Saturday, April 18, 2009

skiing: Squaw stiffs intermediates

Squaw Valley Ski Corp are tight-fisted jerks who don't run many of their ski lifts, putting them on "money hold". Their excuse seems to be that if the terrain is reachable, why run a second lift. So lifts like Cornice II and Olympic Lady never run except on a packed holiday weekend, because you can reach the terrain from KT22 or Headwall.

But those are expert lifts to the top of steep peaks! Just because an advanced skier can ski over to the terrain doesn't help an intermediate. Here's a poor photo of Newport on a powder day.
the rollers under Newport - intermediate paradise, but unreachable
The terrain under the Newport chair should be intermediate paradise. Wide, lovely, undulating; a nice break from endlessly lapping the Gold Coast six-pack (from which I took this photo). But the only way to get to it is to ski the face of Siberia (the chairlift visible above it that crosses over it, a hard black diamond run.

It's really sad on a powder day with fresh snow such as when I took this photo. This is perfect terrain to get the experience of surfing the white gravity wave, and experts leave it alone as it isn't very steep. But intermediates can't get to it. So they ski around the overtracked Gold Coast intermediate terrain, and (unless they have a local like Alberto Spagetti to take them into the trees and hidden powder stashes), they wonder what the fuss over "virgin pow!" is all about.

Squaw One Express is another lift from which advanced intermediates can access a nice chunk of terrain. It's also great on powder days, a convex dome above the Mountain Run. It too rarely runs. Bastards.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

snow: lots

There was a lot of snow in January and February.
big iciclesThis is a second floor window, those icicles are over 5 meters long!
dog in snowTall snow banks, they got even taller.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

snow fun

At night, cold tired and aching after a day mining powder all over the mountain, shredding my skis in the deep. The little black dog is dancing on her hind legs trying to bite fluffy snowflakes. Which is a guarantee of more of the same tomorrow.

Another peak moment for the databank. I almost whipped out a camera to re-stage it, but as John Mayer wrote in his only great lyric so far Today I finally overcame tryin' to fit the world inside a picture frame. Reaching back to 70s cliché:
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

snow: best piece of gear ever

On a scale of 1 to 10, my baby's a 26
(CHIC, "26").

Arc'teryx Theta SK high-waisted pantsThe XScream had more impact, my whip-thin Scott Limited poles have yet to be equalled, but these Arc'teryx bib pants are hands-down the best winter equipment I've ever owned. I've skied, snowboarded, and hiked in these for 8 years and they're flawless. Zero color fade, everything elastic is still elastic, no damage whatsoever. Even the parts you think would break like this slim velcro closure and exposed snap are immaculate. The famed Arc'teryx surface zippers can't snag on fabric, unlike other zippers.
no defects and barely any wear after 8 years

And the design is perfect. Although there's no insulation, the high-waist design traps heat from your core. (S pities the fools in their low-slung pants, because every time they bend at the waist they pump that core heat into the jacket and out into the cold. Keep it inside.) The stretchy material at the back feels great. The articulation at the knees and the curve of the legs is perfect.

I believe Arc'teryx is still selling these, almost unchanged, as the Theta SK Pant.

And they're made in Vancouver, BC. Go Canada! ("It's not even a real country anyway")

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

snow: NBC blind to world-class achievement

Bode Miller came fifth in the Olympic men's downhill. Fifth best skier in the world on the downhill. That is a fantastic achievement!! Instead that jerk Costas portentously intones about how his medal quest has got off to a bad start. Then when he missed a gate in the slalom, that jerk Costas portentously intoned "Ø for 2 in his medal quest". Bode Miller has every right to his attitude "I am so much better than the bozos in the media, I'll engage, ignore, or ridicule them as I see fit".

Then the American women snowboarders come first, second, fourth and sixth. That dominance of the field is staggering! But NBC only has Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler on air, Kelly Clark and and Elena Hight are nowhere to be seen. NBC's commentator was spot on, Kelly Clark threw down the biggest run ever by a woman for her final run, with insane airs that would be the envy of most of the male competitors. She fell on a huge 900 at the end of her run, where most snowboarders are happy just to get a 540. Yet because she has no metal around her neck, she gets no coverage. All four women should have been fêted.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

snow: shockingly pleasurable

Cold and snowing. Down Red Dog, hard left under the top of Far East Express lift, take a line down into the trees next to the dog leg. I make three and a half proficient turns in deep, nearly unskied powder that gets steeper. The slough from my first turn races down the hill, I turn back into it and through a mini explosion of snow, before I outrun it, balancing muscle and g-force to surf gravity.

Stop. Silence. I'm chilled, but not from the cold. My blood has left my extremities to pool in the pleasure center of my body, somewhere between the heart and head.

Not as purely pleasurable as 1999's "I need a tissue and a cigarette now" six turns down Cornice II (by far the most pleasurable experience of my life, beyond orgasmic), but I'll take it!

Head left onto Christmas Tree run for more powder turns between the trees that were merely awesome fun.

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