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The Road to Flower Mountain

Just when we thought the storm was going to break, another system would pop, and bring yet more pulses of snow. Snowed in, we were anxious to start branching out and begin learning the different zones in the area.

Enter Woody Pahl: son of our landloard Dave Pahl, local high school senior, and maniac on his sled. Woody inspired us with tales of dreamy terrain and easy access to Flower Mountain.

Flower is a beautiful peak visible from the highway and home to uber world class heliskiing descents like Hangover Helper, Indy 5000, and Mahogany.

Indy 5000 boasts 5000 ft. of sustained 40 degree spines- get that in light powder, and well, it doesn't get much better than that.

Hangover Helper is 4000 feet of steep, north facing powder. It's a funneled ramp in the upper section, and spined on the lower sections. Get Hangover in light pow, and it doesn't get much better than that- except for Indy 5000.

Mahogany is on the lower shoulder of Flower Mountain. It too is a gem: spine features, couloirs, and sheltered snow, but with less vertical than its brethren.

The dream has always been to access the wildest skiing on our own agenda, timeframe, and power. A successful route to flower mountain would be a big step towards putting the Haines puzzle in order.

On a snowy Saturday morning, Mark, Oskar, and I received instructions from Woody, who was thirty minutes behind us, and took off toward Flower Mountain. We traveled over the twenty-six mile bridge, and to the cat road for a quarter mile before veering onto the Sunshine loop and presumedly the road to Flower Mountain.

On the road, the overhanging tree branches were laden with heavy snow, the air was full of snow, and breaking trail was bottomless. The texture of the road was beveled so that it has hard to stay on the center line. Its natural flow forced you into the snowbanks, and before long, the three of us we were all stuck. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful place to place to be stuck.

With some work, we freed ourselves and continued for five miles before Woody and friends caught up. We reconvened in a meadow below a pillow line and drank apple cider. The storm rendered any open space outside the trees blind, and so we decided against the final push to Flower Mountain. As an alternate plan, Woody led us up the Sunshine loop to see what we could find.

Before long we spotted a beautiful stairway pillow on the right side of the trail. Mark and Oskar put in a bootpack, and within a half an hour, I was dropping into a beautiful series of fluffy drops. What a fun, aesthetic run! Three laps on these guys, and three sets of foggy goggles later, and it was time to head back home.

On the way back down the Sunshine Loop trail , I lost concentration and flew off the side of the road into a creek bed. Luckily, both Nellie and I landed upright, but hopelessly lost in a deep drainage below the road. With night closing in, Mark came back to where I was buried, and urged me to leave the sled. Stubbornly, I wanted to dig it out and try to ride it back up to the road. The last bit of light was fading through the trees on the horizon. Humbled and sledless, and I gave in. I rode like a little baby on Mark's sled- almost ten miles home under the power of the headlights.

Flower Mountain would remain illusive, but spirits were high with another great day of unexpected pillows under our belts.