April Showers Bring... High Elevation Powder

For most people April showers bring May flowers. I am not most people. I am an obsessed skier. I see ski lines on the horizon year-round. My summer hikes usually even revolve around scouting future skiable terrain. For me, the saying goes, "April showers bring high elevation powder."

^Most everyday folks have moved on to more traditionally spring-like activities, but for myself, and others with the same obsession, or perhaps disfunction, it is prime backcountry touring still. Classic lines like this one above offer themselves up with abundance. 

^Maybe that is all part of the problem here though. There are plenty of us that choose this lifestyle. A myriad of people that literally build their lives around a skier's lifestyle. Seems that maybe we all just enable each other!

^Can anything that makes us smile like this really be a bad thing? I don't think so. I don't expect most to understand. I think it takes years of brainwashing and internal rationalization to really get there. I for one have done my ten-thousand hours. I am all-in. So much so that when its pouring rain at my house in Ogden City at 4,500 feet above sea level I am doing temperature versus elevation calculations in my head all morning to decide where the skiing will be good. 

^My buddy Brian is one of those people. He is also happy to get vertical. As much as he can. He loves it too. He came west just like me. From the same area, and with the same intentions. We met on a skin track. It all makes sense. Right? It does to us.   

^This was another classic chute in Ogden, just me and Brian. This particular April shower hit pretty hard and dropped eight inches of snow in the higher elevations. The birds were chirping at my house the morning after the storm in Ogden City as I woke up for this particular partly sunny day, but just a few thousand feet higher in elevation the skiing was on point. 

^Brian and I got adventurous and put together and entire day of pushing into some of the Mt. Ogden ridge line classic chutes. We were playing aspects as well as elevation. In April the intensity of the sun and higher day-time temperatures makes the aspect game crucial to not only skiing good cold powder, but also is paramount to avalanche concerns. In this picture above, Brian is slowly working his way down a pretty sharp ridge line with tips and tails hanging over exposure. Behind him is a pretty hot southeast slope that we did not want to disturb, and in front of him is a sizable cliff. It is prudent to take your time in that scenario. 

^Then it was skis on the pack to a knifey ridge hike.   

^To another scramble climb.

^To a stop to admire our earlier tracks in the distance.

^Then continue to a down scramble to arrive at our final destination.  


^Yep. Tracks and landscape.

^I circled back around for another lap after Brian left. On my way up I watched this foursome ski really nice lines in this bowl together. I listened to them talk about it on the ridge, and cheer each other on. I watched them high-five at the bottom, and heard one proclaim, "Well, I think that was a quality day of skiing!" As they all laughed and shoved off for some cold beers down low in the warm spring sun, I carried on upward solo for one more lap to a casual cruiser to finish off my day. I thought about that group, and I thought about my pretty big day of classic chutes with Brian. I get deep into my own head when I am solo touring often. I found myself grateful for the fly on the wall experience to watch that group of friends enjoy there last ski of the day. I was grateful for a friend like Brian whose response to my inquiry for a tour with him that morning was, "Ha ha ha. Of course I am in." So while I know that for most people the April showers are all about the flowers to come and green grass sun shining days, for people like Brian and I, and this group of four among others, it seems that saying is indeed a bit different. I do love flowers and green grass too, don't get me wrong, but I am also really grateful that there are other people that see April showers for the high elevation powder. I am happy to call those crazy people my friends. I also happen to believe in a different version of another classic ski culture saying where I say rather then, "No friends on a powder day" it goes "It's better WITH friends, on a powder day". Especially in April when it is just us strange crazy people up there.