Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Extreme Trail Breaking

Extreme Trail Breaking - Up to 24 inches of untouched powder at Vail Pass!

Some of the extreme deep conditions we encountered at Vail Pass today.
No, Zorro is not laying down - he is standing in almost shoulder deep untouched powder!
We spent over an hour of today's outing breaking trail through snow this deep (12-24 inches) - wow!

Looking for some exercise? Looking for some fun? Looking for some Extreme Trail Breaking (which is both exercise & fun)? Well, today we found it skijoring around the Vail Pass Recreation Area.

Our total outing was just over 2 hours; but we spent just over 1 hour breaking trail in untouched powder from 12-24 inches deep! When we skijor, Max & Zorro are typically attached at the collar by a neckline (along with the gangline attached to me) - this setup keeps Max & Zorro skijoring shoulder to shoulder. Take the conditions to 18 inches of powder and a new setup comes into play - remove the neckline and skijor in a single file line. The front Husky takes more of the trail breaking exercise; so you switch out the "front leader" regularly to share this extreme workload. As you can see in the picture above, Max is the taller of our skijoring team - we refer to his long legs as "snow stilts", so he is the primary trail breaker in these super deep conditions and Zorro & I swap in to carry the load when Max gets tired. Today's front leader trail breaking distribution:
  1. 70% - Max in front plowing through the powder.
  2. 25% - Zorro in front plowing through the powder.
  3. 5% - Brad in front plowing through the powder (slacker human! ;-)
Here's a fun analogy to understand extreme trail breaking... breaking through 18 inches of untouched powder for Max is like a 6 foot tall human breaking through 57 inches of untouched powder! Go try it, you'll get the workout of your life!

Today's Route: (1) Start at the Vail Pass Rest Area winter trailhead and begin up Shrine Pass Rd; (2) quickly break off Shrine Pass Rd and onto the backcountry ski trail that hugs West Ten Mile Creek up Shrine Pass; (3) within 10 minutes reach 6-12 inches of untouched powder; within 20 minutes reach 12-24 inches of untouched powder for the next 60-65 minutes of exercise; (4) eventually reconnect with Shrine Pass Rd and take this "easier" route down.

Vital Stats: 6.9 miles; 124m total time; 94m skijoring time; 18 MPH top speed; 1200 feet of elevation gain. Not a particularly fast outing, overall, but you try breaking trail in powder almost as tall as you!

We just transitioned off Shrine Pass Rd and onto the backcountry trail.
Shallow powder, "this is going to be a fast day," I mistakenly thought...
Within 10 minutes, we are out of shallow powder and breaking trail in 6-12 inches.
"Hmm, guess this will slow us down a bit," I foolishly thought.
Within 20 minutes, 12 inches is the new shallow and we are breaking trail in
up to 24 inches. "Ok, single file skijoring, take turns breaking trail" becomes
the reality of our next hour of extreme fun!

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