(Last Updated On: May 23, 2014)
It was not long after the storm and the powder was good. It was time to chase it. So, Starr and I headed to Axtell for another spring adventure.
I can honestly say, I’ve never skied Axtell in May before. I’ve never really considered it. But, it was caked with white and looking particularly yummy. And with the typical difficult skiing access that we have in May and the recent weather, Axtell seemed like the easy and right choice. I’d never skied the Quill line on Axtell before – neither had Starr. So, as we stood on top, we decided that was our line of choice.
The Quill is like a funnel – a big open bowl that drops off steeply into a very narrow choke through a rock band. With the new snow, I was worried about the potential of slough in the upper bowl as it could pull you down and into the choke. So, I went first. I skied fast and across a good part of the upper bowl. When I was most of the way to my safe zone, I realized that slough was moving behind me so I skied even faster. I turned around to see that the majority of the upper bowl had “sloughed out”. I had a good feeling that’s what would happen and I felt thankful because I believed it was now safer to ski.
I directed Starr to ski down toward me. Despite losing a bit of snow, she still had some great turns!
While I stayed in the safe zone, Starr continued lower. It was clear that the route was getting icier and icier. The slough had shed the upper layers of new snow away more and more as it neared the choke. I could hear Starr’s skis as she hit large ice chunks that sat beneath the surface of the new snow. Then she stopped and hesitated, tentatively peering down the line. It simply wasn’t good. The funneled slough had stripped all the new snow down to bare ice through the choke and it looked glaringly scary. So, rather than risk a slide for life on a line that is better saved for another day, we put it in reverse and booted out of the Quill. Sure, we probably could have side slipped our way down the choke with a death-grip of sorts. But, is that really doing this magnificent line justice?
Starr at the top after booting.
So, we headed back to Second Bowl and found some great turns over there as well.
So beautiful and white…. and CAKED!
And, this is why we don’t ski Axtell in May….. the stream crossing. Normally covered with snow until mid-April, the stream melts out in spring. Yes, there was a log. But, the log was glazed in ice and looked rather daring to cross. Starr and I both had visions of ourselves sliding right off, smacking our heads with our skis, and falling ungracefully into the stream below. It seemed easier just to plop our feet in the water and walk across.
Despite our exploits, we still had some great turns. Who doesn’t like skiing steep pow in May? 😉