Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Reindeer Games

I apologize for the long gap between posts. I received mild criticism for talking too much about the weather (Lep) so I've been refraining from waxing poetic on the wind, the snow, the cold of winter. Yet I realized most of the recent news in my life is weather related so you'll just have to deal with it.

I was bubbly all last week in anticipation of a ski day at Winter Park with my sister and her husband. I checked the weather reports religiously and rubbed my hands as I saw a big storm sitting over the mountains for days, ready to break into sunshine on Saturday. Fresh powder was everywhere, just begging to be played in! Yet unfortunately high winds followed the storm and made the mountains dangerous with whiteout conditions and severe risk of avalanche. Recall the massive avalanche that knocked some cars off the road near Berthoud Pass a month ago under similar conditions; this was our route to Winter Park. So in the end the transportation officials closed the pass and we had to postpone our super-fun ski day. Steve and I tried to go to a different resort by ourselves so as not to waste the day, but more avalanches closed the main mountain road and we spent two painful hours parked in a 10-mile long traffic jam. Crikey, where are we? LA??

We weren't to be detered, however, not with so much fresh snow, so we head back up the hill on Sunday to A-Basin, which was boasting 14 new inches. On the way up over Loveland Pass I witnessed a counter-culture of punkish youths out skiing the backcountry. They would start near the top of the pass (12,000 ft) and ski or ride down until they met up with the lower switch backs of the road, where they'd then hitch a ride back up to the top. I wonder, are they in it for the thrill of a new challenge or are they too cheap to pay for lift tickets? Regardless, it was very entertaining watching them carve insane jumps into the hillside and making videos for proof of their ballsy adventures.

On to A-Basin. By this point I've been skiing a grand total of seven days in my life and, if I may say, I'm not too shabby. I'd done my first black run with great success at Breckenridge a couple of week previous so I was feeling confident about my abilities. Everyone goes nuts for powder, so I figured I'd have an amazing time today. My first clue that something was amiss was riding the lift and watching skier after skier wipe out below me. Then it was my turn. Where once I felt confident, cocky even, I was now terrifyingly unstable and out of control. Skiers before me had carved my favorite run into a sea of powder-soft moguls, creating a formidable landscape. All my skillz for a nicely groomed trail failed me as I came up with really interesting new ways to fall. My least favorite was a kind of cartwheel when my ski twisted into the snow; luckily my boot popped out of the binding before I did any real damage to my knee. (Yes, I'm ok, please just pretend you didn't see anything.) It was a humbling and frustrating experience that made me realize that I still have a long way to go in my skiing education. But then to put a happy note on the end of the day, Steve and I head over to the terrain park to play on the jumps. For the first time ever I caught air as I sailed over a roller and a set of two small jumps. And by small I mean they were about three feet, but I don't care! I did it and it was exhilerating. X-Games, here I come.

We are really making the most of our first winter back in Colorado. We are planning at least three more skiing trips to Vail, Breckenridge, and Winter Park before the season is out. Additionally, this weekend we are going on the first of two backcountry snowshoeing hut trips I've planned. I miss all the folks in LA but I'm really glad we made the move because Colorado suits our lifestyle so well. Already I'm dreaming of fun summer adventures in the months to come!