The avalanche reports from the UAC are coming more frequently. Which can only mean one thing: Ski season is nearly here. And while the coverage is not quite there yet, it will be soon. Another solid storm or two and the backcountry is going to be busier than the resorts. In the meantime I am trying to figure out a way to incorporate my skiing into my winter training plan. Yes, I have a plan. There is added motivation this year to stick to that plan, a fixed gaze on spring, and summer, and on racing.
But the backcountry will be a welcome change of scenery. The snowy mountains are surreal, ethereal, and mysterious. One can climb into cirques and up headwalls on skis that would be nearly impassable and impossible during the summer. The deep powder is adequate resistance when climbing, causing one to huff and puff extensively in order to gain the ridge line or the summit. When it is time to ski down the hill, one’s legs and lungs are already burning from 2 hours in the skin track. Thankfully Rick, Rob, and Mark seem always eager to break trail. Or, if you happen to find yourself climbing the hill with Dustin, just sit back and watch him hop up the steepest ascent and through the deepest snow. It is awe-inspiring. And frankly, to interrupt such a work of art would be…insensitive.
And speaking of avalanche alerts, I’ll be taking a Level 1 Avy certification class in December. It ought to be an intense learning experience, and hopefully I will come out the other end with a lot more knowledge and know-how about how avalanches work, and the conditions they are caused in.
But all this being said, I still l find myself in bike mode right now. I know that will all change as soon as I make those first turns, but I have yet to do that. And so I ride, like yesterday, over the thin snow cover and through the mild mud that is covering the low elevation trails. Which, despite the recent storm, were still in rather surprisingly good shape – for now.