The Carver's Almanac

SES 2006 - Thursday
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February 16, 2006

Some of the SES crew snuck into First Tracks at Ajax on Thursday morning. Here, Jim (right) is strategizing on which runs will be groomed, and where to persuade the guide to take us first. Then, he predicts where the best powder stashes will be. The grooming is going to be the big question mark of the day, since it snowed about 8" at the top of the mountain last night.
(Also: the gondola provides an opportunity for the obligatory fisheye shot of the day.)

We arrive at the top of the gondola for First Tracks, and prepare for "variable" snow conditions.
Then, we ponder what "variable" might mean.

Our guide goes through the litany of First Tracks advice, which includes this zinger: "If you overtake someone, then you also overtake the responsibility of passing them safely, no matter what they do. If they make a 90º turn in front of you, that's your problem."

We persuade the guide to take us over to Ruthie's Run. Since the lift that normally drops people off at the top of Ruthie's is closed at the moment, we will have to earn our turns, and hike a short way uphill to Ruthie's. It's "March of the hardbooters", an outdoor nature drama.

Well, here's the story: Nothing on the mountain was groomed, except for a small patch of slope right near the gondola entrance, which tricked us into thinking that the entire mountain might be groomed. You win some, you lose some. Plus, it was dumping heavily. And windy. And really cold. With low visibility and flat light. My camera lens got iced over right after I took this shot. Definitely a day for the powder board. And a sub-zero parka.

Ever an optimistic bunch, all the carvers anticipated better conditions over at Buttermilk. Maybe it's sunny and balmy.

And so it was. And it was good. The demo tent is parked right outside Bumps.

Immediately, Sean Martin gets to work, transplanting bindings from Coilers to Doneks.

With 10" of fresh fluff the previous night, nothing at Buttermilk was groomed. So, the ideal scenario was to use a powder board in the morning, and something like the Madd BX board after things got really choppy.

Here is an example of the aforementioned chop. The good news: there were stashes of powder all over the place,
So the powder hounds had a blast.

First on the agenda for the morning: Sean Cassidy's carving clinic. Sean once again teaches a carving style
that works uncommonly well in the powder/chop/crud that we have today.

By minimizing unnecessary rotation, Sean shows how to achieve the best range of flex and mobility.

Pretend you have a beach ball between your knees, then use your legs as shock absorbers through the crud.

Sean's clinic is especially useful for people just getting into carving.

Using the more stable body stance, Sean manages to stay confoundedly relaxed while carving.

OK, now I go around the mountain taking candid carving shots from various vantage points.

Matt gravitates to anything untracked.

Yup, it's possible to fully decamber, even in a slope full of chop.

Then, later in the day, Bob Jenney does a women's video shoot. Notice the HelmetCam.
Bob rides through the chop, and performs the human SteadyCam trick.

Bob keeps the camera focused on the talent.

Patricia does mogul navigation.

Michelle angulates through the minefield of chop and moguls.

Kim slices and dices the crud.

With Sean's stable carving technique, Adelle becomes invincible in the chop.

OK, things are starting to get really tracked up. Let's see who else is up to the soft snow challenge.

Some folks have speculated that Trent is not actually at the SES, but rather at a hillbilly resort in northern Minnesota that caters to white trash. This photo should put that speculation to rest.

Trent now takes on the late-afternoon conditions. The snow consists of a base of torn up chop,
underneath yet another layer of chopped-up snow, with yet more chop thrown on top for good measure.

Mike Tovino arrived on Wednesday, to gather inside info on session logistics that may come in handy for
the Oregon Expression Session, coming up in March.

It's near the end of the day, and everyone is taking one last run, then relaxing at the demo tent, then maybe doing yet another last run, then talking about the performance the demo gear, then, after getting coaxed into doing one more last run, chill'n out in the afternoon sun, then, after deciding to take a final last run, realizing that the lifts are closed, meaning that the previous run was in fact the last run.

Sean Martin brought his color printer with him to Aspen, and he printed out a bunch of photos taken by himself and Scott (center) during the session. D.T. (left) and Crave2Carve (right) admire the handiwork.

Actually, there is one last run after the lifts close, since you can hike up the pipe without vehicular conveyance.
Here, Tille gets his jib on.

My sixth sense tells me that Bordy is going to bust a move in the pipe - big air, big jib, big karma.

Bordy is over the lip, with a big grab. Big time.

Bordy celebrates with an after-jib cordial.

Once again, just relaxing in the Aspen sun is a spa treatment unto itself.

The very picture of après-carve contentment.

And yes, some people came fully prepared.

(Plus, the obligatory selective focus shot of the day.)

Whereas Didi could order up a belly-rub from Michelle using ESP, this pooch has no luck hypnotizing Bob Jenney.

We end Thursday with the SES Tip of the Day: If you want to find huge untracked powder stashes after everything else gets chopped up, just follow Mats. Mats and his Pogo powder board sniff out untracked pow that conventional techniques can't uncover.

Mats savors the fresh pow, off the side of a run in an undisclosed location.

Well, that was not exactly a groom-enabled day, but it was a fine opportunity to demo the all-mountain boards. For the record, the Prior WCR 177 Titanal demo board floated exceptionally well in the pow, and handled chop with ease. The SES returns to Snowmass tomorrow for the final day (the week sure went fast). If it snows again tonight, I'm all over the Madd BX board.