Jan 23 2011

An East Vail powder tale – 1/20/11

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Joel Bettner

After the first big snow of the season I saw a blog post about skiing at Berthoud by Joel Bettner that both warmed my heart and made me jealous. Since then I had seen several of his videos that were posted on everyone’s favorite forecast site, Colorado Powder Forecast. When Joel Gratz, the forecaster himself, invited me on a East Vail tour with his namesake I jumped at the chance since I’d had never done any of the terrain but had always looked at it longingly whenever I drove by on the way to Vail.

The two Joels - just follow the guy in red and blue...

You get to the East Vail terrain by hiking off the top of the Siberia Bowl poma. There were lots of folks headed out on Thursday as Vail had gotten more than 30″ in the previous 3 days. As usual there were folks who didn’t belong out there and in particular one gentleman who had no idea of where he was going (right towards the most avalanche prone area) and fortunately for him several folks yelled for him to come back before we ended up reading about him in the paper the next day. Joel Bettner is a former Alaska heli guide and is incredibly knowledgeable with a very healthy respect for the mountains which is the only reason I was comfortable being out there in the first place. The Vail sidecountry is no joke and just because it’s relatively easy to get to and lots of people do it doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

The view from the top - East Vail sidecountry

Since Joel  was giving the tour it was totally up to him what terrain we were going to ski and it turns out he has a little thing for cliffs (check out the January highlight video on his blog which includes footage from this trip). Now I like to catch a little air now and then but wasn’t quite ready for the 20 to 30 footer that started the tour. Joel, on the other hand was primed to go and we captured the moment in a variety of ways.

Joel B coming off the top

Jeff follows suit...

But doesn't quite stick the landing

Seeing the boys go for big air (not to mention the three feet of powder you were landing in) encouraged me to do a little launching of my own.

it's fun to fly...

and meanwhile when the other Joel wasn’t honing his photograph skills (all the photos in this post except for this next one are his) he was showing us that he was just as good at shredding the powder as predicting it

Joel G coming up for air

All in all, a fabulous tour that left me wanting more and knowing that I would be back sometime in the future. Many thanks to the two Joels for making it happen and capturing the action – otherwise it could all be just another tall tale…about East Vail…