Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Best ski days 2007-8 season, part 1

During a meeting with one of my colleagues yesterday, I realized that mentally I am not nearly as occupied with skiing like I was just a few weeks ago. Of course he wanted to talk about the important stuff before getting down to business, including a trip report from his spring break in Colorado. I felt a bit sheepish because skiing hadn't crossed my mind until he brought it up.

Ski season is not officially over, but night skiing has ended and soccer season has begun, which means not enough time to ski after work and every Saturday is bisected by a game. I hope to still get out for some backcountry, but I think lift-served is over with the exception of taking my son to Snowbird when we're in Utah later this month.

So I thought it would be a good time to do a retrospective on the season and talk (brag) about my favorite days this year.

Opening weekend was great, but the really good skiing didn't start until we went to Utah for the holidays. I had a couple of good days during the "planned" portion of our stay, but Sunday, Dec. 30th, when we were supposed to leave, a huge storm rolled in and made driving a bad idea. The two good things about this were that I got to stay and ski on the 31st, and the storm brought new snow with it. Curtis, Trent, and I headed up to Alta and enjoyed first tracks right under the lift until at least noon. When they opened up Catherine's area, we headed over there, but so did everybody else, so we had to hike to our stashes to find the goods. Would have been great had Greeley or the castle opened, but both looked like powderkegs ready to go at any moment, an opinion that was confirmed when we asked patrol if they'd be dropping the ropes.

The next weekend was my first backcountry day. We went up to Idaho City and enjoyed untouched fall line skiing in knee-deep snow. Unfortunately, we didn't really know our way around well enough (which is probably why it was untouched), and ended up with a long traverse followed by a longer boot pack to get out. Still absolutely worth it, and the cardio workout I'm sure did me some good.

January was a really fantastic month for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, it snowed. A lot. My most memorable 24 hours were night skiing on a Tuesday and finding fresh until they kicked us out for the night. It snowed all while we were there, and the wind was blowing, so I knew the snow would be redeposited all night. I went in to work early the next day, got some stuff done and then left at 8:30 a.m. Made it to the mountain almost in time for first chair, but school had been canceled due to the snow, so all the students and teachers that couldn't make it to school somehow managed to drive the 16 miles and 3,000 vertical feet from the valley up to the mountain. Didn't matter because it was going off for as long as I could stay. I found a stash right where the wind had put all the snow the night before, it was knee to waist deep, and nobody was touching it. I had so many face shots and so much time in the white room that the snow was sticking to anything it could. This photo was taken 20 minutes after my last run of the day, and you can see how much snow was sticking to me. Note that the only reason I'm not smiling is because I was concentrating too intently on taking a self-portrait. I did not stop smiling the rest of the day.

January was also great because it was a breakthrough time for my son's skiing (he's three years old). When we started the year, he was pretty tentative and wanted me to hold on to him the entire time. The best I could do was ski ahead of him a bit and then have him ski to me. While trying to do this, he skied right past me and down to the bottom of the hill, where he crashed in a heap. I was mortified and thought for sure that was the end of our day. Instead, as soon as I got to him and helped him up, he proudly exclaimed "daddy, I goed fast all by myself!" As a parent, that is one of my proudest moments.

I knew it was a good ski season before I started writing about it, but I didn't realize it would take so much space to write about, even just the "good parts" version. So I'll pick this up tomorrow and tell you about the truly epic day at Solitude, introducing a couple of Euros to tree skiing, and seeing a disappointed three year old when the lifty told him "last run."

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