The convoluted peaks that have become known as Galena are generally steep, rockier than the rest of the Columbias, heavily forested below treeline, and exposed and steep above treeline. Once skiers discovered the adventures waiting in Galena, the name became synonymous with technical skiing through old-growth forests in over-the-head powder.
This is not the place to stand at the bottom of a run and admire your perfect tracks. Most of the time you look back and see three or four turns – or one. It’s not only the trees; the undulating terrain prevents the picturesque but somehow homogeneous ‘heli-spooning’ so common in other areas, where each skier lays their track right next to the track before them.
To ski safely in Galena, skiers are expected to take on a bit more responsibility for their skiing than in areas where the guides can more often watch the skiers as they descend. Many runs descend truncated ribs, narrow ridges that split into two or more ridgelines with steep faces in between. Imagine following the edge of a massive pyramid that is cleaved off partway down the edge, leaving two edges. A skier who chooses a trajectory one degree different from the group on top can end up on the wrong edge, leading to an entirely different side of the mountain and ending at the bottom of the valley several kilometers away from the rest of the skiers.
Galena terrain brings the best out of guides and guests. The guides typically explain the run from the top and point out the pickup and specific hazards before disappearing from sight in a ball of swirling snow crystals. It would be easy to mistake their hell-bent blast to the next strategic stopping spot as irresponsible, but in fact their reasoning is just the opposite.
From Bugaboo Dreams by Topher Donahue
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