By Reggie Crist
Following eight days and more than 10 feet of new snow, the skies finally parted for our first “bluebird” day in Haines. The early morning pink light instantly generates enough ambient heat to evaporate the remaining layer of low-lying clouds. Rainbow Peak stands proud above town as we begin our 7 a.m. daily guides’ meeting, fueled by copious amounts of caffeine. The dialog is cautiously optimistic as weather observation and snow pack analysis are discussed.
My assignment today is to guide the Levitation Project snowboard film crew and riders Wyatt Caldwell and Chris Coulter, both of whom are testing First Ascent prototype gear. The challenge will be to evaluate stability while matching snow, light and expectations. I scroll through my playlist of east-facing slopes with manageable terrain as we lift from the staging area at highway mile marker 18. It is my first time into this zone this season and I am pleasantly surprised by the excessive amount of snow, especially up high.
En route to the Tahkin Glacier, we pass by a familiar honey hole featuring steep-yet-manageable terrain with a healthy mix of spines and pillows. Wyatt and Coulter approve, so we set down and begin the process of opening the slope. I line the boys out on a cornice air and send them hiking up a safe ridgeline while I drop in and begin my snow evaluations. Pit analysis reveals a right-side-up snow pack with recent storm totals of 40 cm of new snow.
Proceeding with caution, we nibble away at the slope, confirming our suspicion that conditions are favorable. The boys return for another lap on the same run and step it up a notch. The momentum continues to build, and by the end of the day Coulter is convinced, “This is the best day of my life!” His words confirm my convictions; it is a great pleasure to show these mountains to friends who share the same passions.
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