Fall trip backlog: the start of the ski season

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Jake contemplates the appropriate technique for managing frozen avalanche debris as Mt. Baker looms in the distance

Compared to last year’s grim meterological stakes, the 2015/2016 winter has been a relative bonanza for skiers in the Pacific Northwest. Starting in late fall and picking up serious steam in the final weeks of 2015, a series of cold North Pacific storms have hammered the Cascades, resulting in snow levels frequently dropping to 2000′ or below. Because of this, the *real* story of the season has been the proximity of exceptional skiing to Seattle, and frequent 4:30AM wake-ups to snag 3000′ of powder before work. But back in November, a couple of trips further afield provided profligate eye candy for my dutiful X100.

Kicking things off, Jake and I knocked out a short circumnavigation of Table Mountain in the Mt. Baker sidecountry. It’s hardly a committing undertaking, but I don’t think there’s a better short ski tour in the world. I’ve already been back to repeat it with Sarah and Kate.

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Shuksan (!)

Following that (and my trip to Nicaragua), Kate and I observed tradition to meet college friends Ben and Hannah outside Bend. We managed to skin a few laps at Mt. Bachelor, but more notably ticked another spectacular Cascadian shield volcano, the often-overlooked Paulina Peak / Newberry Crater (7985′). At 14 miles round trip, it was an excellent introduction to training for this year’s Elk Mountain Grand Traverse, which I’ll be tackling with fellow RMBL winter caretake and close friend Peter come March.

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The Three Sisters from Bachelor’s Cinder Cone.

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Kate, Stringer, and central Oregon’s Cascade Crest on a cloudless western horizon.

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Newberry Crater from Paulina Peak.

We closed out 2015 with a trip to visit Kate’s parents in Colorado over the winter holidays, and were treated to a week of gorgeous skiing in the Gore Range and the Sawatch Range, confirming that yes, aspens and thin air and still make my heart ache nostalgic.

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The Williams Fork Range from the foothills of the Gores.

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Best dinner in Leadville.

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Celebrating an early New Years.

All of which is old news, but in the midst of a frantic few months, something worth pausing to reflect on. And be thankful for. Why else have a blog?

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