Clear, Blue Skies and Deep Powder

We had a nice snow storm earlier this week that brought a bit less than a foot of new snow to Flagstaff—but more than two feet in the mountains. Time to get out and ski some deep powder!

Snow covered trees in the Kachina Peaks.
Snow covered trees in the Kachina Peaks.

So off we went to ski the backcountry. Our destination was the area known as “Allison Clay” on the west face of Humphreys Peak. Getting there is not straightforward as there is no trail. One has to bushwack their way from the lower sections of the Humphreys Peak trail around a portion of the mountain before reaching the open slopes. Nonetheless, the trek can be quite beautiful when there is a lot of fresh snow on the trees.

While bushwhacking through the forest we spotted this yin-yang symbol on a tree.
While bushwhacking through the forest we spotted this yin-yang symbol on a tree.

Along the way we stopped at “Flying Dutchman” to survey the conditions. The old snow had settled so much in the past few weeks that the new snow was insufficient to completely cover the rocks and many were poking through the powder. After a quick stop, it was time to continue to our main destination.

First, we must climb this...
First, we must climb this…

Normally setting a trail through the forest and finding Allison Clay is not that difficult—but on this outing I aimed too low and we ended up below the normal ski zone. Not a problem! As it turned out, we found another nice gully with deep, untracked powder. Up we climbed—determined that we would return through this gully on our way back. Higher up, we broke out into the open and began the moderately steep climb up the west face of the mountain. Then it was time to convert all that potential energy into kinetic energy—in other words, let gravity do its thing.

...so that we can do this!
…so that we can do this!
Tree skiing in a wide gully.
Tree skiing in a wide gully.

And, oh, it was GOOD—especially the powder-filled gully! By this time, however, we were getting tired since we had to break a lot of trail through deep snow just to get here.

Look at that happy smile!
Look at that happy smile!

Next morning—same thing. We did all the work yesterday breaking trail so today would be easier. Unfortunately, winds had increased overnight and the avalanche danger began to increase so we chose to ski through the trees and away from the open slope. That turned out to be even better because the powder in the trees was simply marvelous.

Clear, blue skies and deep powder. Wow!

Edit: 01/25/2017…fixed broken link.