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How (not) to make your very own BC ski partner

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Okay folks. After three years of passing the Powder mag Shooting Gallery section to my wife with comments like, "doesn't that look like fun?", she's finally expressed interest in getting into the backcountry. So I've planned a 4 day hut tour with two 13er summits.... Just kidding. I mean, that's what I wanted to do but common sense prevailed. 


I'm starting this thread to document the successes and fails of getting her into BC skiing. We've made a date next week for our first venture. We'll see how it goes. Now, for the back story.


The Good

My wife. Andi is a professional photographer. She's the type that would gladly sacrifice shoes to make room for more lenses in her bag when we travel. She is a decent downhill skier, and an intermediate telemarker. She loves nordic and skate skiing so the UP will actually be a blast for her. To that end, she completely digs backcountry travel on nordic skis - like to the point that she has a pair of Asnes with three pin boots. So for her, this is a chance to get up off the valley floor and take some great photos. *I must remember that*


The Bad

She'll be traveling on telemark gear. The boots are pretty light. I'm not sure the bindings have a climbing bar. Will have to check. And the ski is more of a *ahem* carver.


The Ugly

She's never really skied powder. I mean, not much.


The Plan

So, since I preach safety, I've been running her through principles of beacons, searches and extractions. In the next day or two we're going to work on conducting searches, probing and lots and lots of digging. Because of her nordic skills I am not too worried about skinning. If anything, the skins will just piss her off because of lack of glide. But she'll be fine there.


We're staying uber mellow on our first venture. If the snow pack looks good we'll head up Red Lady and ski the glades. Very low angle stuff - no avy danger due to the terrain. Looking at the pack and the storm forecast we're probably in for about 3 - 6 inches of powder over a supportive mid pack (if you'll call it that). If there is a breakable crust then we'll divert to a different aspect. Can't think of a worse way to introduce someone to powder than breakable crust. The UP is mellow (except for the start and we'll just book pack that to make it easy), winds through some beautiful aspen and pine stands. Another thing I like about this route is that at almost any time in the UP that you want to bail you can just traverse skiers right and ski down the glades. So, we won't have the "must get to the top" syndrome going.


So that's the plan. Not optimal and violates rule #1: there is no reason your wife should ever be on equipment of lesser quality than yours. We may opt for renting some BC tele skis for her if I can talk her into it. The climbing bar has me worried.


The End Game

Here's what I am trying to do: 1) grow my own live in BC partner and 2) get her comfortable in the BC so that when my girls are old enough we can all do it as a family (they're gamers now - my 7 year old asked if she could have a pair of Dynafits - I got choked up).


She'll never be into big descents. For her it will be the experience of the tour that matters. However, I think she'll like skiing low angle powder. If she gets into it I'll give her my Shaman which would make a great BC ski for her. She's also a ridonkulous photographer so I have a vested interest in those pics!


So I am trying to be realistic here. We'll see. So, what do you think my chances are:


Great - Dude, she'll be asking for heli drops for Xmas

Good - Sounds like you won't screw this up too bad Que

Poor - This is gonna cost you dude

Epic Fail - see http://www.hulu.com/watch/10310/saturday-night-live-bad-idea-jeans

Edited by Que - 12/8/10 at 10:24am
post #2 of 12

Good general approach.  The only "red" elements aren't really related to your planning -- e.g., doing this with a s.o. is always both good and bad, and if I understand correctly that she's in Crested Butte but hasn't skied much powder, she may really just not be that into it.  That also may have bearing on whether she'd every want to move up to steeper terrain/dealing with stability issues, etc.  So planning-wise I probably should give you a great rather than good assuming you go ahead and rent some skis.

post #3 of 12

Need more options.  Since I'm not a good person to be commenting on successful technique in this area, I'd like to see "Waiting to see how it turns out" and maybe "Luck with your project" options.  

post #4 of 12

Make sure it's not too cold and windy. I damned near put my wife off of b.c. by bringing her out during a high wind -20c day.

post #5 of 12

Any chance to play with powder inbounds so she's not spending her entire trip digging herself out of craters?  Nobody likes having to make people wait for them, especially after they get cold, wet and frustrated.


FWIW, I managed to pull off "epic fail" when I tried to get my then-boyfriend/now husband into BC skiing.  I made the silly assumption that since he regularly is much faster than me on snowshoes when heading for ice climbs, he would be similarly able to at least keep up skinning. Uh-uh.  I'm slow as molasses but I still chicked him hard, and he doesn't want to play any more.  :(  He'll ski inbounds to placate me and the kids, but that's about as far as it goes.

post #6 of 12

Originally Posted by Que View Post

[...] She is a decent downhill skier, and an intermediate telemarker. [...] She'll be traveling on telemark gear. [...] I'm not sure the bindings have a climbing bar. Will have to check. And the ski is more of a *ahem* carver.  [...] She's never really skied powder. I mean, not much.  [...] So that's the plan. [...] Epic Fail

post #7 of 12

You are really lucky to have a wife who is even willing to ski with you. much less BC ski.  If she is willing to BC with you, then she isn't just one in a million, she is one in a TRILLION.  Almost every BC ski adventure I go on is either a weenie-roast all-male excursion or a solo trip - or maybe a trip with my faithful dog.


I guess you have already gone on your trip already, but I recommend to all in this situation to make the trip much shorter and much less adventuring than you would even consider easy.  If your BC means going downhill through trees and brush, that is pretty scary for most and girls especially don't like being scared.  Did I understand that you plan to tour in the UP as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?  Kinda hilly, second or third growth forests where vegetation is dense and difficult to crawl through.


Keep it simple, keep it easy, keep it short.  Build her into it.  Stay at a lodge and do day trips rather than winter camping.  Bring hot chocolate and Reeses Peanut Butter cups.  Treat her to dinner at a restaurant at night.  Look at all her photos from the day and tell her she is brilliant - you know, treat her like it is a first date, because for her, it kinda is.

post #8 of 12
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz View Post

Ha ha!  I concur.  Sounds like a "three-hour-tour" to me.  She is either going to be bitching and complaining, or crying, or giving him the silent treatment.  He will definitely be buying her diamonds after sending her wobbly-legged down a powder laced tree-populated  back-country hill, THEN back up again.  Whooo Man!

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

LOL. I totally hear you. Okay, so here's the scoop. I had the trip set, day picked out, buy-in secured. Then a blizzard hit with high winds and I decided to bag the tour rather than risk the wrath - she's not like that but it turned out to be a good call. The weeks passed and no opportunity turned up for a reschedule. She got into skate and classic like she does every year and the temps went south. So, I figured it was just a nice notion....


Until this weekend. We had a nice dump here on Thurs - Sunday. Saturday she came up to the hill, donned her tele skis and went out with us. Actually, strike that, she ditched us and went to ski low angle pow by herself. I won't say she had a great time but she skied 10 - 4. At the bar, she asked about a BC tour and how she would like to do that now that the days are warming up. Said she was game for it.


So cool... It was the skier equivalent of "hey, let's invite those two cute British Airways stewardesses over, drink a bunch of margaritas and  see what happens."  Epic score. We're totally going to take it mellow and do it with the right skis.





Edited by Que - 3/2/11 at 7:41pm
post #10 of 12

Rock on!


And for all of you who dis on chica BC skiers, I'd like to introduce you to a couple of friends of mine... I'm nothing to write home about but these girls stomp it, hard.  While smiling and looking charming.







Edited by mountaingirl1961 - 3/1/11 at 1:25pm
post #11 of 12

Wow, So cool to see BC chics in action!  Thanks for the pics.


You meows are one in  billion.


Keep your heels free!

post #12 of 12

You're on the right track, Que, but I'll make an alternate suggestion:


What about waiting until corn snow season?  It's March already and you're in a part of the world where some great cornfields have got to be setting up pretty soon.  Corn snow is an outstanding way to introduce someone to bc skiing because it's so smooth and forgiving.  Plus, even the EASIEST terrain can be great fun when the snow is firm underneath but just starting to warm up.  Plus, plus, good corn snow - by definition - means a sunny spring day with minimal weather issues.  Plus, plus, PLUS, skinning up mellow terrain on smooth pre-corn is about the easiest skinning there is. 


I got a kick out of your post because it reminded me of an "epic fail" I managed to barely avert (thanks to my wife, not me) on my wife's second trip on skins.  This was about 15 years ago and we were living in SLC.  I wanted to take her powder skiing to Patsy Marley peak up at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, across from Alta.  I somehow got it in my head that we could just skin east up the gully rather than switchbacking west from the main trailhead and then back east above the main gully.  Within 15 minutes, we were in a miserable little stand of brush, kickturning every thirty feet on the really steep side of the gully, ducking branches and tripping over logs.  I turned around at that point and asked her how she was doing.  Her muttered reply was "I'd rather have a root canal".   Luckily, we got out of that crappy stuff soon after and went on to have a great tour.  Now, she loves to go and we've had many, many fun times together in the backcountry. 


Good luck with the outing and make sure you post some of her photos.

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