December 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
November 29, 2014 § 4 Comments
I’ve had these Hincapie socks for seven years and they’ve only now just torn a bit at the heel. The expensive-gear-is-worth-it-because-it-lasts-longer lesson is one that took me a long time to learn, and these socks were a big part of. Warm, quick dry, sturdy… If I had to marry a pair of socks, I’d totally pick you to marry Hincapie socks.
Essentials: Sewing kit, tea, things to sew
Lesson two to buying expensive gear is of course that if you’re kind of a space cadet and lose things like I do, you’re out a bunch of money. I’ve been scouring the internet for an affordable ski coat replacement and finally found one last week … with no thumbholes. Fortunately thumbholes are a lot like buttonholes, and there are British men on the internet that are very good at teaching one how to sew buttonholes. (But like, seriously, this guy is a sewing wizard, right?)
The stitching is kind of shitty but it’s functional.
Just need some ski goggle defogger and I’ll be fully ready for ski season … SO STOKED!
In other unrelated news, I went for a run today and had to poop almost the entire time. How do long distance runners deal with this? Do they just stop and poop? Your body is like “hey, I know it’s 32 degrees out and you just got dressed and amped to go for a run, but uhhh once you started hopping up and down..I realized I kinda need to go back and poop.” This must be what having little kids on long car rides is like.
February 18, 2014 § 2 Comments
Meet Peter, he’s from Austria and has been skiing since he was four. The way he describes his experience skiing fits in pretty will with how he actually looks skiing – like a fucking swan gliding pristinely over a misty lake in the morning sunrise. It’s gorgeous, it’s disgusting. Compare to my description of snowboarding, “And I’m like, carve, carve, carve, focus, cut, stabilize, yeah!”
Unfortunately for Peter, most of us on our most recent ski trip were into easy to moderately challenging blues – some because of skill limitation, some because of laziness. So for the first four days, we shredded some mild gnar, pounded only a little bit of pow pow, and mostly drank bacon bloody marys at the bottom of the mountain. Fortunately, Snowmass is a big ol’ beast of a mountain and Aspen Mountain gave the more adventurous of us a lot to explore.
We’d been eyeing a run all week called Long Shot (left side of the mountain,) and Peter had scoped it out, but I had held off until the snow hit on the last day. It was a total white-out and the sky had been letting loose all night. We took the gondola up, boarded down a little hill (what’s the proper word choice here given that other folks were on skis? sboarded?), unbuckled and took the short hike up to the run.
The top part of the run looked like all trees, with more power and more tree density on the left side of the run (a double black on any mountain not in Colorado) and more of an Aspen blue on the right side. I haven’t been in hip deep powder since I was learning to board (didn’t move much, but got a looooot of exercise flailing in snow – surprise!) so I was inclined to the more blue looking run, but Peter was confident that the tree-powder would be easier, fewer mogul type things for a snowboard to navigate. Our other friends zipped off to the right, I followed down the left.
Sliding down like butter, it was almost too easy – except for the dense trees coupled with weak skills resulting in an inability to carve to a stop that is – POWDER FACE! Peter paused, “Is this a good pace?”
“Sure,” I said. It was fine, but the path down looked more treacherous.
“Okay cool – well at the bottom of this there’s a creek, don’t try to board over it! You have to walk. Got it?”
He floated down, zipping between trees. Welp. Not much of a choice now…SWAH – POW .. pffffff…. My goggles are filled with snow, face dripping. Pack the powder down around me, grab at tree branches. Flop. Woosh. Stare up in a moment of zen. Cut, jump, slide, SLAM. Breathe out. It’s like doing push up sets with some squats inbetween.
On the third full body powder pound, I found myself thigh deep with my board on, the only one in the woods with giant snowflakes drifting down through a mist of fog, muttering that I was going to kill Peter. I decide to take off my board and swim-crawl-trudge to the blue run – the idea of more of this plus a creek to avoid seemed terrible; it’s no more than 200 feet, but it feels like a century ride uphill. By the time I get there, I’m ready for my bloody mary, but there’s a whole mountain in the way.
That’s the thing about physical activity that isn’t at the gym or around your house. You end up out in the middle of wherever. It’s not necessarily life threatening. It’s probably barely even dangerous. But you’re definitely there, and whether you’re friends are out there with you waiting for the next wave break or peddling up that mountain, at the end of the day, you’ve gotten yourself there and no one but you can get you out.
There’s no quitting. There are no shortcuts.
So, I power up and powder down. It’s a open mouth, tongue lolling ride with stretches of untouched powder, cut with hard drops and moguls. There’s no one else on the run, all of our group already long gone. I howl as a blast down, a lone wolf on a thrill hunt, all my curses at Peter forgotten.
At the bottom at the flats, I hitch a pole ride from some skiiers and stumble into the lodge.
Just barely, but with an important lesson learned. Don’t follow Austrians down mountains.
January 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
Went to the snow in California for the first time last week at Mountain High in the San Bernadino Mountains. Overall a good day, but doubt I’d do it again there.
Left San Diego at 6AM after a bender in the OC that took till five in the morning. Traffic was clear until we got up in the mountain where the last 6 miles took half an hour. At around 9AM we get to the west resort and are met by a nice parking attendant, a mass of cars rows deep, and drive by a throng of probably 200 people in line for lift tickets. Oh yeah, I forgot, I live in southern California and it’s the holiday season.
For a day up it rounds off to about a hundred bucks for rentals and a pass. We get through the lift ticket and rental line in about an hour. The staff were efficient, friendly, and just chatty enough given the back-up.
I take my sister and Dad up the conveyor belt only to be met by about 25 people sliding into each other down a tiny bunny slope – all on snowboards. We manage a couple of shaky toe and heel turns without running into anyone before I decide to take them up a green before somebody got clocked by a 12 year old flailing wildly down the bunnies.
The lift (Snowflake) had a line the size of Kansas – a random agglomeration of people in some semblance of a line, a good third who haven’t figured out how to stop yet as they attempt to queue up. I’d say the average wait time for 3/4 of the lifts was 20 minutes. It being SoCal, you’re standing around in all your ski gear baking in the sun with all your zippers down from your armpits to your ankles.
The mountain itself is pretty small – the longest runs are maybe a fifth of the longest in Aspen. 80% of the folks there are on snowboards and the day we went a good half of those looked like fish out of water.
Going up the green lifts (Snowflake, Roadrunner, Coyote) are like looking down on a wasteland during a zombie apocalypse – a ton of folks sitting or lying down, looking down the mountain trying to figure out why they went up and how the hell they’re going down, the rest wobbling around alternating from going way too fast for comfort to a sloppy heel break trying to miss all the sitting people spotted down the mountain.
The top is the bowl of the mountain and the hardest stuff – steep blacks and one long blue that ends in the mess of a green and some easy jumps. This was the longest and least busy lift (Conquest) – we waited no more than 5 minutes to get up.
The south lift (Blue Ridge Express) is mostly blues and a few blacks – a mixture of slightly better folks who can make it down something steeper without crying who are trying to get away from the mess so they can actually learn something, and your locals and pro-boarders doing tricks on the various rails and jumps littered down the runs.
This is probably a more fun mountain when less crowded, but I gotta say that three years of Aspen has spoiled me completely. Short runs, blues that may as well be greens, a boat load of people, and not a shred of powder in sight. On the plus side, on my last run I got down to the greens and tried an easy jump AND landed it – my first! Maybe I’ll try Big Bear before the season’s over …
Sea of snowboards and not a ski in sight.