon two figured emerged above Kangaroo, waist deep with huge contrails of powder dispersing in the north wind. Huge smiles on the patrollers snow covered faces as they ducked the ropes to hop back on the chair…a little more “work” was obviously needed before the 9am opening.
By know the lift lines were full of the usual tahoe freaks…fat skis, long boards, packs with shovels and as always a few well intentioned families wondering what was going on. Every stared at the lifty…eying her down…drooling and shuffling for position. There are no friends on the first chair and I was cued to claim that prize. Then it came, the rope dropped and six of the luckiest SOB’s in ski land sat down on a snow covered chair to lead the charge that day!!
Keyhole or Beaver?
Submitted By: Dan