Sunday, January 29, 2006

skiing: extreme fear x 2 on Silverado

After "teaching" a little girl how to get down Bailey's Beach, I headed through Tram/Bungee Bowl gate to Silverado. Ski through some nice snow to the "Caution" and "Cliff" signs. I confidently duck under the rope line with the arrows pointing you to the merely damn difficult route to the lift, and ski down to a straightforward rock chute I'd scoped from the Squaw Valley cable car.

Oops. The hill curves away, I can't see a thing except some lethal frozen ice waterfalls and no bottom. So I traverse over a ridge hoping to find the line I thought I saw, and that is likewise an ice cliff of unknown height.

OK. There's a gaping pit in my chest where my stomach used to be, and I have to willfully choke it back so it doesn't become nameless panic. I have to sidestep up a hill of deep, breakaway snow. I can't just keep my head down, I get disoriented because it's so steep. Halfway up I get a phone call, "Uhh, I'm kinda busy right now".

I reach the rope line and ski on, finding a nice box chute (McKinney's?) that I can actually see down. A few hop turns and then a manageable extreme experience.

On the lift up, I figure I need my last encounter with Silverado to be a good one, so I ski back in through Beaver Bowl gate to take a straightforward run. I head far right (almost to Bailey's Cirque?) to get some steep freshies. Again it's a convex hill and I can't see what's below and to my right, but I can cut back to the left as long as I don't fall...

I fall on my turn to the right and slide off into the unknown. Immediately I try to recover, but the snow is too deep. Then I slide onto firm snow, and immediately try to push myself away from the hill to gain traction, but now I'm onto pure ice. I'm trying to dig something, anything, in while keeping my skis below me, still not seeing what's below, while my mind is previewing ski movie out-take reels of sick crashes. Then bam! I drop maybe 5 feet into deep soft snow, directly onto my skis, and ski away as if nothing happened. I don't feel a thing, though later my back and entire right side are sore.

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  • Hey! I skied bailey's cirque last weekend. I must admit, I felt that gaping pit in my chest too... I was the only one on the descent, and getting to bailey's cirque was some no fall-cliffs below me stuff. Thankfully my edges didn't give way.

    Will be going back on the 21st of March with a friend from the east coast to introduce him to the West Coast stuff.

    By Blogger Alex, at February 18, 2008 1:44 AM  

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