My birthday was on Tuesday, so I decided to treat myself, as I often do on my birthday, to a new adventure. On my 50th birthday, for example, I went river rafting for the very first time. Well, this was my 57th birthday, and I have been saying for some time that if I don't learn to downhill ski pretty soon it may be too late! I had never tried it before, although I have cross country skied quite a bit over the past 9 winters.
I went on Wed. since the weather had improved. I bought the whole day package because it included two lessons, instead of only one.
I couldn't believe the weight of the equipment compared to cross country skis and boots! I put it all on and made my way over to the base of the bunny hill. The instructor was a man named Mike, a former special forces person. Nice guy, quite patient. I managed to sort of learn what he was trying to teach me--there was one other student, a woman in her late 30's from North Carolina. However, we didn't realize until we went up the big lift how little I had caught on to doing a right turn. When I saw how steep it was, I just about crapped my high tech North Face bib overall pants! I could pull off the left turn ok, but not the right. A couple of times I got completely out of control and went flying down the slope! I was glad then that I had cross country skied before, because it came in handy as I was flying off to a trail that went to the side. I was lucky the trail was there! (At least, I didn't do a "Bono!") I don't think the teacher was too pleased with me at that point. I kept saying, "This is not like cross country skiing at all!" It isn't, as far as the turns are concerned anyway. My experience in having the long boards attached to my feet did help a little, though.
I managed to catch on to the right turn by the time we were almost to the bottom of the green run. So then, I went to lunch and afterward went straight to my second lesson. A woman teacher this time, named Renee. She was really nice. She had a totally different teaching style and was able to see where I was messing up on the turns. We practiced sideslipping and turns on the bunny hill. I was scared all over again, though, when we went up the big lift. Even though there were few people there that day, it would only take one snowboarder to kill you. We practiced side slipping down the steepest of those runs--they are the green runs but they do have some short steep parts. I FINALLY got the right turn down quite a bit better.
When the lesson was over it was 2 p.m., and I had two hours left on my lift ticket. But I was afraid to go way up there without the instructor. So I went up the bunny lift, over and over again, for about an hour or so, and practiced my turns, trying for the parallel turn.
Unfortunately, I got started with this at the end of the season. Tomorrow Sunrise is closing.
Sometime, I plan to get myself a pair of mountaineering skis, such as the Fischer Outtabounds. They are short, wide cross country skis that are made for turning. Heftier boots and cable bindings that give you the option of clamping the heel down or not, depending upon what you are doing. You can ski both Pole Knoll and Sunrise with them.
So this is my plan: learn to downhill well, and then translate the skills to ski mountaineering. I doubt I can ever get used to crowds, but in order to learn the skills I would be willing to buy a season pass and spend at least one winter going to Sunrise to improve, get a few more lessons. Not sure if we will spend the winter up here next year or not, though.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.