West Bench Trail

West Bench Trail

Last weekend I got to spend some time up on the Grand Mesa with my EMGT partner Amiee.  This was our first time skiing together since she agreed to be my partner and our first time together since High School.

We met at a Safeway on the east end of Paterson and carpooled up to Powderhorn Ski area.  The night before the Mesa got between 12 and 18″.  Most of the snow fell up high so the drive was more or less uneventful.  We got to the resort shortly after they opened, worked out gear and skinned up.  We made the climb up the steepest portion east side of the big bowl that hosts the resort which had been groomed to about midway.  We went on and off the groom passing under the lift to make it more difficult.  After midway the climb get’s steeper and is un-groomed.  The conditions and the angle made me focus on my kick turns through this part as we ascended.

Once we reached the top of the lift we stopped briefly for some calories and a breather then headed off around the West Bench.  After some searching we found the trail and someone on skinny skis had broken trail for us about a mile and change around the corner.  Amiee was getting a hot spot so we stopped briefly and put down some blister protection.  This was good, because it gave us an opportunity to work out some exchange for stopping along the EMGT route.  We won’t need to very often, but its good to make a pause efficient.

Wow, serious pow pow across the bench

Back on the trail I broke trail after we passed the point where the skinny skier had turned around.  There was a bit of compacted snow under the powder, but most of the time it was up around or above my knees.  Also, there was significant slumping as we passed over open areas.  The avalanche danger must have been high, the older snow below all that powder was nasty and weak.  We just chose terrain that wasn’t at risk.

Finally we reached the West Point Lift along the west side of the same bowl.  The ski patrol at the East Lift had asked us to check in at the hut when we made our way around the corner so we stopped in, was nice to warm up too.  As we stowed skis a couple of ski patrol approached us and the new General Manager for the resort Daren Cole.  Daren noticed the Hagans mounted with SkiTrab bindings and started asking questions.  Turns out he’d really like to put a race together up on the Grand Mesa perhaps starting and ending at Powderhorn.  I am down for this and would love to help.  We exchanged information and hopefully we’ll be able to put something together.

After a bit of warmth we mounted up for the descent and headed back down the hill.  Packed powder on the descent made it super fun for me.  The Hagan X-Lites are very quick and you have to stay on top of them, but they can ski even the deep.

Amiee on the Bench

Great day out on the mountain with Amiee, hope to do it again very soon.

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