Category Archives: Live to Ski

My First Time Skinning

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Last week was crazy! Along with working every day, I had a performance Tuesday with the Jackson Hole Community Band for the Wyoming  Special Olympics, then an Avalanche classes after work Thursday & Friday, and classes all day Saturday & Sunday with field work, AND I went to the Banff Mountain Film Festival Saturday night.

My turn to be the victim

The field work for Saturday and Sunday’s courses needed either Back County Skis, snowboard & snow shoes, or just snow shoes. I have snow shoes and am comfortable on them but I thought I’d have more fun on skis so I rented a back country ski package. Backcountry ski gear is different than downhill and come in a couple different skiing types, I rented an AT set up. The skis are the same as what I’m skiing on this year (fat skis) and  the boots are just a little different than downhill boots. The bindings are different, they lock down and ski just like alpine skis but the heals release for hiking and climbing, mechanically they are quite simple. You attach a ‘skin’ to the bottom of the ski, a removable traction enhancer that allow the skier to walk uphill on snow, referred to as ‘skinning.’ (I found a nice report on backcountry skiing at: ) I’m not the best skier out there, but can ski almost anything, but I need to work on my technique.

View from the top

Saturday we skinned Philips Canyon off of Teton Pass, we dug snow pits, we skinned, we searched for beacons, we skinned some more, at the end of the day we skinned up a ridge, took off the skins and skied down. That was the second worst ski run of my life, I fell every turn, the snow was so crusty I could not make my turns! (My first worst run was my very first day on skis when I was a senior in high school and fell in the lift line.)  The snow was so crusty I could not make little adjustments to my skis to balance, trees were everywhere so I did not have a long stretch to figure it out, and trying to lift my ski out of the crust was messing with my balance. Whenever I tried to lean back a little to get my tips out of the snow crust I fell on my ass, so I tried to pick up some speed to let my weight power through the turn and did a face plant. I did find one spot with better snow where I made 3 good turns, the instructor that had to say stay with me said “there you go” and BAM! back to the crust and more falling. I resorted to snow plowing just to get to the bottom. Once we got near the bottom, out of open area and between all the trees I did much better but by that time I was so tired I was moving pretty slow. I only had one moment where “what was I thinking” ran through my brain and that was on the way UP the ridge, I was pretty winded. Sunday we did it again! This time we skinned from the top of Teton Pass to the top of a bowl called Avalanche Bowl stopping to dig a couple of snow pits along the way. There were a few inches of fresh snow, I had a much better ski down. My calves were sore for 2 days!

Teton Pass

I learned a lot in the class including I have a lot to learn, I’m wearing my transceiver wherever I ski, I’m perfectly happy skiing a 25 degree slope, I need to add some more cardio exercises to my daily exercise routine, every one who plays in the snow should take the class, and “Pucker Factor” is a technical term used by avalanche experts.

I’ve driven over Teton Pass many times over the last 29 years, whenever I saw people hiking up the snow covered mountain to ski down I’d think “look at those crazy people” who knew I’d be one of those crazy people and have fun doing it.

Overall I would still say I had a fun weekend.

Digging Snow Pit

Top of the Mountain

Adventures in skiing with Jim & Julie

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

After several years of trying to get my friend Jim (AHS Class of 83) to come to Jackson Hole and go skiing he finally planned a ski trip to Jackson Hole. What a good year for it too, we have had the best winter ski season in many years! We got on the phone and planned a weekend, looking on the calendar for days that work for both of us and NOT on a holiday (lines too long.) We picked a weekend and he booked his flight. Sure enough, after a winter of fresh powder almost every day, it quit snowing several days before he got here. Bummer. No worries though, we have a deep base and cold air, the snow is not bad we have just been spoiled with phenomenal snow & powder this year. On the up side, the bumps were a nice size and fun to ski.

Sunday drinks at the Mangy Moose Saloon

Sunday drinks at the Mangy Moose Saloon

Jim skied Grand Targhee Thursday, I had to work and then I had band rehearsal that evening. Targhee is much smaller than Jackson Hole but they usually gets more powder than we do but not this year. Apparently Thursday night when I was at rehearsal Jim pointed out our window at Snow King, our town hill, and asked “is that it?” meaning is that Jackson Hole. My husband thought he meant ’is that all there is to Snow King’ and he replied “yes.” I think Jim was nicely surprised when we got in the car and drove the 12 miles to Jackson Hole Resort, a much bigger and more impressive mountain.

Jim brought his Blackberry, it was cracking me up. In the morning I’d get up, make coffee, then IM him in his room, in the basement, below my feet. “Good morning Sunshine, coffee’s ready” Wah, I want a blackberry!

Top of the Mountain

Top of the Mountain

We skied together Friday and Saturday at the Jackson Hole Ski Resort, as it turns out we are about the same level of skiing. My boss gave me a ski pass and I played hooky Friday. We skied hard the first day and slowed down a little the second day. It was hard pack snow and moguls. Jim likes moguls and I got lots of practice on them during his visit. I have been skiing on flat skis all winter so I had to find my edge and remember how to use it. Over the two days I took several runs I have never been on. including the run from the top of the mountain. Even though our tram is under reconstruction there is a chair lift that gets you to the same place. He talked me into going up there, I did not have the elegance I have on the flatter runs but I did it with out falling and it was FUN!

Friday night we went to the Cadillac Grill for happy hour martinis then bar hopped a couple of the local bars. I even brought him to the local red-neck bar and introduced him to one of the locals and his wife. We landed in the Cowboy bar, I had my boots and was ready to swing dance, but the band did not have a country beat good for swing, bummer. We did my traditional shot of Jack Daniels and favorite friendship toast, “here’s to you and here’s to me…”. We didn’t close the bars, due to me, the party girl in me wanted to stay out and play but the ski bum in me has total control of my body for the winter, I can’t ski all day, stay up until 2am, get shit faced, then wake up at 6am to ski all day again. But I had a good time.

Sunday Morning was departure day, I had planned to sleep in a little, go out to breakfast, see Jim off, and then go skiing with Cecilia. So much for plans, ski bum in me woke up at 0600 (how dare I try to sleep in on a ski day) so I got out of bed, made coffee, and looked out the window. It was DUMPING! Not just snowing, not blowing, one of those dumps where the snow is falling in big flakes from the sky and piling up everywhere. I IM’d Jim “coffee is ready” and “it is dumping.” We went to breakfast at Bubba’s, a favorite local spot, We were still getting dumped on! During breakfast he just kept looking out the window at the snow and saying “wow” with a big grin. We said our goodbyes, and he left to return his rental car and to the airport to fly home.

I had already promised my ski buddy Cecilia that I would ski a half day with her after Jim left. So even though my legs were trashed tired I went home and got my stuff together for another few hours of skiing. Then my phone rang, it was Jim, his flight was canceled due to the weather, 60% of the flights to and from Jackson were canceled and the rest were delayed… and dropping off like flies. The airport was a zoo. So he changed into his ski gear, right there in the terminal with people staring in envy, and I picked him up. You should have seen he in his ski gear, thumb out, and the big shit-eating grin across his face when I pulled up to the terminal (I wish I had thought to get a picture) we went skiing in the powder for 3 hours. It turned out to be one of those rare days that the snow got deeper and better with every run. We skied until we were literally ready to drop. What fun!!! Then we ended the day with Après-ski drinks at the Mangy Moose Saloon & Jim flew out Monday.

Off to the slopes ~ Think Powder!

I’m the Meanest mom in the whole world!

Monday, February 6th, 2006

This weekend the ‘get the teen out of bed to go skiing’ thing hit a head. His schedule last week other than school included Boy Scouts Tuesday, we let him go to the Teen Center after school Thursday, and he went to a friends house after school Friday. Saturday morning my husband dragged him out of bed at 0830 to go dig snow caves with the boy scouts for for next weekends camp out. Sunday I got him up at 0900 to go skiing. He didn’t want to go, he wanted to sleep until noon then play video games the rest of the day. I have a rule, if he skips skiing no video games all day. My husband applies the same rule to scouting events.

I dragged his grumpy bum out of bed at 0900 and we headed out the door at 1100, plenty of time to improve his attitude. But to no avail, he was in such a foul mood when we got the ski hill if flowers had been around they would have wilted. “Skiing is boring and I don’t like it any more!”. And from that moment on he was determined to NOT have a good time. It snowed all week, skiing was going to be GREAT. Sure, it can’t be too much fun skiing with mom but all his friends ski black runs and we ski blue runs. We hopped right on the gondola and went straight to the top of the hill. I told him to meet me where we can see the runs off of Thunder lift, we looked up the hill and the snow looked great, It was not too windy, and there was not too many clouds on it. So we met at Thunder lift, I thought if we skied something harder he might cheer up but NO all the was up the lift the sulk on his face was worse than ever. We skied to a run called Rag Run, it is marked single blue but for a short time is more like double blue, but the snow was foot deep skied powder. I told him he could ski ahead and meet me at Casper, he skied off so fast he missed my face plant in the powder (I think that would have put a grin on his face).

We skied for over an hour separately, then I saw him on the chair when I was on my way down the run, I challenged him to catch up. He did in less than one run. When he caught up I said “Already!” he had a grin on his face (yes a real grin) and said “I ski faster than you”. We stopped in the warming hut for a snack and I could tell he had been having a good time despite himself.

The highlight of his day was when we met up with one of my friends and her kids then went to the bunny hill for one more run before going home. We were playing follow Jenny (she’s 5 years old) and she went on a short trail through the trees. Kyle did not follow, he just watched me scream like a little girl and fall on my ass.

He admitted he had a good day and about 9pm apologized for being a grump.

Yup, I’m the meanest mom in the whole world!