Tag Archives: Skiing/Snowboarding

Weekly High Five Report: High-Fives Foundation

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The mission of the High-Fives Foundation, based in Truckee, CA, is to “raise money and awareness for athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports community.”

Started in 2010 by Founder Roy Tuscany, who injured his spinal cord while skiing at Mammoth in 2006, High Fives has raised funds, secured alternative treatments and aided in the recovery of over fifteen athletes.

The Push to the South Pole, an expedition including two adaptive skiers, is sponsored by High Fives.

Also included in their programs is the very cool B.A.S.I.C.S. (Being Aware Safe In Crazy Situations) program, headed by the very rad J.T. Holmes. Check out the video here.

The foundation also offers REAL ANSWERS, a place to ask questions of athletes who have suffered injuries, as well as meet these personalities who have all chosen positivity in the face of hardship.

The Winter Empowerment Fund is an opportunity to help recovering athletes with the financial support necessary to get back in the game. Previous recipients include K.C. Deane who suffered a C-2 injury in 2010 while filming in the Tahoe backcountry. High Fives supplied the financial means for him to return to a professional level through physical therapy with Scott Williams, PT, OCS.

On August 10th, 2011, the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation opened the CR Johnson Healing Center as a service to commemorate the professional skier and beloved Truckee resident’s birthday.

The CR Johnson Healing Center is replete with physical therapy equipment used by healing professionals that High Fives works with.  Along with the Healing Center’s workout facility the Johnson family has generously donated an infrared healing sauna.

You can donate to the High Fives Foundation and make a difference for these athletes. Check out their website. These guys really do deserve a High Five.

Bravo guys.

The Evolution of an Opening

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Last week grass poked up through the snow in Green Valley

In just a few days, the slopes at Crystal Mountain went from little snow to epic powder. We opened the ski area on Friday, based on the forecast. And how lucky we were!

Saturday it snowed very hard. At closing time, as my husband likes to say, it was “snowing ten-year-olds.” We picked up nine inches of snow in just two hours. It snowed so hard the visibility dropped to almost nothing. I took a photo of the Campbell Lodge at sweep.

Looking at the radar that afternoon, the only precipitation falling anywhere in Western Washington was right over our heads. We were the only ski area to get much snow.

snowing hard at Crystal Mountain

Saturday it snowed ten-year-olds at Crystal

By Sunday morning, we had doubled our snowpack and we woke to pristine blue skies. The skiers must have thought the snow was packed out, because we didn’t have much of a crowd. These are rare days in the ski world–a foot of fresh snow, sunny skies and few lift lines on a weekend.

Only the third day of the season, and we already enjoyed a bluebird powder day. This is why I love my job. The mountains are capricious and the weather is fickle. Sometimes we get lucky. Very lucky.

John Kircher skiing Green Valley

Skiing Powder in Green Valley on Sunday

Opening Day

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Not a bad way to start the season!

Crystal to open tomorrow

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It’s official. Crystal will open tomorrow. Still very thin snow cover, and early season conditions exist. By that I mean rocks, creek beds and unconsolidated snowpack. Bring your rock skis and enjoy this fresh snow! Woohoo!

Fingers Crossed for a Crystal Opening on Friday

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The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch starting tomorrow morning. Right now, the NWS is predicting a few FEET of snow to fall at Crystal Mountain by Thursday night. If that forecast materializes, Crystal will open Friday November 18th.

And what a great opening day it will be. We currently have a little over a foot of good base in Green Valley and elsewhere. Add two feet of fresh snow, and we’ll be skiing.

Remember that early season conditions exist. Those rocks and creeks are now only buried by a little snow. Stay on groomed trails and runs.

Have fun and be safe. Let the 2011-12 season at Crystal begin! And pray that the forecast holds.

Memoirs from the Mountain: Opening day at Brighton Resort

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“Memoirs From The Mountain” is a weekly short video series that features the winter of professional skier Julian Carr. In this first episode, Julian and friends head to Brighton Resort’s opening day on November 10th, 2011.

These guys look like they’re having a good time. That’s what it’s all about.

First Turns of the Year!

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Conditions were sweet in Lower Grubstake

Today I skinned to the top of Crystal in blustery conditions. While it continued to shower elsewhere, we were blocked by Mt. Rainier, and stayed dry most of the day.

Our telemetry reads 14″ in Green Valley, and that felt about right. The wind has blown the snow into a smooth skein of great base-building material.

I only hit a few rocks

 

All we need now is one more good storm, and we are golden.

My first turns of the season were a bit ginger. I hit a few rocks at the top, but  found some quality snow on Lower Grubstake. As long as I stayed as light as possible, I was okay.

I didn’t have to take my skis off until I was almost all the way to the base area. Not a bad first day of the 2011-12 season.

Bring it on.

What Avalanches Can Tell Me About My Own Weakness

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How I Try to Pretend

Five Foot Crown in Bear Pits, March 2011

Weak layers in the snowpack are like fragile layers in our psyche. We can cover over them with slabs of bravado, carefully sintered together and work-hardened. We can pretend they don’t exist, or that subsequent snow has masked the flaw. As a diabetic and a rescuer, I prefer to bridge over my tendency towards low blood sugar reactions and pretend I’m in control.

Just like in the snowpack, weakness lingers. In fact, given the right conditions, cold temperatures and a shallow snowpack, those frailties grow even weaker. Sometimes ignoring those unsightly parts of myself makes them scarier foes, and yet I can’t resist. Who wants to stare her own ugliness down? When I have a low blood sugar reaction I hate to ask for help. It’s a weakness I try to bury. And yet its a ridiculous strategy.

A Ridiculous Strategy

Anna D. tossing a shot onto the slope, Southback Crystal Mt.

This morning I woke at 4 am. Hot sweat pooled in my clavicle and I threw off the sheets. “I’m having a low blood sugar,” I told John as I careened down the hallway toward the kitchen. I stood there naked and sweating and tried to prick my finger and smear the drop of red blood onto the tiny strip. When my brain is starving, it seems to shut off the less important functions like eyesight. I stared at my glucometer and tried to see the number blinking on the screen. It was either 64 or 34, either way a low blood sugar. I lifted my hair off my shoulders and let the sweat cool my skin.

John handed me a glass of orange juice and told me to drink. It was sweet and delicious. Diabetics can’t normally drink juice; it contains far too much sugar. I miss drinking orange juice. I wondered for a moment if drinking juice made the threat of a seizure worth it. I ran my tongue along the slick above my lip, leaned over the counter and rested my face in my hands. I was very tired and starting to get cold.

John helped me back to bed, where I buried myself in the damp sheets. My blood sugar was returning to normal and I shivered. John kept waking up thinking my shaking was the start of a seizure. I told him not to worry; I’d be fine.

Buried Facets

What used to be a forest now lays on the ground just uphill from my house

Just a few feet from my window, century-old trees lay in a jumbled mess. Last season a huge avalanche slid nearly from the top of the mountain and stopped within feet of our apartment. The aftermath of that slide was humbling. Trees and rocks were uprooted, or snapped in half and sent a mile down the slope, to rest just uphill from where I now lay shivering and clutching the sheets against my weakness.

While pretty on the surface, once buried facetted crystal become a dangerous weak layer

When the slide let loose, having been triggered by explosives thrown from a helicopter, the slab failed on an old weak layer. Months before, a rain event followed by cold temperatures had left faceted crystals that later were buried by late-season snow. When the stress of the new snow overcame the strength of the snowpack, huge slides let loose all over the mountain, running on that layer of beautiful, diamond-like crystals that wouldn’t bond.

I couldn’t control my shivering. The wet sheets provided little warmth, and the clock blinked 4:35 am. Between the tree tops outside the window the sky grew lighter. These very trees acted as the last defense against the tons of snow and debris that had nearly buried the bed I now lay in and the window I looked through. Faceted crystals will not bond to anything, will not ask for help from nearby slabs. Buried surface hoar harbors air pockets that create a growing weakness, nibbling away at its surroundings until a layer of crystalline dominoes is poised and ready to fail. The symmetry was almost too much to bear.

With a Little Help From Our Friends

When I look over the past few years of our lives, so many things had to go right. John lived through an impossible diagnosis. The cancer didn’t spread. He got the transplant. We weren’t in our apartment when the avalanche came down. We didn’t get buried.

During a recent interview a radio personality asked me what I’d learned since writing my book. I answered quickly. I knew this one.

My happy place: skiing powder with my husband

I have learned to be grateful. If we didn’t have buried weakness, gratitude wouldn’t come quite as easily. If John hadn’t nearly died we wouldn’t be living so large right now. If I didn’t have diabetes, I might forget to be humble in the face of risk, both on and off the mountain.

Weakness reminds us of our humanity. If we were perfect we wouldn’t need each other. John’s ordeal sintered our marriage, bonding the very crystals of our being together into a cohesive slab.

I looked at the clock again, it was almost 5 am, time to wake up and check the weather forecast. John and I looked at it together this morning, mapping the timing of the storms lining up in the Pacific, strategizing about how to get the mountain open.

If the forecast pans out, we could be open by early next week. Our lives are about to shift again–this time towards the yearly start to our ski season. I look forward to skiing again, feeling gratitude and joy and weakness.