Okay, so I decided to put some of the highlights of those past 12.5 years into one post.
Regarding times when it looked like Little Ricky might not get the turns in, it's probably fairly obvious that August would be difficult if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. What I've found, however, is that while August can be tough, September is often even worse. In August, there are usually remnant snowfields up high in the mountains. By September, however, those are sometimes gone and there's no new snow around.
The first time things got dicey was in October of 1998. I had skied a snowfield under the American Fork Twin Peaks near Snowbird in September (that was pretty heinous) and was EXPECTING it to snow in the Wasatch in October. Well, it not only didn't snow, it got downright warm. The only snow I could find anywhere was a group of snowmaking whales that Park City had made one optimistic night when the temps got low. Ruthie and I walked up there with skis and made turns on about eight separate snow piles on the way down. Here's me wondering where to go next:
The next close call came in September of 1999, which would have been the month that would "complete" my second full year of skiing every month. We were living in Salt Lake City and it was a very warm summer. By the last weekend of September, it was coming down to the wire and no snow was in sight. I talked my wife into hiking to the Timpanogos Snowfield above Emerald Lake on the way up Mt. Timpanogos. This is a pretty big hike even if you're not carrying skis and boots. Worst of all, the weather was truly miserable with rain, wind, and cold all the way up. When we got to the little stone shelter at the lake, we were both like drowned and frozen rats. My wife's hands were so cold (inside her gloves) that she couldn't even unsnap the buckles on her backpack. Here's a photo of the two of us after we had skied the snowfield:
The following year turned out to be just as bad. It hadn't snowed, it was the last weekend of September, and I talked her once AGAIN into going up Timp with me. I thought it might be better if we went from the trailhead on the north side of the mountain this time, but once AGAIN it was raining. We hiked up in a thick cloud for the last hour or so and couldn't even find the trail to the main snowfield in all the fog. Instead, I found a couple of snowfields under the north-facing wall of the summit and skied those. In about 4" of new powder, even. No photos of that disaster.
In mid-March of 1999, I managed to fall skiing (at Deer Valley, no less) and break a shoulder. It wasn't anything too serious and I ended up doing my April skiing under the full moon at Solitude right at the end of April. That was a hoot.
In early July of 2002, I had a huge crash on a road bike here in Jackson and really trashed my left elbow. Double dislocation, two fractures, and an avulsed tendon. Truly painful. Luckily for me (ha!) it happened a couple of days after I had skied for July. Toward the end of August, I still had this obnoxious brace on my arm but I went up the tram, hiked over to Cody Bowl, and made turns for August. Here's a photo and if you look closely you can see the brace:
In early June of 2006, I had surgery on a big toe problem (hallux rigidus). That had been coming on for a long time, so I had it planned in advance. I went skiing in the morning on Teton Pass and had the surgery in the afternoon. Here's what the toe looked like after taking the bandages off:
But by the end of August it was feeling good and I was able to hike over to Cody Bowl to ski. Luckily, the tram was still running then so I could ride up the tram, making the hike a much more manageable one. If the tram had closed that summer instead of the following one, my streak would have ended with the toe surgery.
That's the last time the streak was in serious jeopardy. Since I "discovered" Beartooth Pass, I know that I always have a fallback location that's pretty reliable.
This has been kind of fun, so sometime in the next day or so I'll put up some of the more PLEASANT experiences along the way.