Thursday, March 27, 2008

Little Kids Rock the Mountain (Days 37-41)

A lot of ski days and I'm not going to go too in-depth on most of them. We (Action Mom and me) had some relatives out and got to play tour guide, and they turned out to have a ton of friends in the area for the week as well. The days were two at Sugarbowl, one at Alpine, one at Northstar, and then one more at Sugarbowl for me.

The two Sugarbowl days were lots of fun, of course. Lots of aggressive skiing on terrain that I have more-or-less memorized. But the Alpine day ended up being one the most interesting on this trip. When we got to the mountain we met up with both sets of the relatives' friends and various groups broke off. I ended up being de facto leader for the advanced(ish) alpine group, which was fine with me. I tend to start lapping something I like and not exploring the mountain when I'm skiing on my own, and this got me wandering all around the bowls off of Alpine's Summit Six chair. With that group I collected groomed and ungroomed runs through Alpine and Wolverine bowls, some alternate, off-piste lines on some of the runouts, Waterfall, Three Sisters, and Sherwood Bowl via the High Traverse.

The High Traverse was particularly amusing. It's a short, uphill traverse with a brief section at the end that requires sidestepping or walking. In short, no big deal, especially after Silverton. It accesses a huge, relatively under-utilized south-facing bowl on the other side of Alpine's main ridgeline. Certain members of my party who shall remain nameless thought that I'd led them on a death march by the time we reached the saddle accessing the other side. Whoops.

After that we sessioned the Sherwood side briefly before switching back to the front side of the mountain. I collected Our Father and then everyone in my group except for the little kid of one family decided they were too tired to continue. I took him through a Keyhole shot and a couple of Peril Ridge lines before it got to be near the time for the lifts to close.

The thing that rocked about this little kid was that he didn't do fear. He wasn't a beautiful skier, but he had a solid parallel turn, and that's really all you need. We'd go to the top of something and agree that it looked hard. Then when it was his turn to drop in, he'd just start making turns, and then linking turns, and then he'd be at the bottom. No whining, no moaning, no falls but a nice, assertive skiing style. If he keeps skiing that way as he gets older, he'll be one of the ones that doesn't have to say anything about what they do because there's nothing on the mountain not on the list.

Northstar was as always. It reminded me why I like skiing better than snowboarding and also that if I'd stayed with snowboards I'd want something a lot stiffer, possibly with some metal in it. One of these days I'll find myself there on my GS skis and I'll have to hide on the backside or lookout ridge all day for the long sightlines, low crowding, and ability to go very, very fast.

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