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It Scared Me!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
It's been a long time since I had an emotional experience like I had this weekend related to the slope I was skiing.

First a bit about me. I've been skiing regularly for 44 years. I don't have problems with any named runs in any of the PNW ski areas that I frequent, including Mt. Baker, Stevens Pass, and Whistler/Blackcomb. I can ski them in most any conditions, and I'm usually in good control. My favorite terrain is ungroomed. I like powder (of course), and crud of almost any texture. I usually bore quickly on repeated groomed runs. I like bumps.

Now, what happened. My sweetie and I took off for the weekend to Silver Star in South Central B.C. I've been there twice before and have had a blast on their double diamond runs which are quite steep, long, and varied. They include bumps and are a fun challenge. This trip was no exception. I was enjoying myself on the quality snow and feeling great. Then we took a trip down a single diamond run on the same hill. The only difference I could tell between the double and single diamond was that the single had a more consistent pitch (still pretty steep) and it had been groomed with one of those winch groomers.

It scared the $#!t out of me! I can't explain it. I had no trouble skiing it. The snow was good, I could carve turns easily. It was a piece of cake, but I had a near panic reaction to seeing this quite steep, 1000 ft. vertical pitch without features like bumps. I freaked inside. I swallowed it and skied down without incident and in good form by focusing on just the slope immediately around me, but it rattled me for the rest of the day.

What a weird experience.

There is nothing like that slope in my area. Anything that steep remains ungroomed, so it was a novelty for me. Even thinking about it now makes my knees shake! Has anyone else out there had such an experience?
post #2 of 21
From the words you used, it sounds like you had a bout of vertigo or something similar. The fact that the slope didn't have any moguls probably made gaining a bearing or reference point difficult. Also, I notice that you aren't saying anything along the lines of ramifications of falling on a steep smooth slope (e.g. the human torpedo). So, it doesn't sound like this was a "thinking process" but really something more on the level of vertigo. Have you ever had issues with vertigo? As someone who gets it from time to time - I can tell you that is a deeper level gut reaction that defies logic.
post #3 of 21
I once heard that in your typical ski day you should be completely bored 10% of the time.
You should be in your happy comfort zone for 80% of the day.
And completely scared out of your wits, at some point, for the last 10%.

This is how you get better. I still use that formula.
Sounds like a good day!
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Que View Post
...vertigo? As someone who gets it from time to time - I can tell you that is a deeper level gut reaction that defies logic.
So true. It feels like your body forgets how to interpret gravity, so you have no real bearings. That's why I stay out of bowls in really flat light.

If it's steep groomed you mean, Vail grooms (somehow) Pepi's Face every so often. I think they use a Zamboni, 'cuz it's a terrifying diagonal slide across the face to the soft stuff by the trees, then a quick turn at the trees and another slide to the bottom. Thank goodness it's short. And to think they used to finish the downhill on that slope.

mtn
post #5 of 21
I had a similar experience to yours last year. Don't feel bad about it. I was out at Moonlight last winter for my week's "vacation", and had a BAD bout of a "loss of confidence". We were going to go up into the Headwaters, which as far as steep terrain goes, is pretty gnar but very do-able. I stood at the bottom of it while we were looking at which lines to do. I just got scared - I lost ALL confidence in my skiing. I just couldn't do it. I skied tentatively and overly-cautious the whole trip. It was terrible.

At the end of it all, I attributed it to stress - my job had taken some very major changes, and I was completely rattled about work the whole time I was on the trip. I was physically sick for the last half of the trip.

Don't read too much into it. I went out this winter again. I was asking when we were going to go into the HW's this time around, and I was coming off a pretty bad back injury at the time. It's funn how life can do things like that to you sometimes. You'll get by it. Next time will be better. Don't let it rattle you.
post #6 of 21
Posaune - You reminded me of one trip where we skied some chutes at Alta. (I think it was near Yellow Trail or East Greeley.) It was after 87" in five days (!) and we were getting first tracks in that chute. The rock walls were especially formidable to one of our group ... but he didn't decide that until *after* he'd already dropped in. He skied it just fine, but he reported he was scared until it opened up into the bowl 2/3 of the way down.

Sometimes those "gotchas" will surprise you, huh?

- KK
post #7 of 21
I've seen a lot more slides for life on steep winch groomed terrain than on steep terrain that isn't groomed.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
I've seen a lot more slides for life on steep winch groomed terrain than on steep terrain that isn't groomed.
Yeah, that's what always worries me a little on terrain like that.

I've had the same feeling before on the winch-groomed part of Heather Canyon at Mt. Hood Meadows (Memorial Bowl, maybe?). It's really not all that steep if you stop and look at it, but something about that huge wide open groomed section in front of you can give you the willies.
post #9 of 21
It is definately the grooming. With no moguls to potentially "catch" you it feels like you are going to fall off the earth.
post #10 of 21
I call it a rush.

Happened to me at Alta when we got on East Greeley.

Never seen anything quite like it. What a rush!!!
post #11 of 21
Nothing like +50 mph?(GPS) down a smooth icy narrow run with Old growth trees on both sides to make you question your ability. Yeah, I'm good to go but what if?: Take it in stride Posaune.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, this run wasn't icy at all. The snow was great. It was the optical sense of the run just falling away, featureless, into the distance. I suppose it was a subconcious fear of falling and sliding that was at the core, but it never bubbled to the surface. As I say, I skied it fine and anyone looking at me wouldn't have had a clue that I was shaking in my boots. I'd like to get back to ski some of that stuff again; "get back on the horse" so to speak. But there isn't anything like that locally so I imagine it'll be awhile.
post #13 of 21
You should come to Killington some time....you'd love it!!!
post #14 of 21
Are you talking to me.
post #15 of 21
Ok, this (****) happens!
BTW, do you feel something like that when skiing down Diamond or Ruby bowls @ Whistler?
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by apeyros View Post
Ok, this (****) happens!
BTW, do you feel something like that when skiing down Diamond or Ruby bowls @ Whistler?
You mean at Blackcomb? No, but they're not groomed. They aren't as featureless either. I do feel excitement and some apprehension before getting started, but it goes away as soon as the turns start.

I think the big problem is that the groomer was novel for me and I wasn't mentally ready for it.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
You mean at Blackcomb? No, but they're not groomed. They aren't as featureless either. I do feel excitement and some apprehension before getting started, but it goes away as soon as the turns start.

I think the big problem is that the groomer was novel for me and I wasn't mentally ready for it.
By Whistler i usually mean both W and B.

Probably you are right and any thing you are not accustomed to is a true challenge.:
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
...but I had a near panic reaction to seeing this quite steep, 1000 ft. vertical pitch without features like bumps.
Could it just be as simple as that. Seeing a steep run?

That would do it for me. I can ski about anything, as long as I don't spend time looking at it before I drop in. On the other hand, if I stand at the top and look down, it doesn't take much to create some anxiety for myself.
post #19 of 21
I get that way if I'm on a really steep pitch (40 degree) where I can't see over the lip of what's ahead of me. For me it's the fear of skiing over the lip & finding a cliff or rock band on the other side. If I can see what's ahead of me or if I know the terrain, I'm just fine. I guess it because I've cliffed out a few times in unknown steep terrain.
post #20 of 21
Was the trail kind of narrow at the top (ie chute-like) ? I notice that tends to add to the freak factor.

It's usually as simple as taking the first turn or two, once you get the edges to bite then reflex takes over.
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by viking kaj View Post
Was the trail kind of narrow at the top (ie chute-like) ? I notice that tends to add to the freak factor.

It's usually as simple as taking the first turn or two, once you get the edges to bite then reflex takes over.
No. This was a wide run cut into the trees. The pitch was even and continuous. I'm not good at estimating degrees of slope, but it was steep. Amazing that they could groom it! The thing that was different for me was that I didn't loose my sense of unease until I got to the bottom. Usually it goes away as soon as I start making turns. Of course, it could have been that this groomer was so easy to ski it didn't take close attention to what I was doing to handle it, giving my mind time to freak out.
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