I’m all excited about going on my first real backcountry ski trip tomorrow (Sunday). Plans are to skin up to Lockett Meadow and then on to Inner Basin on my telemarks. The trip is about 7 miles, 3000 vertical feet each way… will be my longest cross country ski trip to date. I’m taking my frame pack loaded with food, water, and clothing for the long haul, but not really expecting the trip to take longer than a couple of hours. It should be a good first trip, nothing steeper than 20%, mostly just a long slog on a beautiful day. I expect snow cover to be good; based on observations the other day at 9000 vf and backcountry ski reports, snow should be 4-6 ft. deep. I’ll post when I get down…
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Well, I made it back safe and sound and happy and blister-free. The trip up was 6 miles, 4 hours long. The day was awesome with temps around 20-30 degrees. Anyone who has xc skied knows very little clothing is necessary because of the effort required, around 600 calories burned per hour, and use of most of the body’s muscles. I took a large frame pack with water and food and clothing for the trip back down. The first several miles of trail were well-packed from skiers and I was questioning the reasoning behind bringing telemarks and heavy alpine boots. But once I climbed high enough the snow was deep and powdery and I would have been buried on my skinnies. Coming down without skins was joy, in spite of several face-plants when I forgot that my heels were not attached to the ski. These crashes wrench the hips and knees severely and it is best avoid them entirely. I even got a few powder spraying telemark turns in and went blasting through the trees at speeds well above my ability level. The trip down only took 45 minutes, with a stop or two to crash and adjust clothing, and one short uphill slog.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the day. Flagstaff has great xc skiing and there are steeper slopes waiting when I’m ready for them. People on skinnies could go 5 miles or so up the trail I went, but the downhill would be a little dicier. The telemarks and me aren’t the strangers we used to be after this trip. The alpine boots I am using work well for uphill use but I lose some control during turns going downhill due to the smaller toe plate—but an acceptable trade-off at this point given that telemark boots cost around $600 a pair. I took a few pictures of the trip, check out my online album below.