The wind today was INSANE!!! Probably some of the sketchiest skinning I’ve ever done.
We started at the Big Springs trail head and began the tow behind the moon bike up the trail for about a mile and a half. 3 people being towed was a little much for the moon bike, especially because it’s uphill. It gave out a couple of times as it was unable to move forward. Eventually two of us started skinning and the other two drove the moon bike to the base of the ridge we started to climb. The sun was out and it was SO hot. It was insane how powerful the sun felt. We all overdressed because normally getting towed is cold.
As we started putting in the skin track through the trees up to the ridge, there were no problems, but as soon as we hit the ridge the wind increased dramatically and it never stopped. And it got a lot colder, and stayed colder.
We were able to see shooting cracks in some areas and so we knew we needed to watch for wind loading and either avoid it all together or stay on low angle slopes.
While we were hiking up the ridge, the wind was so intense with some of the gusts that I genuinely questioned if it was going to blow us off the mountain. I tried to stay calm and take deep breaths, but I was frightened. Almost certainly the strongest wind I’ve ever been in.
After an intense climb up the ridge, we finally decided to call it quits and drop in, even though we weren’t at the top. We found a spot where the cornice had already broke and made a ski cut into the bowl where there wasn’t as much wind loading. Me and one person in our group had already transitioned, and the other two cut across with their skins on. While they were taking their skins off a small wind slab came and took one of them out, carrying her 5 or 6 feet. Thankfully it low enough angle and moving slowly so there was no damage, but it was still sketchy. We then skied down and thankfully didn’t have any problems. The skiing was actually really good, but we were just trying to get off the mountain at this point so we didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have.
At the bottom there was a short section of tight tree skiing before popping out on the trail, and the it was home free from there! I bombed the first part going full speed, and I lost my water bottle and hat. One of my friends got the hat, but the water bottle is somewhere lost in the woods.
Today was one of those days when we were just happy to make it back to the car safely with no injuries.