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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    The Wilds of Maine
    Posts
    2,680

    TR: Miracle March Cranmore Backcountry

    After a January and February that had this recent transplantee back to the East Coast suffering severe mental anguish with rain and bare ground after having spoiled himself with four 500"+ winters in Jackson and Salt Lake, the recent multitude of Nor'easters arrived to provide the kind of emotional release that only those who enjoy getting powdah in the face long for.

    The logical move last week would have been to head to Vermont, where overhead blowah waited in the trees, but Mainers don't like people "from away," and like going "away" even less, so instead we opted to schwack it out in the heartland of Now Hampshire.

    A Friday afternoon arrival at Pinkham Notch and a quick skin to the base of Hillman's revealed hurricane-force winds and a recent avalanche that had jumped the wall of the normal avalanche path and filleted a ski trail's worth of trees in its course. After some careful deliberation ("was there a recent avalanche?" = yes! "Is the wind so strong I can't even look up outside of my hood?" = yes!), we turned around, transitioned, I postholed with my snowboard back to the Sherb, and we descended weird snow back to the car and made tacos at a friend's house.

    Saturday brought even colder temps, sustained winds, and a crew that desired riding obscure lines in the Cranmore-area backcountry (triple wink). When the desired rock slides were helaciously scoured from wind, we instead headed across the valley to poke around in the woods and see what deepness we could find.

    Ascents started with sporty skintracks featuring navigation around many narrow trees, and inevitably required transitioning to booting through thigh-chest deep snow which occasionally sat over bare ice. Sports!

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    However, the exercise of seeing a hundred feet of navigable creekbed from the flats, then seeing around the next corner and the next and eventually linking up a much longer run with enough space to turn -- a rarity in NH's brutally thick woods -- was quite a fun exercise, and the initial return journey provoked many smiles.

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    Gibbs doesn't smile though, so no luck there...

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    I enjoyed many turns on my splitboard as well, but being only my third season snowboarding, I still haven't figured out how to stop, so efforts to come to a graceful pause on the slope inevitably resulted in frontflips instead. Still, the run down was awesome!

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    All smiles with some #pow4brains already by 10:30, we navigated to a more obvious slide down the valley, booted up alongside a team of dentists learning how to self-arrest with ice axes, and skied a short but very stellar pitch with a mix of smooth windbuff and deep unconsolidated POW. Gibbs gives 'er:

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    After Hannah slayed the culvert at the bottom of the line, it was time to transition back and get weird again going uphill for the day's final lap:

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    Another "Wasatch'ed" skintrack (i.e. impossibly steep) led to another impossible bootpack, It was a familiar sight, mostly because I used the same photo:

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    Having not broken trail once today, I foolishly volunteered to take over, and trudged uphill through snow that was touching the brim of my hat as I tunneled through it. This eventually transitioned into "vegamountaineering" in which I used the assist of some local shrubs to navigate over a small icefall. The group having decided against this effort as a collective, we turned around and enjoyed some final deepnazz to end our Saturday:

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    I was reminded again of the occasional inefficacy of splitboarding when I was forced to transition into splitboard tele mode to navigate the flat glades at the exit, but we were soon back at the car and too cold to want to enjoy beers and instead salivated around heating vents before heading out to get some early dinner.

    While Gibbs headed for home and Hanna bailed for Sunday Funday, having flown in from Bozeman only the day before and underwent our Saturday mission on three hours of sleep, Blake and I angled for a two-man Sunday Funday and headed back to Pinkham under blue skies and a crown line in Gulf of Slides that looked like it was five feet tall.

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    We approached Tucks and quickly reacquainted our faces with the kindly gale-force winds.

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    After a brief skin up the side of the bowl, we transitioned to crampons which I had rented and was utilizing for the first time ever, and booted up nice wind-blasted snow higher into the alpine. The ascent was surprisingly pleasant and dare I say enjoyable, and far faster than my previous visits to Tucks in which I was either out of shape and hiking beyond a hundred people in the spring or shitting my pants as a middle schooler going straight up the Headwall.

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    With smooth windbuff, quite isolated avalanche danger, and no one else yet in the zone, the stoke was high despite the wind which was smacking us hard enough to make me nearly cry out at it in frustration.

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    And the two inches of windbuff was decidedly quite delicious in Lobster Claw, with a prolonged heelside turn and a dose of hurricane winds making it look overhead:

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    After a smile-inducing descent and with time to spare before the deadline after which we would begin to piss off our wives, we put our sharp sandals back on, scooted up Right Gully, and after navigating the short crux at the top, enjoyed beautiful, smooth, steep turns all the way to the base.

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    We then thanked Agiocochook (Abenaki for "Home of the great spirit," the rock pile's name before it was "renamed" Mount Washington in 1820) for letting us in and out safely and enjoyed an empty and buffed-out Sherb run back to the car, nearly forgot to return the crampons, grabbed coffees, upset our stomachs by downing a whole bag of Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers (the best candy!) and nerded out about the paranormal phenomena at Skinwalker Ranch while reacquainting ourselves with the beloved elderly drivers of Maine, who take "Sunday driving" to a whole 'nother level by decreasing their velocity to a casual 20 mph under the posted speed limit.

    Huzzah!
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey, RIP

    Former Managing Editor @ TGR, forever mag.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    base of the Bush
    Posts
    10,966
    Candy and coffee to finish? On the EC we finish with beers.

    Glad you had fun in the wind.
    www.apriliaforum.com

    "If the road You followed brought you to this,of what use was the road"?

    "I have no idea what I am talking about but would be happy to share my biased opinions as fact on the matter. "
    Ottime

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    gone fishing
    Posts
    2,389
    I'm exhausted just reading this (in a good way) ... what a great read..

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    The Wilds of Maine
    Posts
    2,680
    Quote Originally Posted by Vt-Freeheel View Post
    Candy and coffee to finish? On the EC we finish with beers.

    Glad you had fun in the wind.
    I did pour out the top of a 'Ganset tallboy for my grandpa who just passed the day before. But we crushed the single beer and rallied home on the coffee. Poor move for ECRC cred purposes but we were beat and that drive would have been a lot harder with some Bissell in us as would have been the ideal.move.
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey, RIP

    Former Managing Editor @ TGR, forever mag.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    28,864
    great pics good story! glad you were rewarded with some new
    .

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    9,297
    awesome stuff, thanks for putting this together.
    .....I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record

    http://procatinator.com/?cat=80

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