Monday, December 02, 2013

Turkey Day Skiing

We were invited to a friend's house in South Fork and spent the day after Thanksgiving skiing at Wolf Creek.  This ski area is pretty well known for large amounts of snow - they got 42 inches the week before Thanksgiving.  That's a lot.

Window lift tickets are pretty reasonable ($58) and the place has a low-key anti-resort feel, which I like.  The main drawback is that this is some of the better skiing within a "reasonable" drive of Texas and Oklahoma and the place was riddled with really, really, really bad skiers.  I really wanted to yell "get out of my state" several times.

Pro tip: do not leave your ski boots outside in your car overnight.  In the parking lot at the ski area, I could not get the damn things on to save my life.  That plastic was so cold that it would not budge.  So I hoofed it over to the lodge and found a nice open spot inside by the rental counter.  It took a bit of wrestling, but I got them on., but not before an older (and overly helpful) ski instructor decided to give me tips on ski boot wearing.  (he started with "those are really nice boots" and me replying "yes, I know they are" and then he gave me tips on getting into the boots and how to buckle them.  ugh.)  I really think he thought I had no idea what I was doing.  It was a bit humiliating.  Next time, my boots are sleeping inside.

We didn't study the ski map very well, we just went up and found runs we thought would be ok.  We did a green run to warm up and it was a pretty boring wide groomer.  Next was a blue that started on a cat-track and ended in bumps.  Wha?  Based on my very limited exploration of the hill, it seemed that most blues were either crappy cat-tracks or ungroomed and bumpy.  The run we did several times ended in pretty big bumps which funneled into a central area with even more bumps and rocks and trees.  Every time we went down, there was someone who had crashed at the focal point and was blocking traffic.  They either need to warn people or groom the runs.  I liked the bumps but when I'm trying to find something easier for Will to navigate, bumps aren't generally what I look for.  Although, he did really well on the bumps, so I'm happy.

After lunch, we went and explored another part of the hill.  More trees, better snow (really, all the snow was good), some powder.  We did two runs over there and Will did pretty good.  Until he buried himself quicksand-style in powder and needed help getting out.  Our friend was really nice and helped while I stood there laughing.  A lot.  I just couldn't stop.  The snow was so deep and fluffy that every time Will went to push himself up, his arms sunk into the snow, which made him do a faceplant.  It was funny (and yes, I feel badly about thinking this is funny).  We gave him some poles and he drove the poles in up to their grips.  That's some deep snow.

After those 2 post-lunch runs, Will was done and our friend and I headed over to the far side of the area.  I was just blindly following him along.  He headed towards a double black diamond that was called Waterfall #4 or something.  It wasn't bad - not very steep, trees.  Then all of a sudden the ground dropped away from us and this is what we saw:
It didn't occur to me to actually take photos myself - I was focused on getting down.  Photos borrowed from
There were some people ahead of us and only one real way to enter the area, so we just hung out until they were through.  While we were waiting, some snowboarder crash landed to a stop right above us and wasn't too happy about what was ahead of him.  The only way out was to go down.
yeah, that's steep
looking straight up
This was easily the steepest skiing I've done in a very long time.  Fortunately the snow was really soft, so it was easy to control my turns and speed.  If it was icy, I would have been screwed.  I just took my time and actually, it was just fine.  Maybe 3-4 turns down, not a whole lot of sliding down sideways.  I picked my path really well and was in control the whole time.  I actually felt really good my skiing on that.

From that point, it was just really fun, nice powdery bumps and tree skiing.  We did two runs in the trees and I was in my happy place.  The pine trees smelled great and I was just really happy.

And then it was 3:00 and our legs were done.  It was a really good day.  I love skiing trees and bumps and wow, I still really love my skis (Volkl Auras).

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