Tuesday, November 25, 2014

11/24/14 Yikes!!!

A moderate-sized storm had just hit the area and information about the high alpine was hard to come by. Many of our wonderful information services don’t start operating until the opening of the ski area. Local rumor was that the storm had dropped more snow than expected especially above 5000 ft. Sometimes in life it is best to gather your own data! So I headed out to the road to hitch-hike up to the hill. It really felt like the first day of the season and I was on a high of joyous emotions.  I savored the walk out to the road trying to take it all in! Who would pick me up today?
The answer came in the form of a monster truck, the only monster truck to ever pick me up hitch-hiking! I had to use both hands and pull myself up into the back seat. Jason, the driver, and his family, were heading up to go sledding. The road was nasty and I was happy to be in a big safe truck. The daughters in the back seat sang Christmas tunes and I was filled with loving holiday feelings as I headed out into the snowy haze.
No rocks on the cat tracks!
After a warm up lap out to Artist Point I headed back in to the ski resort to the Chicken Ridge zone. The snow was sooo deep! Boot packing was really tiring in the knee to waist-high snow, but the excitement of the day was helping me charge to the top. I picked a line I have ridden nearly a hundred times, a favorite of mine, and crept over to look to see if the rollover was rocky or if the chute was smooth. It looked amazing- like a perfect marshmallow slide for me to play on! I was way too excited! I didn’t stop to ask myself why it looked so good and I paid the price.  I dropped through the chute and as I made a nice soft turn I saw spider cracks of snow below me! The face had fractured and very quickly I was picked up by a small avalanche! Snow went over my head and pushed me downhill through a section of small trees. As I pushed my way out of the snow 50 ft from where the snow fractured I realized how lucky and stupid I was at the same time. I was really lucky to not get seriously injured and really stupid not to think about the wind loading that made that chute look so good.

Needless to say I was not the happiest with myself afterwards, but decided to stay positive and learn from the experience. A great lesson learned on the importance of controlling the preseason excitement. My dinged shoulder will remind me tomorrow to slow down and just have fun! Special thanks to Rusty Buchanan for the ride home in his trusty rig.

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