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Skiing

2013 Season Wrap-Up

I owe this fantastic ski season to my wonderful wife who sat at home baking a baby while I was off many weekends enjoying the snow! Next season will be remarkably different, but this year I got a season pass to Crystal Mountain and made great use of it. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a season pass there, and I absolutely loved it. It’s my favorite place to ski in Washington, and doing it with a pass made it even sweeter.

Highlights of the season include spending a couple days with Jay, getting new skis, and skiing with Tim and Chelsea. There are still a couple amazing runs that I can remember turn for turn. What a season! November and December saw heavy snows before it dried up through February with another return to blizzards in March.

This year ended up tied with 2006-07 for the biggest ski season I’ve ever had. I racked up over a quarter million vertical feet and spent 13 days on the slopes. I had hoped to get a few more days than that but some minor surgery left me on the sidelines for a few weeks in January and February. Luckily it coincided with the dry spell so I didn’t miss any big powder days.

I carried a GoPro camera around this season though I didn’t have it on my helmet all the time. I edited together a few of my favorite clips which you can see embedded below from YouTube.

March Powder

As we came back from our vacation last Wednesday, I checked the forecast and saw that it was dumping in the mountains. I immediately emailed work, told them I was going to extend my vacation by one more day and recruited a friend from work to come with me. (Safety first, ski and ride with a buddy on deep days!)

We headed to Crystal for the first big powder day since December and we weren’t disappointed! They had received about two feet in the last day and a half and roughly 8” overnight. We started by going towards High Campbell but it wasn’t open yet so instead of waiting in line, we took three untracked runs down the Forrest Queen lift. Then we headed over to check out Green Valley and poked around there until Northway opened. Once the Northway light turned green, we headed over to gate 5 and dropped into Paradise Bowl. That has probably been my favorite run all season, but Thursday was by far the best I’ve ever seen it. The snow was bottomless and untracked. My new skis were completely fantastic in the deep snow and I flew down to the bottom with snow bouncing up into my face. For our next run we clicked out of our gear and took the hike up to the top of Morning Glory bowl. Another run of fresh turns were a nice reward for the hike. Before we knew it, it was 2pm and we decided to call it a day. The GoPro was out for just about every run and if I do a season edit then I’m sure some of these runs will make it into the video.

It was easily the best day I’ve had since December and one of the best days I’ve had all season. Thanks to AndyM for coming along and sharing it with me! Looking at the forecast this might be the last big powder day of the season.

Jay’s Cliff

When Jay was out here, we were poking around in Morning Glory Bowl at Crystal. I haven’t spent much time back there and wasn’t a very good guide. We ended up on top of a cliff. I hiked out and came down the easy way but Jay decided to make his way down. Unfortunately he was facing the wrong way, decided to unclick from his skis to turn around, and … well… that’s where the video starts. Thanks to Jay for giving me the thumbs up to post this video. I originally held off because I feel a bit bad for doing nothing but laugh at him, especially since this was partially intentional. My fall the day before was quite a bit worse and was completely unintentional. And at the end of that one he collected my gear and brought it down to me. When he fell, I was already down the hill and just watched him hike back up. I’m such a good friend.

On the way home, Jay realized that he didn’t have his phone. Using my phone, we pulled up the “Find My iPhone” page and the GPS said it was sitting at the bottom of this cliff. Luckily it still had enough juice that he could erase it remotely. Maybe we’ll have to hike this area in the summer and see if we can find it but the odds seem pretty low.

Jay’s Visit

When I moved out to Seattle, Jay and I went from roommates to pen pals, but we still try to get together in person every year or two. A couple weekends ago, Jay flew out here for a few days.

The first two days were spent skiing at Crystal. Unfortunately the day before he got here, the weather got really warm and the snow melted all the way to the peaks at the resort. It then froze overnight leaving us with some really hard packed snow. We stuck to the north faces of the hills and found some stuff that was soft enough to keep us entertained, and of course it was nice to be riding ski lifts together again.

He got to witness the biggest fall I think I’ve ever had. Thought it might mean that Tyla will never let me ski again, I will recount it here. Powder Bowl is one of the steepest/longest slopes on the mountain and the tiny chairlift that gets you to the top is littered with expert only signs. That being said, I’ve skied it many times before and if I had to pick my single best run ever, it would probably be one I took on that slope. This time it didn’t go quite as planned. Once we got through a band of rocks and into the main slope, I somehow lost a ski, and got turned around. I ended up doing a backflip straight down the mountain. I later learned that as my feet went up in the air I kicked a ski right at Jay’s head. Luckily he saw it coming and was able to duck. I think I only flipped once, but it was so steep that I was now rapidly descending the hill on my back. I got rolled over to my front and thought “I finally get to practice a self-arrest!” I gripped my one remaining ski pole with both hands and jammed it into the snow. That was supposed to stop me, but the snow was so icy and the slope was so steep that it barely even slowed me down. That’s when I really started to get scared because I had no way of knowing if I was going to run into something, and even if I didn’t, the 3-4 foot drop to a cat track at the bottom would surely cause trouble. I gingerly tried to dig my boots into the snow. If you dig in too hard you’ll just start cartwheeling again. Luckily that previously melted snow was very smooth and I was able to bring myself to a stop. From way up above I heard Jay yell to ask if I was ok. Luckily for me, he was able to collect my skis and missing pole. I was carrying my GPS during the slide, so while writing this post, I dug out the dataset and did some math. My slide lasted 130 yards at a constant slope of 38 degrees and reached speeds around 25mph. Thankfully I escaped with nothing but a pounding heart and wet pants which I still claim are from snow that got in during the fall. Jay had a pretty good fall and slide the next day, but he had to climb back up to get his own gear since I’d already headed part way down the slope. Thankfully he was ok too. So aside from those two events, skiing was a lot of fun. We spent most of our time exploring back in Northway and Green Valley.

We met up with Tim and Chelsea for dinner, and then the next day we went shooting at the trap range. Jay bought a Remington 870 too but hasn’t been able to shoot it because of the temps and snow in Syracuse. We had fun breaking some clays and then stuffed our faces with Mod Pizza.

All in all it was as great extended weekend. Thanks to Jay for flying all the way out here to visit and thanks to Juliet and their kids for loaning him to us for the weekend!

Crystal With The Scherschel’s

Five years ago, Tim and Chelsea gave snowboarding a try. That didn’t really stick so this year they decided to give skiing a try. Tyla decided that skiing while pregnant wasn’t a great idea, but she still came along with us and hung out in the lodge. After a few laps on the bunny slope, Tim and Chelsea were ready for the Chinook lift and after lunch they advanced to Forest Queen. They did a great job and made huge improvements throughout the day. It was fun sharing lift rides with them and seeing them enjoy a sport that I love too. Hopefully they’ll head back out to the slopes again soon!