Saturday, March 27, 2010

Confessions of a Wannabe Ski Bunny

I talk about skiing a lot. Skiing's very important to me. I love it. I get depressed if I go too long without doing it. It makes me happy.

Sometimes I worry all this discussion gives off the wrong impression though. It's possible people think I'm good at it. Or trying to pose as good at it. So, here's a disclaimer, world... I am not a good skier.

Seriously. Ever seen one of these 'Easiest Way Down' signs?

Know who they're there for? They're there for me.

This particular sign is at the midpoint of Alpental, one of the base areas run by The Summit at Snoqualmie. It's halfway up, which is as high up the ski area as I've ever been. Not that there's disgrace in that. The lift that goes higher services some of the most challenging terrain in the Northwest, including Upper International, one of the steepest runs in the US. Go the wrong way up there and you may go over a cliff. Go the right way up there and you still might. But hopefully you were expecting it.

This was the first time I made it up the Armstrong Express lift. In the past, I've been happy staying on lower, easier intermediate slopes at Alpental and over at the other Summit bases. I'd done some of the blacks at Summit West, but they scared me less than the blues at Alpie. However, it's late in the season and the resort has slowed down to a crawl. The lower lifts weren't running. West was closed. Central was on its last day of the season because the snow there had thinned out so much. So... Not much choice unless I wanted to put on my touring skis and skin up slopes without a lift. Which I didn't really. So, I wound up here... Looking for the 'easiest way down' signs...

(Photo at the top of Armstrong of the sign showing me the wussiest easiest way down.)

I have very little experience with powder, even less with crud. Most of what I experienced yesterday was crud. Crud, for non-skiers, is like powder in that it's not flattened out by machines after falling out of the sky. But it's snow that people have been skiing over, so it's all choppy and collected into piles. Skiing on it... It's challenging. I'm told the key to skiing in it is patience. Patience is not a virtue I really possess. When I try to turn, I want to turn now. Not in five minutes. It's also important not to panic, but no matter how many times I re-read my Douglas Adams books that never really sinks in to my brain either.

I was possibly the worst skier at Alpental yesterday. But I was never seriously uncontrolled, never in danger, and never close to hurting anyone else, so I'm not going to worry about it. I was practicing something new. My inappropriate rotary techniques left me with sore thighs and at one point I did something really stupid to leave my knee hurting, but I enjoyed myself.

(Photo looking up at my skis after a fall.)

Ironically enough, I was feeling pretty good for several dozen turns before I went sprawling down the hill and was in the position to take this photo, which I call 'Ooops'. I think my mind had started concerning itself with getting over the the lodge rather than with dealing with the snow I was on. As the next picture shows, though, I was fine. And happy. Because while I may suck at skiing, that doesn't stop me from loving it.

(Photo of me smiling and being okay.)

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