The French Poodle
When Scott mentioned Grizzly Chute to me the night before I felt a small surge of adrenaline. I haven’t really stepped it up in awhile and the line that Newsome mentioned is steep and aggressive. His particular line I have never seen tracks down it. So at 6 am I picked up Frank and we met Newsome in Rogers Pass. The morning sun was just hitting Grizzly Mountain and it glowed with potential.
Frank toured up Grizzly shoulder while we powered up Grizzly Mountain. Frank was in a great position to film our descent and we raced the sunlight up the mountain. Charging up its south face I could see that we were about to miss the sun. Which we did,but by this point it was the lines we were psyched about and not the footage.
As I set the trail to the summit I was blown away by the snow. 20-40 cm of light fluffy snow flakes, that had somehow not been wind affected at all. This was a great indication that windloading had been minor and that there would most likely be no windslab lurking in our descents. I spent the whole approach visualizing how I would ski the Grizzly chute aka the french poodle. I planned to ski it with temerity, I formulated a confident plan on how I would ski each part of it. How and where I would avoid my slough, where I would slow to check behind me and exactly where my safe spots were.
The sun dipped behind the clouds but by this time I was ready to rip it up. Realising that the video we would get may not be great I positioned my skis over the descent and visualised my run one last time. And then skied the chute like I have never skied it. Fast and aggressive for the first 800 feet, checking for slough… nothing was following me… deep deep snow flashed by as I careened down the run…as it choked up I looked back and my slough was running fast I pulled out right and let it by. Then I cut out onto an exposed face and skied a few tentative turns through 50 cm of light powder. I looked back up the 40′ slope and could not believe that nothing was moving. I kept it up and finished off the face and down into the bowl, 2500 feet of non stop aggressive alpine skiing.
I then turned and took a few photos of Newsome as he snowboarded his line. As I mentioned previously I have never seen tracks down his line. A fantastic line that he has dreamt about for years. After the run he went home and Frank and I toured back up Grizzly so that Frank could ski the chute.
We spent the rest of the day filming a few descents down the South face of the summit as we toured upwards. I skied 3 fun and fast runs and by 3.30 we were finally on the summit. A beautiful sunset ended our great day.
11400 feet of skiing, day 20 turned out to be the best of the year. Unbelievable! I think of all the skiing I have had and then imagine that I am only 20% of the way to my goal. I have so much incredibly skiing ahead of me!