Saturday, April 3rd. There are a few inches of fresh, and I’m on the third chair up from Lionhead base. Take a few blissful runs solo then meet up with DonDenver, (minus Betsy, who has woken with an unpleasant malady,) and introduce myself to Rachelv, my Bear companions for the day.
Rachelv is not that familiar with Vail, but Don & I are. We spend the day taking turns picking runs and give our new friend quite the cook’s tour of the immense resort. Overcast sky brightens for a brief while, and we take the opportunity to introduce Rachelv to one of my favorite spots, Seldom.
Rachelv has a sticker on her helmet that reads “Ski Like A Girl.” This energetic young lady does that indeed. She skis like a strong, aggressive, jubilant girl, who most definitely eats her Wheaties.
Spend the rest of the day in state of low-level euphoria. Love the snow in Blue Sky. Round about 3:00 I'm feeling the effects of a pair of sleepless nights and altitude. I’m running seriously low on gas, and beg off on further athletic glory, and want to make a sedate journey to the base area, preferably on a run named something like “Fuzzy Baby Panda”, “Sleepy Puppy,” or “Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies.” I’m whipped. Don and Rachelv beat themselves up on one more “serious” lap, and then meet me at the bottom.
Don heads off to rendezvous with his beloved Betsy, and I introduce Rachelv to Vail Snopro using locally brewed malt beverages as social lubrication.
Easter Sunday, April 4th. I hook up with my new buddy Rachelv, and old friend CoSkiGirl at the base. We were blessed with a few inches of fresh overnight, and then get a few hours of clear skies.
In honor of the day, CSG sports her pig-tailed coif in the beguiling “happy bunny ears” style. This marks at least the second time that CoSkiGirl and I have skied together on a major Christian holiday. Perhaps we’re both Hindu, and our parents neglected to tell us.
I play tour guide for the day, and try and show Rachelv a bit more of the massive area. We do however make a pair of laps on Resolution, a run in Blue Sky Basin that we enjoyed on Saturday, and all agree had some of the most wonderful snow that we’d found.
Too busy skiing to play with the camera, but I did cajole the ripper chicks to set up one photo op on a very mildly pitched fluffy stretch in Blue Sky. If you’ve never skied with Rachelv and CoSkiGirl, and get the chance to, do it ASAP. Major fun company and solid all around skiers.
Introduce my Bear buddies to non-Bear friend Paul, a visiting Brit who I met earlier in the season. We hop into Sundown bowl and slug our way through the heavy snow on Forever, and then play around on the front side until it’s time for us all to make our own particular ways home.
Monday, April 5th. No new snow, so I take the opportunity to play with my new skinny toys/tools, a pair of Volkl Supersport 4 Stars, (from around 2003 or 2004, in good shape and little used.) As I’m solo, I don’t bother to stop and make photos. Was delighted with the 4 Stars performance, and was anxious to try a pair of carving skis. When my game was on, the groomed runs were like iron slabs, and the skis were like magnets. The skis were tons of fun in a variety of turn shapes, and were pretty nimble in the moguls. Alas, I am not.
Tuesday, April 6th. The day starts with incredible promise, then gets better and better. Vail reported 11” of fresh overnight, and I head off to meet Segrbrown for the first time at Lionshead base before the lifts open. VailSnoPro joins us and it’s off to the races. As anyone who’s spent much time on EpicSki knows, VSP is a major force to be reckoned with. Supremely skilled, experienced, and good-natured, he’s also one of the finest ski instructors on the planet. I’m extremely stoked that such a great skier would want to spend his day off skiing with me. Of course, once I see Segbrown, and then get to ski with her, I can’t help but think that her presence is a major factor in VSP’s choice of companions for the day. (Just joking about this a little bit. VSP is one of the real friends that I’ve made thanks to EpicSki, but I’m still flattered that he wants to ski with me. He too had never met segbrown before, and we were both extremely impressed with her skiing. It just so happens that she’s also wonderful company, and looks way cool is her ski togs.)
We enjoyed an absolutely spectacular powder day, and it’s only because I’d promised Finndog that I would try and make a few photographs that we stopped at all while I yutzed around with the point and shoot camera that I “borrowed” from my wife. The day started out snowy and overcast, so we waited for the sun to come out before we did a few quick photo set-ups.
This was easily the deepest day that I’ve had in my skiing career, and though I probably fell more times on Tuesday than I have in all my previous days this season combined, I learned quite a bit about skiing the deep, and this newly gained knowledge would pay off mightily on Wednesday. (Perhaps most important, I learned that when you fall in these conditions, you go “poof”, look like a sugar cookie, and are, (thus far,) unhurt.
Tuesday may well have been the best day I’ve ever spent on the hill, what with the epic powder and two stellar companions. I was pretty certain that the day would stand alone as the apex of my season until;
Wednesday, April 7th came along.
Upon waking, a check of the Vail website reported 19” of fresh. JACKPOT!
Head on off to Lionshead for my first time rendezvous with Alta6, who I’ve heard is an extremely nice guy, and quite a player on the hill. The rumors were right. We hit it off pretty much after the first 4 seconds of our relationship.
First run was on a “groomer” that had between 6” to well over a foot of fresh on top of a baby-bottom smooth base. We cut over to a short, moderately pitched training area, and played figure 8’s.
Pretty fair results seemed prophetic, as our initial harmony and rhythm promised good things to come. (In actuality, Alta6 is a strong guy, very experienced skier, and a considerate soul. Compared to many of the Bears, I’m relatively inexperienced, and runs that many of you make as a matter of routine, are to me feats of lunatic daring. It makes me feel wonderful about my own growing skills that I can actually keep up with these fine folks, (for the most part,) and that my presence does not seem to seriously hinder their own run selection, or overall pace on the mountain.)
Alta and I share the blower for a few laps on the frontside until it’s time for us to meet up with another major big-dog Bear, Alta6’s old companion, and my new one; Uncle Louie. We introduce ourselves and talk pleasantly for about 45 seconds, then drop in to Sunup Bowl.
We played around in Teacup for a run, then make our way over to Blue Sky, where we lap Earl’s bowl 3 or 4 times, then meet Noodler and his bro Faisasy at the base. Little do I know that the quick “hello” that I share with Noodler at the base will be the entirety of our interaction. In fact, the ONLY disappointing aspects of the entire day were my failure to spend more time with Noodler and actually meet Faisasy. Alas, well-waxed skis, buck fever, poor sense of direction, and rotten communication preclude our sharing turns. I zip past them, though they do Shanghai Alta6 for a while, and lead Uncle Louie and our newly made buddy John over to the Pete’s bowl side, which I knew would be just choked full of wind-loaded pow. Bingo. We smile a lot.
2:00 PM seems to be the witching hour, and the sun has turned what had been a few feet of blower into grabby piles of heavy cream cheese. We opt out of the line we hoped to take in Shagri-La trees, and spend the rest of the day on the front side.
Got a phone call from Fireball. Told him that I missed him mightily, and then teased him mercilessly.
Thursday April 8th. A blue-sky day with no new snow yields a different sort of day for me and the Bear gang. VSP has the day off again, and has seen fit to join me, Alta6 and Uncle Louie for a day of mischief.
Our first run was our only mistake of the day. Dropping into Game Creek Bowl in coral reef like, icy mank is pretty close to being unpleasant, and a rather jarring experience. I still feel that line in my knees.
VSP and Unk provided me with several very nice pointers in the hope of making my bump skiing more smooth and less spastic. I was the only one of our gang with a camera, and as such, there is no photographic evidence, so you’ll just have to trust me when I write that their advice has indeed paid dividends.
Uncle Louie was having a few aches and feeling the altitude a bit, so he took a little time out. VSP then provided Alta6 and me with some more of his insightful coaching, and we spent almost a full hour on a single groomed run, working on nuanced and subtle drills. Good stuff. We continued to enjoy a rather low-impact day, sharing turns, smiles, and good company until closing time.
There is a often-parroted cliché that states “there are no friends on a powder day.” I’ve said this myself, but really believe that it’s often a lot of bunk. I’m sure that I would have had a great time in Vail by myself, but am not nearly foolish enough to believe that I would have had nearly as much fun, grown as much as a skier, and enjoyed life to the same degree as I did in the company of the above noted Bears, friends old and new.
That was the end of my season, and I can’t imagine a better finish. Now it’s on with my “normal” life, and for a long while, skiing will be what I do in my dreams.
Edited by Bazzer - 4/11/10 at 8:11am