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Skiing the Wellsvilles.

April 11, 2010

April 11, 2010. Greg and I skied Box Elder Peak, the highest point in the Wellsville mountain range, today.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it turned out to be an incredible day.

It was really warm, even at 7 AM, so the snow down low was soft and hard to hike in.

Greg hiking past some old roller balls near the trailhead. Photograph by Jacob Buckner.

We made it above the treeline on to a mostly snow-free ridge and the wind picked up to an average speed of ‘pretty annoying.’  This was the hardest part of the hike for me because we were climbing steep, slush-covered shale and I kept slipping in my running shoes and getting knocked off balance by the wind.  We made it to the main ridge of the mountain range in good time and the wind increased to ‘hurricane force’ with gusts of  ‘blowing sharp ice crystals in your face at high velocity.’

Greg hiking up the ridge, shortly before we put our skis on. Photograph by Jacob Buckner.

We changed from shoes to skis and started traversing the ridge.  The wind was making things seem serious and difficult, but the terrain was fairly easy and the skinning conditions were great.

The wind only kept increasing, but the views were incredible and the terrain was really fun.  Every once in a while I had to brace myself for a minute or two against a particularly strong gust of wind, but I really enjoyed this part of the tour.

Me on the ridge. Photograph by Greg Parker.

Greg skinning the ridge. Photograph by Jacob Buckner.

Me overlooking an infamous Wellsville range cornice. Photograph by Greg Parker.

We made it to the Summit of Box Elder Peak and celebrated with water and Mike and Ikes.  Taking the skins off my skis and switching from tour mode to alpine mode is a great feeling.  Touring is somewhat awkward and difficult, but standing on the top of a mountain in alpine skis is a feeling of perfect freedom and joy.

Me (top middle of the picture) skiing down from the summit. Photograph by Greg Parker.

The snow was heavy and spring-like but the terrain was steep and a lot of fun.

Me skiing down lower on the mountain. Photograph by Greg Parker.

The snow got wetter and stickier as we descended until we rode into a muddy farm field.

Greg and our friend Crest (who we met on the summit) shortly before attempting the last obstacle of the day: a locked gate. Photograph by Jacob Buckner.

A good day out.

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