• First Ski of the Year!

    by  • January 24, 2012 • Events, News • 0 Comments

    I am considering resigning my position as “Premier Beach Bum of Northwest Washington” and applying for the “Premier Ski Bum of Southwest British Columbia” position.

    David‘s birthday was on Friday, the 20th, and he kindly invited me to tag along for the ride — a day at Cypress Mountain, and then another day at Grouse.  It was my first visit to Cypress, but I can PROMISE you it won’t be my last — if nothing else, I want to go back so I can see this view in person:

    Bluebird View from Cypress Mountain

    What I saw while I was there mostly looked like this:

    When we were done, we did the best we could to squeeze all the rainwater out of our gloves and hats and pants and underpants and retreated to the car.  On the way, we were nearly skewered alive by 40mph sleet, which undid all the squeegee work we’d just finished at the lodge.  In the car, I sacrificed my vintage copy of Star Trek 5 (The Paperback) to soak up the 6 gallons of ice-water that proceeded to dribble from our clothing.

    Bottom line: while the slopes themselves were awesome as long as you didn’t stop moving long enough to cool down, the frigid dismount was excruciating.  I consider myself relatively impervious to foul weather; by the time I got in the car, I was on the brink of crying like a little girl.

    Also, I did my first black run.  On accident.

    It was kind of painful.

    That night, we determined that we would do anything we had to do to avoid slush, which is why we hit Whistler instead of Grouse on Saturday…  along with 25,000 other skiers and boarders, 4,000 marijuana legalization activists, 2,500 french language snobs, and a contingent of 1,800 Baptist ministers who had been tragically misdirected on their way to a bible conference in Memphis.

    Despite an early start, lousy road conditions and congestion turned the trip into a 2 hour and 45 minute slog from North Vancouver.  Somehow, we ended up behind a white van with a “School Bus” label.  Someone had scratched the words “Fun Bus” into the thick layer of dust and grime immediately below it.   Here’s how the boys from the “Fun Bus” roll:

    when you have to go

    When you have to go

    Although I was initially disgusted by this, I did eventually plow the flex into a snowbank, haul myself over the guardrail, and find a nice patch of virgin snow protected from the view of passing traffic.  It was a euphoric moment, and I suspect I weighed about 12 pounds less when I got back into the car.  Hey, less weight means less fuel burned on the way up the mountain, right?

    In Whistler, it took nearly another 2 hours to load my EDGE card, rent my gear, and wade through the long upload lines from Creekside…  but then, miraculously, we were standing outside Raven’s Nest looking down Expressway.  With contented sighs, we exchanged satisfied looks and pushed off.  Aaaaaand down I went like a sack of potatoes.  And again.  And again.  Turns out one of my skis wouldn’t fit properly into my boot so that I could turn left, but not right.  Bad start!  Fortunately, David had the patience to analyze the situation (it was the ski, not the boot) and figure out which adjustment made the difference.  He tightened the length binding by one setting, and everything worked.  It required one more adjustment later in the day, but seemed solid enough to trust, even on moguls.

    Whistler truly is a magical place.  On this particular day, there was a curtain of grey cloud over its midsection.  Below that, the village was getting a light but steady deluge of big, wet flakes, and the slopes were just a teensy bit slushy — you wouldn’t get wet falling into them a few times, but you could feel the snowmass hugging your skis.  Above, a high overcast broke occasionally to reveal patches of blue sky, the wind from the southwest was irregular, gusty, and bitingly cold, and the snow was perfect, perfect powder, drifting deep on the fringes of the runs.  Occasionally, coming down, you’d pop through a gap in the cloud layer and and see the whole valley stretched out below you and…  oh, that is magical.  I can’t find a picture online that does it justice.  You can’t fit that much of creation into a 12 or 15 megapixel box and call it anything more than a mnemonic.

    After a greasy Village lunch, we barely managed to get back up  the mountain  in time to ski down to Creekside where we were parked.  We had just left Midstation down Crossroads and were just turning onto Franz’s trail into the first direct sunlight of the day when — with a click, clack! of finality — my ski binding flew off.  Which is why  I ended the trip scooting down the last 2,000 feet or so on my butt.  Using one ski as a sled and the other as a hand-rail, I could at least make good time on the steeper slopes, but it was not exactly what I’d call a dignified exit.

    Next time, I’ll have my way with Franz.  Until then, I will nurse my bruised buttocks and search for the passport and two phones I lost on my way home =(

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