Ski tips #4: More on the best of Goat’s Eye

Back in this post, I described the best part of Goat’s Eye — where it was, what was there, how to get in and how to get out. Proving that you learn something new every day, I recently learned of a part of that space that I was not aware of, called…

Eagle Meadows

Where is it? How do I get in?

Take any of the routes down to the entrance to Tobacco Road from the lower part of Think Again, Renegade, Stampede or Saddledome (the 4 runs to skiers left of Wildside and Farside). Instead of turning right and following Tobacco Road, go straight through an avalanche control gate. This gate is closed pretty much any time the Dive is closed, and is always closed if they are doing control work on Fat Boy. The reason is simple: Eagle Meadows includes the bottom of Fat Boy. If the signs are yellow, the gate is open and you’re welcome to head in.

Eagle Meadows in Red, Tobacco Road in green

I had always been curious about the space. On the trail map, you couldn’t tell if it was in bounds or out of bounds.  In years past, there was no gate. There were, however, “ski area boundary” signs saying it was out of bounds. Cross the boundary rope and the typical rules applied: you were on you’re own, and they generally didn’t do control work back there, hence it wasn’t the safest of places.

However, talking to Snow Safety, Sunshine came to the conclusion that for safety reasons, it should be open and gate controlled. Why? Folks would cross the boundary rope when control work (read really loud explosions) were going off in there (primarily protecting Fat Boy). Technically, folks could ski into the area while it was being controlled and there was nothing Sunshine could do about it. By creating a gate, they can open and close it. In addition, Patrol does a lot of avi protection in the Eagle Basin for Dive users coming out around Fat Boy. By opening Eagle Meadows, more skiers can take advantage of the effort they put into it.

How do I get out?

In this case it’s dead easy: all roads lead to the Eagle Creek run, joining it right where the run splits into the creek proper and the cat track.

What the heck is back there?

Just past the gate…

Straight ahed to the Meadows in red; green to Tobacco Road. Note the buried sign circled

…you roll over into a dip past a bunch of exposed rock avalanche debris (look up and left at the cliff above you to see why).

Rocks poke up; watch out. Head straight, though there’s less chance of rocks on the right.

Then you swing right into a big meadow in the forest.

The Meadow, Part 1. Eagle Creek in the distance on the left

You can ski the forest on the left or right (the forest on the right is accessed by dropping in anywhere along Tobacco Road) but the trees are mighty dense. The pitch in the meadow is perfect for happy powder riding.

At the end of that meadow, drop left through a slot in the trees and you land on an occasionally groomed cat track on a flat at the base of Fat Boy.

Follow the red. Aim for the circle. Fat Boy in blue

Looking back from close to Eagle Creek

Snowboarders beware: all the tucking in the world will not get you across this flat. It’s ironing board  flat. It’s long. You will take your board off and walk. Please try not to walk on the ski tracks.

Skiers beware: if snow has fallen overnight, the cat track will have powder on it, and skating will be nigh on impossible. You get to practice your double polling. Suck it up. I really feel for you if you get to break trail by getting first tracks on the flat (as I have done on several occasions). It’s a tiring grunt. Normally, there will be at least one set of tracks on the flat from Patrol.

Is it worth it?

Heck yes, at least once on a powder day. Suck up the flat. However, you’re only really gaining 300′ or so of vertical compared to ducking out Tobacco Road, but (on a powder day) it’s so much like heli skiing that you gotta try it.

After doing it once, you can decide if the flat is worth it. Normally, I’m good for two in there. Interestingly, the deeper the powder, the more the exit grunt is a turnoff. So I really like going in there when 10-15 cm has fallen, but find it less appealing with 25 cm due to the amount of work needed on the flat. And I now will NOT take first tracks on a 25+ cm day, because breaking trail on the flat is just too much work.

2015 Update:

Eagle Meadows has been renamed Snuffy and now appears on trail maps. Nothing else has changed.