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GOOD, BETTER, BEST
A Closing Weekend to Remember at Madesimo
"Made" is going to close down the season on the weekend. I am tempted to go on Thursday, but the week, as it has turned out, has been tiring so far (Monday and Thursday evening, it's ski gym training time, Tuesday to the theater to see a musical, Friday at noon it's swimming, plus work, work, work), besides the weather forecast is not so good for the weekdays, so I decide to forgo and try on Saturday.
Friday evening: bedtime, car is loaded, everything is ready, all it depends how well I will sleep. Gosh, what an awful night! Spent some of it reading, some watching telly, only part of it sleeping. So when the alarm sets off, it's with relief that I decide to go nevertheless. It's 06.45 as I start the engine, clear sky bodes for a nice day, if not warm.
At 0830 I buy a lift ticket and reason with the cashier, "If I'd known that this season I'd have come here so many times, I'd have bought a season pass." The girl of course replies, "Too late now, matey!" Grrr.
At 0900 I'm in for my usual breakfast on the mountain at the lodge and the now traditional text message to Mr. Prickly, "I'm here breakfasting," and wait for his reply: "I'll meet you in xx minutes."
While skiing to the lodge I observe that there's quite a large number of instructors (and almost nobody else) around. I then realize that there are instructor uniforms and badges form all over the region, so it must "stage" week end for them. Since some don't wear uniform at all I am tempted to blend in with one of the groups, the one where the "Istruttore" (the word Instructor in Italy is reserved for the instructors' instructor, whereas instructor translates into "Maestro") is explaining how to use a beacon, a sure sign they're going off-piste somewhere long and steep, or at least "rocky" is tempting me, but I decide that I'd be immediately spotted as a common skier and fingered with ignominy. Besides, Mr. Prickly is almost there, only time to do one run to warm up, then it'll be time to meet up.
So I take the chair and climb from the lodge to the base of the tram, only to ski down whiling away the time waiting for my companion. One turn, mmmmh the snow is really icy this morning. Two turns, yeah right. Three turns, wham! Down with one ski out, nothing is hurt but my pride (I fell right in front of group of instructor, what an ass I am). Ouch the toe-piece seems broken! And a boot buckle torn! Aaarrgh, not after only three turns! Whew, no, I've overreacted, the toe-piece has frozen in its opened position and the buckle has as well. Okay then, after putting all pieces together and feigning some dignity, I "limp" down to the base station.
Mr. Prickly calls me right then and informs that he's already at the tram base station, "hurry hup boy!" (I tell myself), it's rude to let a friend wait.
So, as always, I like to ski with Mr. Prickly, doesn't matter where, given the day we decide to stay in the Canalone/Camosci area for a while.
Skiing down the Camosci we find very nice pouches of soft pow (it must have snowed a bit during the night), almost knee deep--elation, what I feel is elation.
The second or third "lap," while waiting to board, I see on the descending tram a dark clad guy I think I know (from pictures seen in an Italian ski related forum). The guy greets Mr. Prickly and turns away while I still try to decide it's him or not. Oh well, it's time for another run and some more fresh.
Soon we're walking the maze to access the boarding area, the dark clad guy behind us and chatting some with Mr. Prickly. As we pass one another I say something to him about a ski video he posted on that forum. He gives me a funny look, obviously thinking that I am a total stranger. But I'm sure we're acquainted from the other forum, so if he makes for our tram, I decide to formally introduce myself. And so I do: "Hello, Canalone (his nom de plume), I'm Nemo (Latin for Nobody), nice to meet you in the flesh." The three of us chat while waiting to board again the tram, then decide to ski together.
As you see, on the left is Mr. Prickly, whose smile is contagious and not a "picture" smile, he always has that on while skiing! Mr Canalone, my new ski companion is on the right. The picture was taken after reaching the top station, notice the snow which almost covers the whole structure (on Mr. P. right is the tunnel one has usually to walk through when there's not enough snow to immediately exit and "launch" down the Canalone- the run that is, not the man.)
Turning myself the other way around, this is the view I have:
And this (with the safety netting in evidence...)
Did I mention, in passing, that this year it has snowed till late in the season and too much? The consequences are that, not only avalanches have fallen inside the Canalone, but the "normal" ones besides it have reached unusual dimensions:
I took the above picture during my "lunch break", after oh I don't remember how many laps, I had to stop and catch my breath, while Mr. P and Mr. C continued to ski on. Climbing the steps inside the tram station I realized that I "couldn't take more" and sheepishly told Mr. P that I would pass that lap, get some rest and much something. He proceed to lunch while in the tram.
While eating I was reasoning about those avalanches, one must have triggered the other, by "sympathy." Anyhow, having eaten my apple, drunk my water and my orange juice, munched some crackers and some chocolate, it was now time to go and catch the guys.
At he tram I discover they're chatting with a local instructor and a fourth guy. The idea is to ski the "Cavallina" ("Filly", it's a chute on the right of the mountain, not pictured here) in its "eastern" variant.
Having rested, I promptly agree, so we ski around the safety nets (see pic above) and take the "long" traverse to reach the area (said local instructor and fourth member of the group here):
This is a part of the traverse we had to cross; while traversing I kept thinking about the Traversing 101 thread:
The traverse has many exits serving most of the "christened" routes at the mountain: "Cavallina", "Fiammifero" (the "Matchstick", a really tight and steep chute), i "Cavi" (the "Cables" a route passing underneath the cables bringing electric power to the top tram station) and many not christened places.
In the middle of the "Cavallina est" rocks :
Since Mr. P and Mr. C were always too quick to let me fumble with my zip and take out the camera to take pics, I had to ski down the "chute" (in truth wide enough not to realize it's a chute) with my camera at hand and the poles in the other (Canalone took the picture of me doing that, while Mr. P. was laughing like mad at the sight):
Okay, we reach the bottom and what shall we do but to take another tram and go for another lap? So, next is the "Cavi." Traverse again, then down we go:
In the Cavi:
This is it. We're almost there. After what must have been 12 laps on the Cavi (now feeling like 100 laps to me) skiing almost non stop from 08.30 to 15.30, my ski season is done.
It has taken me several days to recover. The first day, on Sunday morning. every single part of my body was aching, from foot-soles to hair, shoulders and legs (for the huge bumps we skied inside the Canalone) lower back. But it was well worth it.
The memory of this brilliant last day of the season will keep me going for a long time.