Tag Archives: Powder Snow

Should You Keep Your Joy to Yourself?

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This is the moment to feel joy

As I stood at my locker the other day after skiing, a fellow ski patroller said to me, “So I hear you’ve been skiing powder?” He paused while I nodded. Before I could continue he said, “I don’t want to hear about it.”

I smiled and nodded. “Okay.” I turned back towards my locker, switched off my avalanche beacon and stored it next to my radio.

“I mean,” he said. “I know where you’ve been.”

I shifted around. “I thought you didn’t want to hear about it.”

He smiled and admitted that he kind of did want to know about skiing in Japan, and had heard that I’d recently been to Big Sky.

“I drove up to Cypress yesterday for a book signing and got back at midnight,” I told him, unclipping my helmet. “I didn’t even bring my skis.” I hung my head a little hoping to invoke a little pity. “I had to drink one of those 5 Hour Energy things I picked up at a gas station just to stay awake.”

Life is fleeting

“But you were in Japan.” He said flatly.

“Yes”

“And?” He smirked. It was killing him.

“And it was awesome.”

“I thought so.” Satisfied, he turned away.

Hiding your joy is funny business. Sometimes it seems the right thing to do. Whenever I tell another patroller about a recent trip, I emphasize the travel time and the pain-in-the-neck parts of it. I remind them that John and I actually flew for two days in order to ski for two days in Japan. Most people wouldn’t do that. It’s not all face shots and glory, I say.

But it was awesome? They want to know. And I tell them, yes, it was awesome. Some people don’t want the details; they just want to keep the flame burning on their own desire.

People wonder if writing a book is that way. I’m hesitant to say that yes, sharing my story is incredibly validating. I rarely mention that becoming an author has always been on my list of best-case-scenarios. That it is something I’ve dreamed about, imagining my book out there in the world. Instead, I tell them that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s hard to keep putting yourself out there (which is true), waving your book in the air like an idiot, hoping someone will buy a copy.

I tell people that it’s a heck of a lot easier to sell lift tickets than books. People feel guilty about books they don’t read. To buy a book and let it sit unread on the shelf brings some people great angst. I half joke and tell them they don’t have to read it, they just have to buy it. I talk about remainders until I notice their eyes glass over.

Yesterday I skied powder at Crystal. It was a surprising day–one where the “Real Feel”™ of the 3 inches of reported new snow was more like 10 inches. I hiked the King and found untouched snow in Silver Basin. After my first turn in, I realized I wasn’t smiling. I was thinking about how much time I had before I needed to be somewhere else.

I stopped.

Someone was skiing the chute to my left, and I caught glimpses of his blue jacket and silver helmet. The sun poked through the clouds and glistened on the trees to my right. I could hear only the wind and the soft beating of my heart. My blood softened a little, and I let myself melt a little into my surroundings.

I pushed on. This time I smiled big, letting the cold air freeze my teeth. I made wide arcs across the chute, certain the rocky ribs were covered in snow, and picked up speed. At the bottom another skier waited in the trees and I swooped past him, smiling and breathing loudly, taking large gulps of the snowy air.

As I skated out the long cat track, I kept on smiling. I noticed the way my legs pushed and my triceps worked and took joy in the movement of my body. I reminded myself that someday I would no longer be able to do this. Our best moments, like all moments, are temporary.

It’s no good trying to hide your joy. Life changes in an instant. This moment right here might be your last chance for joy. I say revel in it.

What do you say?

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Selkirk Tangiers Womens Retreat with Anne Keller

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Anne Keller, Selkirk Tangiers Guide

Anne Keller, a former Crystal Mountain ski patroller, has moved up in the world. She’s leading heli-ski trips. As you can imagine, of all the Shangri-la jobs available to one-time ski patrollers, being a heli-ski guide is at the top of the list. Anne doesn’t just want to ski powder all day; she also wants to share it with you. Anne’s one-of-a-kind. You can read more about her, and check out her awesomeness, in Freeskier Magazine.

She’s offering two Women’s Retreats this winter in January and March. Not only is this a great opportunity to ski with Anne and other like-minded women, it’s also cheaper than going with the guys. I recently wrote an article about how there simply isn’t enough women heli-skiing. It should be on any skiers bucket list. Furthermore, the conditions up in Revelstoke are good right now. So if you’re a women who likes to ski powder, aren’t booked in January, and want a trip of a lifetime, this is it.

Package Includes

  • Unlimited vertical over three days – great value!
  • Three nights accommodation based on double occupancy at the Hillcrest Hotel, a Coast Resort
  • Meals: full buffet breakfast, gourmet mountain lunch, après ski snacks, and dinner
  • Barryvox Pulse avalanche transceiver and related safety equipment
  • Backcountry safety briefing and beacon training
  • Powder ski or snowboard rental
  • ACMG / IFMGA guiding services
  • EXTRA Pampering: Women’s specific powder performance ski or snowboard rental, Pink STHS t-shirt, Mini-Pedi or Mini-Mani with Martinis at the Repose Massage Therapy and Day Spa, morning or evening Yoga (optional), $50 will be donated by STHS to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for each package sold.

Available on January 7-10 or March 10-13, 2012. Three days starting from $2,960 pp.

Call 1.800.663.7080 to book.

Anne Keller, a Washington native, has been climbing since 1985, and has been guiding since 1995. Her guiding experience includes over 50 ascents of Mt. Rainier, several expeditions to the Alaska Range, and numerous routes in the North Cascades, the Sierras, and the Tetons. She has established new routes in the North Cascades, led an expedition to the Pantheon Range, and she is proud to have completed the popular ski mountaineering objectives: the Forbidden Traverse, and the Spearhead Traverse — each in a day. Anne was recently featured in Freeskier Magazine, highlighting her achievement of becoming the AMGA’s sixth female ski mountaineering guide.

Tree Well Safety Video

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With the return of winter, I thought this might be a good time to remind everyone about tree well safety. I know we like to pretend we have “no friends on a powder day,” but actually these are the days when your skiing partner could save your life.  Check out this intense video in which a skier gets completely entrapped in a tree well.

What’s amazing in this video is really how small that tree is, and how very hard it would have been to find the victim if he hadn’t been skiing with partners. For more information about tree wells go to www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com.

If Ullr Were Alive Today

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According to popular opinion, Ullr is the Norse god of skiing, bow hunting, agriculture and one-on-one combat. Some sources claim he’s the inspiration for Santa Claus. Without a recorded myth, information about this god is pretty scant. But that hasn’t stopped the skiing world from conscripting him.

Ullr Pendant from Ragweed Forge

Skiers love Ullr and have attributed much to this god, even though the evidence isn’t quite there to back it up. Most specifically, he’s been called the god of snow, which, when you think about it, isn’t that big of a stretch.

Mythologically speaking, Ullr was the son of Sif and stepson of Thor (the god of thunder). He may have been the son of Egill, the archer, which makes sense with the bow and all.

He married Skaadi, the goddess of winter, which, as a skier, was a really brilliant move. Just that move alone makes him a worthy candidate for all the adoration he receives from the ski industry.

Back in 2000, I mounted an Ullr For President campaign, but unfortunately we all know how that election turned out. He’s been around forever, but he seems to be gathering more followers every day: Ullr has a facebook page; every year Breckenridge hosts a huge Ullr Fest to celebrate winter; there’s even a liqueur named in his honor, Ullr Nordic Libation. Recipes include the Pow Pow and the Hot Spank, and their website claims, “He is who you pray to for snow when the mountains are bare and pay homage to with libation at the end of a day on the mountain.”

My stepson recently tattooed Ullr onto his shoulder, and I wear an Ullr pendant around my neck, especially during the early winter months when I’m really praying for snow.

If Ullr were alive today, I think he’d be a ski bum like this guy. Or perhaps, he’d be a pro skier, someone like Eric Hjorliefson or JT Holmes or maybe someone as humble as he was awesome like Arne Backstrom (RIP). Either way, Ullr would ski upwards of 150 days a season. He’d probably live in a snow cave or maybe a van in the parking lot. Every night, he’d have a powwow with his wife, Skaadi, and they’d decide how much snow would fall by morning. Some days would be just a little light fluff over groomed, making for some nice boot-top pow. Other days they’d conjure up a big storm, the kind other skiers beseach him with prayers over. He’d make it fall in big flakes that swoosh when his skis sliced through it the next day. Ullr  and Skaadi would ski together those days, lapping up the glory of snow and skiing and a match made in Norse heaven. Only when he had to run to town for groceries and mead would it stop snowing. Those days would be bluebird.

Snow!

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It’s snowing at Crystal Mountain! Riding the chairlift, you often hear people say “you should have been here yesterday.” I like to think that any day on the slopes can bring that certain type of mountain transcendence we all crave.

I just wish I didn’t have to miss a powder day. My husband and I are on a brief vacation to Whistler, checking the weather and wondering why the snow couldn’t creep up north just a little more. As I read the telemetry, and see that Crystal has picked up almost two feet of snow since we left on Monday, I have to admit I’m a little jealous.

But as I look out my hotel window at the Whistler Village, the gondolas are spinning, and foreigners are queuing up for the lifts, I have to remember that any day on the slopes is great.

Snow in the Forecast

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Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 80%
Snow

Hi 21 °F

NOAA is calling for 1-2 feet of snow at Crystal between now and Thursday. Looks like more powder is on the way! The most promising day looks to be Wednesday: “Snow showers. High near 21. West wind around 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.”

Another way of putting it is this (as read in the NWS forecast discussion): A MODIFIED ARCTIC BOUNDARY IS EXPECTED TO PUSH SOUTHWARD ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY…AS FRASER RIVER OUTFLOW INCREASES IN RESPONSE TO STRONG SURFACE RIDGING BUILDING SOUTHWARD OVER INTERIOR BRITISH COLUMBIA.

This could even bring snow to the lowlands. So my suggestion is to get up the mountains. It’s where the snowplows live.

Happy President’s Week in the Cascades!

Best Day of the Season

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Yesterday was the best ski day of the season at Crystal.  My husband and I both had the day off (well I did, John never really has a day off).  After the rain the previous few days, I didn’t have much hope for a powder day.  Boy was I wrong.  The snow was light and it just kept falling, each run was like hitting the refresh button.  My favorite days of skiing are like this: snowing so hard that you hide your mouth in your jacket collar,

protecting your face from the blowing snowflakes and face shots.  What made yesterday so special was sharing it with John. He’s my best friend and ski partner, and I’m so grateful that he’s still alive and sharing these kinds of days with me. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.