It’s been a long time since I was on skis; 18 months to be precise. Last winter I spent all my free time (and more) running my way into some semblance of fitness for Bighorn. No, the last time I was on planks was in May of 2014 when I made a ski descent of Horseshoe Mountain. It wasn’t super-pretty, but I wore skis the whole way down and only fell about ten times. Technicalities count, right?
This winter: no ridiculous ultra training, time to get back on the snow. After thirteen punishing weeks of teaching and with a large winter storm and gluttonous holiday on the horizon, the time was right to reacquint myself with the backcountry skis.
As usual, I headed for East Portal to shake out the bugs in the system and remember which end of the skis pointed forward. It’s a good spot with typically good snow and some great treeline glades up high near Rogers Pass and Heart Lakes.
It was a bit of a slog up to tree line, but the weather was great and the snow surprisingly lush for this time of year. I had a lovely sandwich before switching into downhill mode. Ah, first time on skis in a long time! Whee! But I wobbled and fell and wobbled and fell some more on even the wide-open terrain up near the lakes. By the time I got down into the trees, it was terrifying and hopeless. I persisted through the low-angle stuff until the junction with the Crater Lakes trail. After that I chickened out and re-donned my skins to slow me down a little on the steep, icy, narrow tree runs down to the big meadow.
Was I always this bad at backcountry, or is this a new thing? It’s a poor workman that blames his tools, but perhaps my skis are horrendously unsharp or something. Maybe it’s just the first trip of the season that is to blame. I need to get into ski shape and get out there again… or maybe something a little more mellow on skis a little beefier and easier to control.
Still, it’s hard to find fault with a beautiful day in a beautiful location and I’m thankful I have the ability to (more or less) do this sort of thing. Here’s to a winter of more time on skis.