"I always arrive after you guys have already dug the pit and never get to see the test," my dad says as he reaches our destination in the Casadilla area in the Middle Fork near Essex, Montana. Snow pack was great and with no propagation we decide the snow is safe for skiing. WAHOO!!
Warren Lane, Caleb Pleasents, Randy Hohf (my dad) and I got up around 6:30 AM to head to the Middle Fork for some incredible backcountry skiing. A nice way to start a Monday and an even better way to end the 2012 year. Skin track was in so no breaking trail was neccessary. Another plus to the start of the day.
After about two hours of a hike in we dug a pit on the north aspect of a 36 degree slope and do our snow test. Warren explains to us that he's learned from more experienced avalanche testers that you really only need to watch for one main thing. The most important thing is propagation. If the collumn propagates at all, it's probably not safe and shouldn't be skied.
We skinned to the top of the Checkerboard area with a nice helping of 6 inches of fresh POW. The Checkerboard area is probably some of the best tree skiing I've ever had. Perfectly placed tall pines and firs anchor the snow which allows for a safe area to ski without much risk of a slide. The trees are also placed just so, that you don't need to slow down too much for manuvering. All in all the two days of skiing in effortless powder was a success. An incredible start for backcountry skiing and an amazing way to kiss out the old and kiss in the new.