MNRAC Schralptacular pow fest 2014-A browdown of the finest degree

Friends and fun. Nothing more. Myself and a gaggle of buds from the University of Oregon days had a weeklong pow-and-party fest in late February, and my poor, neglected blog is just now seeing a bit of press on the matter.

Dylan arcs a tight turn high in the Sierras

From Alaska, Dylan “Doobie” Fournier made the cross-Canada journey to lead the team in spirit, skiing, and comical sound bites. From Elko, Nevada, Dan “Wody” Norfleet drove west to throw himself in the mix. Erik “Eazy-E” Finne also made a brief cameo from the bay for the weekend finale. The wildcard award certainly went Bradley “Scooch” Scoch, who no one had really seen since our teenage freshman year in the dormitories. Glad you made it Scooch!

Headquartered mainly at Truckee resident Josh “Tdub” Colvin’s apartment, and a bit at my own (Dave “Zook” Zook) house, we proved over and over that nothing much has changed though we have all hit the 30-year-old mark and a few of us may have wives and houses and paid leave and that sort of thing. We reminisced, drank cheap beers, played old card games, ate frozen pizzas, lost money at the casino, and of course skied a lot. Seven straight days we made it, holding the shralp factor as the underlying current that held us true for the week. All this was under the auspices of the governing body of MNRAC, the Midnight Ninja Rider’s Adventure Club, a club of loose sorts, open to the very few, but the very proud.

The final ascent to the hut, under Anderson Peak.

The final ascent to the hut, under Anderson Peak.

The skies cooperated in an eerily flawless manner for the week. We began the trip with a two-night stay at a backcountry hut a few miles outside of Sugar Bowl ski resort. We were joined by non-UO’ers but good peoples nonetheless “Baldo” and “the Apache” for the expedition. We had hot days and mild nights, barely dipping below freezing at night. The mild weather lowered avalanche risk, allowed for easy travel to and from the hut, and made for tremendous morning coffee sipping conditions.

We summited a peak or two (really just one) and made a million fun and smooth turns on creamy spring snow. The basic hut is wedged into the side of Anderson Peak and from the doorstep one can drop into a few different aspects with a dozen different lines possible. No other guests came during our stay, which was a blessing as we were noisily sipping whiskey into the night and cranking our hand-cranked radio, and then sawing massive logs through the night.

"The Apache" standing proud in the sunset

"The Apache" standing proud in the sunset

Returning from the hut tired and weary, we transitioned to the resort portion of the trip. The first day we skied flat light conditions at Squaw as we embraced the outskirts of the the storm front. By the afternoon the light white stuff we all know and love came down over a beat-down, thirsty, and haggard snowpack.

We spent the next three days at Schralpine, AKA Alpine Meadows. “I am an Alpine believer,” pronounced Doobie at the end of the stay. The mellow vibe, creative and steep terrain and ample stashes suited us better than the mega-plex that is Squaw. The fact that we actually rode soft and smooth snow while dear friends made a short visit was a minor miracle given our ‘worst winter in 500 years’ scenario (someone is actually trying to make that case, though it may apply to the calendar year of 2013, but still, it’s been pretty bad), and we thanked our good luck charm team for bringing the goods.

Josh launches the stump, one of a few nighttime jibs.

Josh launches the stump, one of a few nighttime jibs.

The nights in between skiing would seem as though we were trying our hardest to keep us from making it to the mountain the next day. On Thursday night, we hosted a ‘music video character’ theme party and blasted away the night to great tunes while playing mini-flip cup with shots of fireball and other tomfoolery. Our team proved calm and steady-of-hand while our opponents swatted at their cups and sent them flopping and bouncing around the table like fish out of water.

The Friday finale took us to another state, literally and mentally, to lawless Nevada for some gambling, bright lights, and the sweet allure of free gambler's drinks. The week took its toll on our energy reserves but we gave it our all and tried our best attempt to win our beer money back from the trip. In vein however, were said attempts, as we seemed to scratch and crawl our way back from the red to a nice zero sum game, and maybe even a tad to the land of milk and honey and profit…before blowing it all.

“This! Now! This is when we should walk away and go home!” is what we were cognizant enough to announce but foolhardy enough to ignore. Instead we ordered another round late into the night and hemorrhaged our money onto the blackjack table in the last twenty minutes or so. But hey, it was all for fun and no major sums were lost. I think.

Sunset at the Hut

Saturday, our last day as a MNRAC team we did our thing and hit Alpine. New terrain opened and soft powdery turns were had all around. A fitting closing. As the team disbanded, we reflected on the wonderful yet surprising fact that there were no disasters, no injuries, no financial ruin, or anything anywhere near the sort.

Until next year we promised as Dan and Dylan took off to the airport, the others already on the way home. I returned to my casa looking forward to a long night of sleep, hopefully in the double-digit range, hours-wise. As I lay down sore and beat and happy, my phone lights up with a text from Dylan: “Dude I missed my flight, may need a ride from Reno. Sorry.”

Here is a gallery of photos from the hut trip. For better or worse, this was the only segment of the trip that was adequately photographed.


And here is a short edit with mostly helmet cam footage of our 4-day resort domination at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley: