Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Save those skis for the good days"... Are we gonna get good days?

Those babies are just gettin' broken in.
Seasons were designed for some reason. I’m not sure how important that reason is. Ultimately they serve to divide up the year into four neat little segments and, as a person obsessed with taxonomy, I can dig that-- but like a lot of things we construct for the purpose of classification and identification, it’s pointless. Winter officially started today with the Winter Solstice. Our north pole is now tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun and this day represents the least amount of daylight during the calendar. If you are a skier, the solstice really has no impact on what we call winter. I suppose if I had to pick a quarter of the year to call winter, I would start it exactly 45 days before the winter solstice on Nov. 7th or so, and end some time in early February. That boundary of winter seems to make more sense since it corresponds to what I feel is the true Winter ski season, but there is no scientifically quaint correlation to the celestial mechanics of our orbit, so I will settle for today being the start of winter. Also, by settling on today as the start of winter, it serves me with a benchmark I can use for the proclamation of a personal goal; to share my thoughts, not only as a skier, but as a resident of the planet, on this blog on a much more frequent basis. You’ve probably gathered from my prior paragraph that I value scientific explanations for things, but like farmers and baseball players, skiers have a healthy dose of superstition. I’m going to posit a new superstition relating to snow fall called “The Rock Ski” precipitant. Essentially, I’m theorizing that true commitment to skiing shitty, old rock skis in lousy early season conditions will result in a hastening of big storms. By proving to commit to protecting your prized boards, the snow gods will reward you.

Don't let the grass and exposed rocks fool you, this was a powder day.
If by "powder" you mean unconsolidated sugar.
Go back a few weeks, before the big storm on the 14th. I was out touring the Catherine’s Pass area with my friend Jared on our faceted and rotten early season snowpack. Not wanting to risk the tender bases of my “less-than-a-season” old Voile V6s, I opted to ski my now 10 year old Black Diamond Verdicts which were still rigged up for my ill-fitting Garmont boots. Things were fine until we skied our first lap and I felt no control over my skis. Then, on my 2nd lap, after transitioning from ski to walk mode, my feet started killing me. In my mind I thought I had to get these bindings adjusted to my better fitting boots I was fortunate enough to buy last year. Thinking that the thin snowpack could last for a few more weeks, I felt like parting with the essential parts of my AT rig for a while would be worth it. Then, while my rock skis and precious new AT boots were in the shop being wed, we got nailed with the biggest storm in a few seasons. Jared suggested a dawn patrol, which sounded great, until I remembered my Black Diamond skis and Dynafit boots were on their honeymoon in the back of a ski shop.

This unholy matrimony of Dynafit and Fritschi has
been condemned by the Westboro Baptist Church.
Let’s jump ahead a week to this last Saturday. I was inbounds this time, skiing my resort skis at Alta. They were already in bad shape thanks to an especially abusive day the week before. Once again, before our big storm, I took two inch long core shots right along the edge. When I checked them out at the end of the day, it was a sick joke. I expected the worst and when I turned over the first ski I thought, “Oh, not so bad.” Then I turned over the second ski. Uggh! I was reminded once again how skis, unfortunately, are a disposable item. Unlike bikes which, with maintenance, can withstand the nature of their purpose, skis take the brunt and eventually wear out, like tires. I should have brought them in immediately for some PTex, but I knew the craptastic early season condtions would persist and they weren’t done taking a beating. I was right, even after our big storm, the High T at Alta extracted it’s toll. It’s somewhat validating when you hold off a tune-up and take a few nicks in the plank, kind of like using the toilet before you clean it. After my day on Saturday however, I decided it was time for a tune. What should happen the day after I get my skis in for some long overdue TLC? Another storm. I pick them up tomorrow. I’ll have my meager quiver back at my disposal. My only hope is that this cycle we are in keeps up through the week so that with the upcoming 3 day weekend, I can spend time on the mountain.

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