Friday, January 06, 2017

Fabulous snow yesterday for skiing!

I had the ticket voucher for several weeks as it's a better deal the further out they are purchased at Liftopia. Snowbird had a lot of pleasant memories for me from my youth as that was the place I actually learned how to ski. My first time skiing had been to Alta, and I had known nothing and had basically pointed my skis down the hill and gone. My second time skiing was with a group of friends from work, and one older girl had taken some of us newbies under her wing and had taught us the basics of snow plowing, stem christies, and how to fall without getting hurt (in other words, she taught us that if you get out of control, fall on purpose). And there was that other time I went to Snowbird when I was younger when the wind chill at the top where the Tram let us off was 50 below. Think about that for a minute.
It was with those thoughts in mind that I anticipated this return to Snowbird after about 40 years. This past week got to be real exciting as the snow storms kept piling up. Wednesday night, another storm rolled in dumping over a foot at the resort and several inches in the valley. Because of avalanche control, the canyon wasn't going to open until 8:00 Thursday morning, so, I thought I'd leave home at 8:00 to avoid the line up of cars. Boy, was that ever a mistake!
The snow storm that had happened the night before had left its effects on commuters and the trip across the valley that normally takes twenty minutes, took an hour and a half. Part way there, while stuck in a slow moving line of cars, I mentioned on Facebook that at this rate, I'd make it to the resort at 11:00. At the time, I didn't realize how prophetic I was.
Still, I was happy, but really anticipating getting up on the slopes.
Snowbird has three places of entry and I had no idea where to go, but both the first and second one had "tickets" on the signs (I needed to exchange my voucher for a ticket). I chose entry two, found a parking place and began getting dressed. I basically had to add layers, and put on my ski boots. When it came time to putting on the boots, I had a hard time with the right one, and the left one was nearly impossible. I began to wonder if my feet had grown a size or two. I had worn some thinner socks, but they weren't really all that slinky, and I just couldn't get that left one to go in. After about five minutes of working on it, I was beginning to think I would have to find the ski shop and rent some equipment. I remembered that I had another pair of socks in my 4runner. They were thicker, but slicker. I put one of them on my left foot and was finally able to get the boot on, though not without a lot of strain. I added "ski socks" to my list of things to buy in the near future, and when I got home, read a bunch of tips on how to get your stubborn boots on.
With my boots finally on, I began hiking up the hill to the ticket office the sign had directed me to. There was a shuttle, but it never came by when I was hiking and it was probably a quarter mile hike to the ticket office from there. Once there, I had the opportunity to look at the map of the resort and decide where I was going to start. I decided to spend my time on the easier runs at first, until I got adjusted to the conditions. Frankly, during all of my recent times skiing, I hadn't ever skied on this much new snow and I remembered how grooves are easily cut in the snow by other skiers and boarders and how I tend to catch an edge of my own skis on these grooves from time to time, and go toppling down the slope.
I exchanged my voucher for a ticket and asked how to get to the lift I wanted to ride up. The easy area was back where I had parked. I had to hike over a bridge and up a hill before putting on my skis and going down. Wow that new snow was affecting me more than I realized! I was all wobbly, just like a newbie. I got to the lift and rode it up (I was on the lift at 11) and my first run was a crazy run of wobbliness.
Halfway down my second run, I figured out that I had failed to buckle my boots. Just try skiing with boots that aren't secured and you'll see how tough it is. The thing is, this is the second  time I have done that. It's easy to do if I'm not thinking because I don't like to walk very far with them tightened, so I loosen them (or in this case, since I was walking a long distance to the ticket office, never did them up in the first place) and then forget to tighten them.
It was cold, and the goggles I had acquired from a yard sale in the summer got ice on them too easily, so I just wore them on my forehead for the rest of the day.
The weather let up for a while and the peaks looked amazing

I had a few really nice runs after that. I had decided that I was going to stick to the easy runs for about ten runs, then move on to the intermediates, but on about my fifth run, I got whacked pretty good in the back of my calf with the chair lift as I was getting on. My very next run, the same thing happened only worse. My leg was hurting like I had a bad charley horse in it. After the 7th run I took a short break to eat the sandwich I had brought for lunch, I had no water with me and it was quite a time consuming hike back to my vehicle for the water, so I went without.
After lunch I put my skis back on and promptly fell. Other people were standing around there, and thankfully pretended not to notice. It was the only spill I took all day.
The skiing was great for the next few runs, though my leg still hurt, and the sun even came out for a few minutes. I made it a point to ask the lift operator where I should stand, because I wasn't sure if I was standing in the right place after getting hit by the lift twice. I guess I had gotten myself a little too far forward. I didn't get hit again for the rest of the day.
It snowed heavily periodically, lightly periodically, and then the fog rolled in. I could look down and see my skis easily, so I knew my glasses weren't fogged up, but seeing down the slope was nearly impossible. There were still other skiers zooming around me, and I had no idea how they could go that fast in the fog. I guess it's the same reasoning of people driving to fast for conditions in fog. I had completed 13 runs, my thighs were burning, and my calf hurt. I wanted to reach my goal of at least twenty, but I had no idea if the fog was going to lift, and I wasn't having fun at that point skiing where I couldn't see.
In the half hour it took me to get to my vehicle and get my stuff off, the fog lifted. I was worried that would be what would happen, but I wasn't going to try and put the boots back on again. I had had a lot of fun, despite all the interesting things that happened. I had learned a little about where things are at Snowbird, in case I get the chance to go there again, and I had been up in my beloved mountains in the fresh snow, feeling gravity pulling at me in a far different way than I had felt in the night before when I had been rock climbing. And that, is what adventure is all about. I can't wait for the next one.

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