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ski report

Again, from the better-late-than-never file (imagine that it is really February 8th)

So, I’m here in Whistler, BC, finishing up a ski vacation. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten to take my camera anywhere, so I don’t have any pictures. (Others did, however.)

On Friday, I landed in Seattle, met my friends John, Xine, and Andrew and drove up to Whistler. After some excruciating traffic around Vancouver, we arrive. The first skiing related thing that I realize is that I forgot my goggles. Oops. I also forgot my normal Treo headset, which is unfortunate because my phone is going crazy, and using the normal headset un-confuses it. Or so I hope, anyway. So for the whole week here, when I’m talking on my phone, I’m using my helmet.

date = “my” slug = “my/ski-report”

Day 1 (Saturday): We go to Blackcomb. Our place is closest to Blackcomb, and we walk. It is a little further than we would like, and it is raining at the base. Once there, I buy new goggles at the closest store. It snowed a fair amount on Thursday and Friday, and, as a consequence, the snow is pretty deep at the top of the mountain.

We start out by heading straight up. No warm up green or nice groomed blue. Our first run is ostensibly a blue, but we take a wrong turn and head down a black part way down. The snow is so deep, we can’t really tell the difference anyway. This is basically a poor start to the day, and I don’t ever really recover. It is also pretty crowded, and when we break for lunch, Barry and I lose the rest of the crew and end up heading down the base to eat, where maybe there isn’t a giant crowd. The first day is, like normal, pretty exhausting. I think this is because we are finally skiing, so we overdo it a bit. Plus, that first run basically exhausted me, and the rest of the day was just catching my breath.

Day 2: We go to Whistler mountain, taking the packed-in-like-sardines gondola up. This was a pretty good day skiing for me. My technique was good, and I felt relaxed. I also quit while I was ahead.

Day 3: (Monday) Back to Blackcomb. I finally remember to actually wear my Camelbak after filling it and leaving it at the condo two days in a row. It is finally sunny and not incredibly windy, so we head up to 7th Heaven. It is not nearly as busy as it was on the weekend, but going up to 7th Heaven is pretty popular. This is also apparently Sean’s day for “X-treme Skiing”. The skiing up in 7th Heaven is basically a wide-open, semi-bumpy field, and blue to black steepness. There is a nice green cat-track down, however. On our third or fourth trip up, we (or really, Sean) decide to traverse far over to the left, into, if I had actually looked at a map, is marked as double-black territory.

As soon as I get over there, I hit a rock and crash. I was basically still traversing at the point. Both of my skis pop off, and one falls about 10 ft below me. I slide down to get it, and in the process 1) miss my ski, and 2) drop the other one, and 3) slide down about 100 ft. further on my butt. (Note to self: If in a similar situation in the future, do NOT slide down. Instead turn around, and climb down the slope like a ladder, kicking your boots to make steps. Or something like that. I hope I don’t have to test this technique, actually.)

I am rescued by a very competent stranger, who patiently helps me put on the skis. I’m pretty sure that if I had the skill and opportunity I would have done the same, but nevertheless, am very grateful. I take another 10 minutes picking my way down. I decide to skip the next run and go on ahead to lunch. The rest of the day, we stick to mid-mountain stuff, and I stick to groomed runs, giving my body a rest.

Day 4: Instead of skiing, I take an all-day snowboarding lesson with John. We sign up for a “supergroup” lesson, which is a maximum of 3 people. We sign up for the “Novice” level, and basically we do 3 runs on the bunny slope, then three runs on a green run. We all do pretty well on the bunny slope, but the green run is harder and more falling ensues. I fall plenty, but only one slam, no permanent damage (hopefully). On our last green run, however, John manages to both collide with another snowboarder and, later, do a forward slam so hard that his goggles snap in half, scraping his nose. Unfortunately, I was well downhill from this, so I missed it all.

We end the lesson by downloading on two chair lifts. I had actually never downloaded before. The view is pretty nice, however. Afterwards, now free of our rental equipment, John and I wander around shopping. John gets new goggles to replace his shattered ones, and we both get new, swank, Marmot mittens.

Day 5: (Wednesday). I debated doing a half-day snowboard lesson, but decide against it when I realize that it hurts to raise my arms over chest-level. My triceps are so sore that it hurts to open a car door.

I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I could use new ski boots. My old ones were giving me trouble this whole trip, alternately causing foot cramps or feeling too loose. They are 10 years old. I have also decided that if I’m going to continue snowboarding, I could use my own equipment, at least my own boots. My rental boots were too soft, making it hard for me to hold the toe edge. But, also, if I’m going to continue snowboarding, I have to commit to it. I don’t have to stop skiing, exactly, but I need to spend at least one trip only snowboarding. This is a hard decision. As John puts it: “If I can either spend the day doing something frustrating and painful or something I’m halfway decent at, I’m going to choose the latter.”

I have two motivating factors for snowboarding: 1) I like the equipment. The boots are way more comfortable to live in, and walking around is much much nicer only carrying a board, and 2) I actually think that I can end up a better snowboarder than I will ever be a skier. Whatever I decide to do, it gets to wait until next year, however.

Written on Feb 8, 2006.

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