Last night we checked snow reports and Jon saw that Lost Trail had received 9″ out of the latest storm, so we hopped into the truck and drove to Missoula. We met up with our buddy, Dan Quinn. When he heard our plans, and that Lost Trail was planning on opening the rest of the mountain for the first time this season, he decided to join us.
This time we already knew a little bit about where we were, so on our first lap we skied an open, untracked run to Lift 2. We took a couple laps over there, waiting to hear when Lift 4 would open. It would be the first time it turned this season, so everything on that side of the mountain would be completely and utterly bottomless. Everyone was biting at the bit. On one of our rides up Lift 2, the same patroller that had given a guy first tracks last weekend, yelled out to the chairs that 4 had just opened! It was like someone had opened the flood gates. As soon as anyone got to the top, they were flying down the windy, fast groomer to try to get first chair, us among them. By the time we got there, our cheeks pink with windburn, there was a little bit of a line. They hadn’t quite dropped the rope. After anxiously waiting for about 10 minutes, they started boarding the lift and everyone in line gave out a cheer. It was a long, slow, cold ride and as we neared the top, we saw the people that were ahead of us shoot off the lift and rush to the same open face. Excitement bubbled up inside me and I was already lining up my shot from my perch high above. Jon said to me, “Let’s just buckle and go”. No time to take in the view. We got to the top, strapped down and dropped in. I cut skiers right, all the way to the edge of the face. The sun was bouncing off each individual snowflake, making it seem like God had sprinkled glitter across the mountainside. I drove my skies forward, and cut through the powder, taking in the hollers from the lift, the vast landscape and the weightlessness of each turn. I met up with Dan and Jon at the bottom, and we cut into perfectly spaced trees, floating through the woods like magicians. On our next lift ride up, the lift kept stopping, and by the time we got to the summit, they had closed the backside and were herding people to the front. Something about technical difficulties. We were disappointed, but glad we had gotten at least that one run.
By the time we got back to the front and had lunch, Lift 4 had reopened, so we went back to explore some more. Dan led us to an area called Hollywood Bowl. It’s a large, wide face cluttered with boulders and cliff bands. The coverage was still a little thin in places, so we aimed for wind blown notches and tried not to hit too many rocks. We played around on some smaller cliff bands and took a few small airs. On our third and last run in Hollywood Bowl, we came upon a taller cliff with a nice steep transition. I wasn’t sure if I should jump it. Dan went off to skiers left, Jon to skiers right. I stood on top and studied the possibilities. This was different than Grand Targhee, when it was mandatory. Here, I had a choice. I could go around. But I was already standing on top of it and I had picked a line, with a nice soft turn into it. Could I do it? Now I had thought too much about it. I was getting butterflies in my stomach and my knees started to knock. Maybe I should just go around. Maybe I should stop thinking about it. So I shut my mind up, and executed what my imagination had already played over many times. I did a quick turn, then popped into the air, free falling for a second, while my stomach flipped over and adrenaline pumped into my veins. The landing was perfect, filled with soft snow and just like that it was over. It felt like I had done it a million times before, not just that once, and I couldn’t help the instant smile that was plastered to my face. Best run of the day. We skied for a little while longer, and then called it a day. Another bottomless day. We are some spoiled San Juan powder hounds!