Tag Archives: powder skiing

The Skiing Gender Gap: Another Perspective

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After such a great response from last week’s post offering a little advice to would-be women ski bums, I’m offering here another side of the coin: the politics of relationships on the slopes.

Fellow ski journalists John Naye and Claudia Carbone put together a “He said/She said” on the sport of skiing and I’m reprinting it here with permission. I’d be thrilled to hear your reactions to this one. Here it goes: (kk)

Ski slopes can be fertile hunting grounds for the sexes, but that Mars/Venus thing can also turn those slopes into a battlefield. Ski hills are the perfect place to test compatibility, but they can also test our patience. Can you survive taking a run together, riding the chair together, and agreeing on lunch together?

Not too long ago I was discussing this subject with a female friend of mine, who happens to currently be the President of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association, a position I also held a few years ago. Claudia lives in the Colorado ski resort town of Breckenridge, and because she works as a skiing ambassador for the resort, she sees her share of skiers and riders trying to work out their gender based differences. For fun, I asked her to write some comments about skiing with men to which I could write a counter point about skiing with women. Here’s a part of that.

She says:

Just try to keep up with Christina, photo by Andrew Longstreth

I love to ski with a man. I’ll take a date on the slopes over après-ski every time. But if you want to ski with this downhill diva, then pay attention. For starters, where does it say that guys have to be the leaders? You think you own the mountain. You get off the lift and zoom, you disappear. Okay, I may not always know where I am, but getting lost together could be romantic, could it not?

Guys love to talk the talk, especially in the bar the night before. Usually the ones who brag the most ski with the grace of Chewbacca. Of course, everything has got to be an unannounced contest: who can ski the fastest, the longest, the most runs, the steepest terrain. It seems that no matter how exhausted or frightened you might be, you’ll never ever admit it..

A bite of chocolate and a squirt of Gatorade isn’t lunch. I want a full sit-down meal. Besides marking the end of morning and the beginning of afternoon, lunch is an opportunity for a make-up check. You men do understand that, don’t you?

Mountain scenery takes my breath away. If you want to do the same, stop occasionally and savor the view. And speaking of scenery, don’t dress like a dork. Zip up your jacket, cut off that collection of old lift tickets, and don’t even think about wearing jeans as ski pants.

Another thing: I get so tired of hearing “Come on, you can handle this.” I’ll make that decision myself, thank you. If you lead me astray on the mountain, I’ll cut you off after dinner!

Now, let’s go rip it up.

He says:

Ah, get over it Claudia. If men didn’t lead the snow parade, there wouldn’t be enough ski patrollers in all of recorded history to find all the tender-gender types lost out there on the mountain. When’s the last time you actually saw a woman read and understand a trail map?

This guy can ski, photo by Kim Kircher

I love to ski with women too…but it’s not unconditional love. Since when did whining become an Olympic sport? It’s too cold, too hot, too steep, too foggy, too early, too late, just about too anything.

And how can there actually be “too much powder?” Why do women always want to have a leisurely breakfast on a powder day? Why am I the jerk if I want first tracks? You could happily meet me later, couldn’t you? I know you’d find that trail map handy then!

One of the biggest things that bugs me about skiing with chicks is when I ask them 500 times if they want to try something a bit more “aggressive” and they keep saying yes. Then I take them to a… BLUE run and…. HOLYMOTHEROFGOD… it all hits the fan, and I instantly go from Mr. Charm to Mr. Mean.

What happened to that women’s lib thing, you know, all that equal treatment under the law. Does the simple fact that I invited you to go skiing mean I get to pay for everything…. your lift tickets, ski rental, meals, spa bills, everything? Then, if I do, the first thing I hear is “that was an exhausting first run – I’m going to the lodge. See you at four.” Not much value for that $60 lift ticket, is it?

I don’t think you women realize your real ability. You may be the most technically sound skiers in the world – but will you push your speed a little….no way. I mean, where is the sense of adventure? Then you decide to stop and chat half-way down a run, then pout about being left behind. Save the chatter for the chairlifts, that’s what they’re for.

And one more thing. Don’t ask me – don’t ever ask me – if you look fat in stretch pants!

Thanks John and Claudia for offering your perspectives. I, too, often witness this push and pull on the slopes. Now dear readers, it’s your turn. How far has the sport tested your relationships? Hit the comment button and tell us your thoughts.

Last Day for Lift-Served Skiing at Crystal

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Tomorrow, Saturday July 16th, will be the last day for lift-served skiing at Crystal Mountain. It’s been a long, eventful season and thanks to La Nina we’ve broken all sorts of records this season. Here’s a recap:

  • 612″ of snow fell at Crystal Mountain this season (breaking the previous record by a good foot and change)

    The King in late April, 2011

  • We reached our maximum snowpack in April. I used to think that after April 1, even if we got big storms, the snow would already be headed towards its inexorable slide towards the rivers, melting a little every day. Not so this season.
  • 60+ days of Avalanche Control by the ski patrol

    Snow Safety Director Chet Mowbray getting up close and personal with Horseshoe Cliffs

  • New Gondola!

    My favorite ride

  • Longest season on record
  • My personal best for powder days

    Powder-licious

So, with all these big reasons to proclaim our fealty to La Nina, join me up at Crystal Mountain tomorrow to get a few more turns. We’ll be raising our glasses at 3pm at the Summit House to toast the season, the gondola and most of all, La Nina. That lady of winter can visit anytime; she’s always welcome in my backyard.

What are your favorite ski conditions?

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photo by Kim Kircher

With spring skiing upon us (fingers crossed), I’d like to take this opportunity to ask all of you about your favorite ski conditions.

photo by Kim Kircher

Is it powder? Spring Corn? Moguls? Groomers? Anything you’re skiing at the moment? Take this poll and let us know.

photo by John Kircher

photo by Kim Kircher

photo by Andrew Longstreth

Avalanche Control–What a Day!

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Yesterday I did two avalanche control routes with my good friend Anna. Due to the high winds and heavy snow of the previous day, the mountain was blown flat–rendered smooth and filled in. I love those kind of days when the mountain feels pristine and clean as if never touched by skis or boards.

But wind slabs are dangerous too.

Debris from the slides we started piled up high below Horseshoe cliffs. A shot placed in just the right spot can penetrate a weak spot and yank free an avalanche. Other teams got big results too. But then other shots did nothing.

In Southback, my first shot on the southeast side of the King pulled out an 8 incher that spread through the lower bench–not a bad result. But when the debris settled, Anna and I realized the pile of debris at the bottom was much too large. We later realized why.

When it barreled through the steeper section below the bench midway down, the weight of the avalanche broke lose a deeper layer–perhaps 2 feet lower, creating a much bigger, much deadlier avalanche.

The team on the north side of the King had a similar result above Elizabeth lake. Perhaps we have a buried surface hoar layer weakening our lower snowpack.

Looking out past ThreeWay in Southback, I also noticed signs of natural avalanches all the way from Joe’s Badass Shoulder, past Speed Control and Rooster Head towards Dogleg. From a distance, it’s hard to tell, but I saw what could have been a six-foot crown.

We finally opened Southback at 3pm, and in just 30 minutes of being open, our reliable skiers came to track it up and help stabilize the slope. Thanks to all those that kept the faith, didn’t leave early, waited at the gate off of Chair 6 and were rewarded with the deep promise of a pristine line all to themselves. I even saw Ross Gregg, Dirtbag King, enjoying some fresh turns.

All in all, an amazing day on the mountain!

Winter Storm Watch in the Cascades

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(This post has been updated.  See below.)
The National Weather Service is predicting a big storm to hit the Cascades Tuesday night.  Forecasters are calling for 4-6 FEET of snow to fall in a 48 hour period.  It seems farfetched, but keep your eyes on the weather.  It could be epic.

Several years ago, 60 inches of snow fell in a 24 hour period.  We still refer to that storm as the 60 Incher.  It was back before fat skis; Green Valley looked like a still photograph with people pointed straight down the slope, frozen in place. 

Of course, with this amazing storm galloping towards us, John and I decided to take a vacation.  The holidays are over, the gondola is up and running and we’ve both been working non-stop since November.  A few days in the sun seemed like a good idea. 

But we might just miss the biggest storm of the season.  At least I won’t have to track it from afar since my computer was stolen out of my car yesterday while at a meeting in Southcenter Mall (bastards!). 

So if you go up into the mountains this week, be safe and remember not to inhale too much snow.  Tuck your chin into your collar, wipe your goggles and enjoy the euphoria.  I know what I said earlier about fat skis.  I take it back.  If it snows 6 feet, bring your Pontoons.  You’re going to need them.   

Oh yeah.  And don’t save any for us.

Update: As of Tuesday morning, the forecast center is now calling for a warm up later in the week.  It is still supposed to dump tomorrow, but by Thursday it will be warm and still wet. Tomorrow will certainly be the better day, for obvious reasons.  Also note that with a significant warm up on top of cold, dryer snow, the avalanche hazard will greatly increase. Check the NWAC forecast before heading out-of-bounds.  

Winter Forecast

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Hola La Nina!  Big, deep snows coming our way.   Look out world, the center of the skiing universe might just be hovering over the pacific northwest this winter.  Yeehaw!  Check out this link.  http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/34891/winter-2011-heavier-snow-for-c.asp