Snow Kiting

Snow Kiting

Joe Irons
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The powder in the hood of my jacket is falling down my neck—I need to clear it out, but I just can’t bring myself to stop long enough to do so. The sun is climbing on the horizon and each pass through the snowfield feels better then the last.

I’ve been getting fresh tracks since sunrise: excessive powder turns both uphill and down and long glides flying high off the ground—weightless, using the wind to gage my flight and landing.

A couple hours of fully powered wind conditions with a foot of powder—adrenaline and excitement win over the day and the hours fly by as I make laps up and down the open area. The elation from being pulled through the light snow overwhelms my brain and I continue on with nothing else to occupy my thoughts.

Alpine, my Alaskan malamute, is having the best day ever—it’s great to be a dog in winter. The joy on his ice-covered face from playing in the powder all morning is priceless, and I’m sure he’s figured out I’m having just as much fun as he is.

It dumped all night: a foot of snow in the parking area car can equal two- or three-foot drifts in spots where the wind has blown snow around all night long, creating an abundance of fresh pockets. Throughout, various features produce natural gaps, wind lips, and gullies with waist-deep snow that deliver desirable face-shots.

For me, it’s just another dreamy sunrise session: the storm has passed and the clearing north wind—the kind that allows these perfect sessions—started a few hours ago. I have the entire place to myself, except for the random passing of a car, blowing by like the wind on the mountain pass.

On a day like this, you could kite each gulley for hours with fresh turns the entire time. I track it up as much as I can, creating beautiful patterns in the snow. To a passing car, the mountainside is filled with abstract lines in the snow—to me, it’s a surrealist painting.

Although I want to stay and continue working on my canvas, I move on. There’s an abundance of spots like this one just down the road. I pick up my speed while crossing the flats with nothing to slow me down but a few random sagebrush tops. I start to reach for my hood, but I find that the snow on my neck is already gone... melted... disappeared with the fresh snow under my skis and in the wind.

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