Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Suicide: January 9

There's been a lot of talk of dawn-patrol lately. I found myself participating in the storied ritual early Sunday morning. My reasons were simple: free ride up the canyon with a promise of breakfast.

Cornwallis and I geared up in the covered entry in the shadow of Hellgate. The snow was beginning to let up and stars and planets peered through the last remnants of a weak system. The skinner began at the road in 2 angry inches. Trail breaking was easy and we were at the base of the chute in short order.

Cornwallis put it in 4 low and took off in a fury. I would not see his face again until the top. The higher we got, the deeper it got. It became obvious that we were in for a treat. Wind and snow had conspired together in our favor.

The cornice was bigger than usual and required some low 5th class moves. True to form, Cornwallis strong-armed it. I elected to pass my pack up.

From our perch, we shouted obscenities at Snowbird and Alta for longer than was necessary. Eventual we clicked in. We didn't say much because of hoarse throats from our recent hollering. The snow was excellent and the skiing effortless. 10" of low density scattered as we silently plummeted towards the 210.

We rounded the bend and passed from shadow into the sweet sunshine. Lower down there was only 4" and the turns were getting loud. Trenches from skiers earlier in the week were frozen solid. We worked right to a smoother area and let 'em run until it got quiet again.

I've always wanted to "ride that shit switch into the road," but the reality of a 4' drop to flat convinced me otherwise. It was still early and my stomach reminded me of the pre-arranged breakfast. Free-ride, free food: maybe there is something to this dawn patrol fad.

- U.K.

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