Thursday, May 18, 2023

Best I Ever Had

Epic Friday pre-work turns on the most epic beginner hill this side of Mt Baker.  Chair 7 Extreme, Bogus Basin, ID. 
Did I mention it was late April? BURL SICK GNAR CORE BRO.

Unofficial Networks must be bored.  They have a list of places with some good powder skiing, pasted up there like some sorta divine revelation.  Real shocking list.  Japan, Revy, Japan, Alta.  I hope whoever done writ that shit made them big bills.  I mean, the journalism required.  Staggering.  Or if it's AI I hope they give up turn the whole shebang over to the robots.

I think this is what the kids useta call "powpow"? I mean, like, Snowboard Museum Guy's contrail is billowy and stuff. 

With little further ado, here's our list:


That's what I'm talkin abote. Suck it, Copper.

Just remember, if you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do.  And if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere.

This cat knows.

Title from a song Gary Allan had a hit with in 2005 that was originally recorded by the late-90s epic AI-rock band Vertical Horizon. Don't think too too hard abote it.  It wasn't that good.

Shoot. I just realised that back in the day I made the same number of turns on the King on teles that I did on Chair 7 Extreme. Anybody got a time machine?

Saturday, March 11, 2023


 Mikaela Shiffrin is officially the G.O.A.T.!

Today in a slalom race in Åre, Sweden, she won her 87th world cup race, making her the winningnest alpine skier of all time.

She is rad.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The pilgrimage has gained momentum.

By Eino Holm

Unofficial Networks, aka the Bestest Ski Blog Site in the Whole Woild, has a thumbtacked post, or whatever, on their blog currently.  Something about a hajj or, like, what y'alls is sposeta do as major skier broskis.  It's funny.  Like, who are you to tell ME what to do, Matt?! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!?! I AM THE BEST SKIER ON THE MOUNTAIN.

I check all the cornices.

Anyway, what makes me laugh about all of these listicles, along with the twin facts that some jackass made up a cutesy and annoying term for them and that they still somehow exist, is the confidence with which folks post them.  #1 is Corbet's, natch, cos, y'know, intermediate-skier folks should book a trip, waste thousands, just to stare down into a very steep, incredibly challenging chute with a SORRY I KNOW IT'S A COOOL-WAHR mandatory air and realise they were lied to.  That skiing just isn't that easy, and that maybe, just maybe, some dud dude on the internet isn't really all that knowledgeable.

The list continues, with some random chair out east, a junk show in Tahoe, my least favourite ski area in Utah, and Alyeska.  Honourable Mention is Baker, which, well, maybe? But also maybe not, for the same reasons as Corbet's.  Baker can kill you.  (More so than most places can, not like when somebody does a routine crash and happens into a tree, which can happen anywhere, but like when a person makes a misguided but innocent left at the bottom of the Chair 5 side of Hemispheres and falls off a 200 footer and isn't seen until August.)  Let's be honest.  Most of us just want to ski.  I can speak for precisely nobody else, but since everybody does, I'll try anyway:  if I'm spending money, it's not to ride a chair folks claim is from the 40s (spoiler: it has been updated to the point where it's real dern challenging to claim it's older than my father) or to get all confused when tryna figure out Olympic Valley's crazy Spaghetti Bowl of chairs and trams and--wut?!?!--funitels and base areas and mid-mountain lodges just to get hosed by another northeast Pacific cyclone that comes in hot, but just a wee bit too far north and closes all the legit terrain with some righteous Pineapple Expressery.  If I'm spending money to ski, especially if it's at the end of a hajj, it ain't gonna be shit people do all the time.

The Back Bowls at Vail.  Supposed quiet and solitude.  People pay for this, and travel cross country.  Wut.

Here's my top 10, cos I'm too cool for just 5, with a predictable-for-me amount of uncertainty and unwillingness to say one is better than another:

- Shasta.  Seriously.  Squallywood is just up I-80 from SF, and there's like lots of houses rich folk use at least 10 days a year and there's like a lake and lots of fancy lights over on the Nevada side and basically Palisades is fine if you are looking to fulfill someone else's dream, but let's be honest: you are not Shane, and you are not Ingrid, and you are not Jonny.  Neither am I.  Save yer money, and Drive North.  (Your choice, John Hiatt or Suzy Boguss.)  Mt Shasta City is funky, weird, cool, foreign, dirty, in the trees, and, simply, not annoying like Tahoe.  Tahoe would be rad without, well, being Tahoe.  Plus, there's Pinus attenuata and Abies x shastensis on them hills. Weird is better, believe me. Also, too, as well, you just might be the best skier on the mountain, and you absolutely will not be on KT. And did you hear they built a new chair and people think it's hard to access cos you have to--gasp--ski there? Seriously.  You should read the Instagram comments.  "BUILD ME A BUS OUT OF A SNOWCAT AND PUT CARPET ON THE FLOOR AND A FEATHER BED SO I CAN GO SKI GREY BUTTE."  "I WANT A TOW ON A SLED BUT LIKE, WITH EXTRA SPECIAL SNOW PROTECTION AND MAYBE A GLASS OF PORT AND A DOG TO CUDDLE WITH COS I WANNA SKI GREY BUTTE." It's funny, but I don't get it.  Last time I was there, one simply ducked off the back side of Coyote and skied fall line to the bottom of the butte, where the chair is now.  Hm.

- Woof Crick.  I mean, how, Matt, did you miss Col-o-RAD-o?!?!?!? Everybody knows, when you list skiing, Colorado is number 1.  And, natch, Woof Crick isn't in one of your fancy multiverses or even part of the Colorado ski area exchange.  One of the chairs is called Treasure Stoke, and aren't all skiers all about the stoke?  Seriously, though, Woof Crick isn't near anything.  CW McCall aside, nobody outside knows where Woof Crick Pass even is, even, and outside of ski mag nostalgists and nerds nobody cares if there's skiing outside of Telluride or Aaahspen or Vail or Summit or Steamboat.  Or Winter Park.  (Okay, so, CO is pretty well-known.)  Anyway, to get to Woof Crick, if you are the jetsetting type, you gotta fly into Farmington UT NM (KFMN) and start asking for rides.  If you just think "it's in Colorado" and book a seat in a giant wingèd tube bound for Stapleton, you'll then be looking through the rental catalogues hoping for an Escalade with good gas mileage, cos it's a loooong damn way to the other side of the hill. Hence, hajj.  You go through places like the real South Park, Gunbarrel Station, Saguache (important cos you probly can't say it correctly), and Poncha Springs.  You'll cross the Rubicon Rio Grande, be humming Woof Crick Pass, way up on the Great Divide, truckin on down the other side, except that you don't hafta truckin on down the other side cos Woof Crick is right there on the pass.  You'll get confused again cos, of course, you'll think you're in Canada.

- Bormio.  (Seriously, Matt, how did you not Europa?) It's near the Stelvio, and, like der Schweiz, and Österreich, and when you can fly into Milano, flounder about like a tourist, try to find a Stelvio to drive up way into the Ortlers on a road called STRADA DEL PASSO DELLO STELVIO HOW COOL IS THAT.  Anyway, I got lost.  Just go.  It takes forever, and people do pilgrimages, like the real kind, through Italia all the time.  You heard it here first.

Everyone knows you hafta drive an Alfa if you are a skier.  Or something like that.

- Okay, I'll admit it, Mad River Glen (MRG) is cooler than most places.  I'd like to go there.  There's probly at least a little bit of pilgrimage-type travel involved.  Still, if I gotta go all that way, the first place in Vermont I'm skiing is Owl's Head, QC.  I mean, it's named after a dude called Owl.  And it's in Canada.  That's like, if you're going to Vermont, but you forgot and just kept going and then some Sirens called out and you took the boat into shore, and then you woke up from your dream and found some real nice poutine and hopefully a Trois Pistoles.  Seriously.  Also, I've seen pictures of the view from that place.  And it's next to Lake Memphremagog, which is a pilgrimage just saying it and also, it's kinda like Gog and Magog, and that's all sorta connotations right there.

- Bigrock, Maine.  It's way up there.  A long way from anywhere except the NWS office in Caribou.  I think you can see Canadia from the top of the big Mueller double.  I know, I know, you can see Cannuckistan from lots of ski areas, like Baker, Bromont, Mont Bechervaise, Whistler, Lake Louise, Mount Saint Louis Moonstoone, Stoneham, et al.  But those places are all IN Canada.  Just ask the locals.

That one peak at the back is in Canada and that's all that's needed, thank you very much.
Photo credit: Peter Landsman, Lift Blog.

- Lofoten.  Just go.  Seriously.  Stop arguing with me.  Say hi to my family, too, if there are any of us left in Skutvik.  Skutvik's across the water, but there's a ferry.  My grandma's cousin Bodvar painted there, and, probly not coincidentally, that part of my family is the Skutvik part.  Like, that's literally our name.  If you don't believe me, then you can take a flying f

- Manning Park.  Before you ask "where's Manning Park?" just listen.  YOU CAN SEE HOZOMEEN FROM THERE AND THAT'S LIKE JACK FRICKIN KEROUAC AND SHIT AND GOOOOOOGLE MERTH SAYS IT'S 42,753 FEET AS THE RAVEN FLIES (seriously, why do we care how the crow flies when ravens are so much cooler?!) WHICH IS LIKE, I DON'T KNOW, SOME MILES.* AND, since we're talking about long walks drives, Manning Park is a Wet Side ski joint on the Dry side of the Cascades.  Think about THAT.  I bet you didn't even know there were Cascades in Canadia.  It's a bit of a drive, 160k from Abby, and is in the Similkameen drainage, which drains to the east and is like, International and stuff.  Also a cool name.  And even though this beautiful Murray-Latta is no more, the views are unstoppable.  Did I mention Keraouc?

That's more like it.  Manning Park, BC, and yes, Hozomeen.  The big one right there.  Next to the other big ones.  Keraouc sat in a really cool shed at the top of a small peak behind that one peak, actually more of a ridgeline, and wrote a real complainy book about being lonely even though it was his choice and he was like sposeta be seeing God or something? Anyway, he missed the point so that you can get the point.  Now, go take on the day.

- Discovery, Montana.  It's in the middle of nowhere.  It's the biggest joint in the country without a detach.  If it isn't, I don't care, it still is in my mind.

- Cannon.  I mean, the name, the history, the tram (I hate trams, but I'd get over myself), Lahout's, bad weather, big mountains, the funky layout, trees, cold, rain, rime, it's got all the things.  It's so far north, if it were in Washington it'd be in Coburg, OR, just north of Eugene.  It's between two places with such storied names as Bethlehem and Woodstock.  I mean, neither is the real one, but that's okay.  Also, interestingly, the western portion of Cannon is Mittersill, Blizzard is listed as their official ski, and wouldn't you know it, BLIZZARD'S FACTORY IS IN MITTERSILL, ÖSTERREICH HOLY SHIT MIND BLOWN.

You can tell this is Skutvik because of how it is.

- -

Just kidding, I know it's not Stapleton.  It's the new Illuminati Spaceport out in the desert into which you fly on hajj.  The one with all the secret tunnels.

*8, give or take.

Bonus:  Spaghetti Bowl in SLC.  Lookit a Palisades map if you don't believe me.

- Title from REM's Pilgrimage.  But you knew that.

Monday, December 26, 2022

You've got answers? We've got questions.

 Apparently Jonathan Ellsworth of Blister Gear Review and Cody Townsend of Cody Townsend have a podcast.  I feel like these podcast things are popular.  Anyway, they asked for ski town relationship questions, and Amy and I had some, but really I'd rather ax some other types of questions instead:

1) When I was 20, I could tele 7 days a week.  It's only been 21 years, why can't I still tele 7 days a week?

I blame the push-broom on The Place That Shall Not Be Named.  But hey, limber pine!

2) How do I build a time machine?  I need to go back and salvage those two pairs of red purple aubergine Salomon S914s from the skis that weren't worthy of the bindings before selling the skis.

3) Why doesn't Mayor Lauren (or any of her predecessors) allow it to snow more in BoyCee? 75 inches in town and 450 at the hill doesn't seem like too much to ask. Baker gets like almost 1800 inches or whatever.  I may have hit the wrong unit-toggle on their snow report.

4) Why does everything hurt? We're both only in our earliest 40s.

5) How do I get people to pay me to ski while I provide nothing at all of value to them? I feel like there should be positions at ski areas for that.

"And that's when I realised that if you can ski Yawgoons, you can ski anywhere."

6) I want access to a binding bench and an open-stone bow grinder, but I don't want to change jobs.  Help!

7) Why is Vail?

8) I want my Forester to act like my ol' GL wagon most of the time except when it needs to be fancy like warm seats and lots of cupholders and modern airgoonoomics and that 6 speed (well, 4 and 2 halves).  Can you go tell Subaru to do that for me? Thanks.  Remind them that ABS is great when you are actually braking, but not when you're just turning corners with vim and vigor and it's snowing and the person in front of you is, um, scared, and I'll just goose er a little and HOLY SHIT WHY IS MY CAR TRYNA SHAKE ITSELF TO DEATH I SAID OFF NOT SLIGHTLY LESS ON

9) All the mainstream skis I like are expensive and instead I want custom that's more o no I broke

10) Salomon made the 747 back in like '87 and nothing since has really improved on it in any meaningful, life changing way.  Maybe since you guys know people, you could have them make a run in that sexy mid 90s 997 Equipe red for me.  I'm an N-9.5, but I like the symmetry of a 10, so tell them to make it 5-15 (I think the OG was 6-14, which is totally fine, but, like, FIFTEEN) so I's right in the middle, please and thanks.  Also, make sure the toe is 1-2mm higher than the heel.  Enough of this needing to modify bindings to do em right.

This one.  Right here.  Like, all the time.  Yes, I can have an emotional connection with a binding I've only skied once, on my oldest brother's 204 Pre SmpnROther on Kemper's** in 1996.

11) Or they could do it in that rad 90s Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 purple.  You know the one.  It had the gull wing brakes.  Yeah.  Totally.

12) Y'know what, I also want a ornj 'n green pair.

13) One of my favourite Christmas records from growing up isn't on Spotify.  How can you help?

14) Dave Matthews wrote some decent songs 25+ years ago.  What happened?

15) What's better? 20" blower on boiler plate or 6" of day-old consolidated?

16) Yer both wrong.  It's July at Chinook with some tourists wondering just what in the heck yer doin.

This isn't July.  But you get it.

17) How do I get to Quebec when I don't have a passport or know how to travel or can't cos money?

18) Howcome ain't Idaho don't gots Orca?

19) Mont Sutton.


20) Why all them internet recipe sites got life stories 'fore you find the ingredients.

21) I don't believe in Alaska?

22) I bet you don't know how to say sauna in Svenska.*

22) Why skeening so spensive!

23) Do you like apples?

I like apples.  How you like them apples?  This one's a Sugar Bee.  I miss The State of Apples.

24) Is Vermont just New Hampshire without Chris Sununununununununu?

25) How do I go back to Winter Solstice in 1999 cos it was rad there was a biiiiiiiig moon also cold and my wipers didn't work cos inversion cold and why was I alone and was that actually a chupacabra I thought they only liked the desert not 60 inches a year Enumclaw OH NO RUUUUUN NO WAIT YER IN THE TERCEL GIVER PEEL OUT DOUGHNUTS YEAH

26) Pa says Garmish-Partenkirchen is real but I've never seen The Zugspitze also real?

27) Good thing that one guy from Rossi NW gave me this apron LATKES ARE AWSUM HOLY SHIT I EXCITED GIMME GIMME GIMME

28) What's the better ski town rig, Toyotacoma or Outback?

Mine never got stuck.  How bout yours? (Photo: Ben Hsu)

29) Is skiing really worth never seeing your out-of-state family over the Holidays?

30) How do you stay humble when you actually are the best skier on the mountain?

31) My trainee is faster on the race course than me and all, but I'm still better, right? Right?!

31) Why do nieces and nephews grow up so fast?

32) Why isn't good opportunity and good skiing in the same place?

33) I don't believe in Alterra.

Bring back the Riblets and that sweet flattop and those coveralls and enough of this bougie corporate bul HEY LOOKIT EAST PEAK IS FILLED IN 
(Photo vis Flickr, courtesy of the Forest Service NW division.)

34) Wait.  Hannah's got an Audi?

35) How is it 9.00 already?

36) Why did it rain all over our snow?

37) When do I get to skate on the roads?


39) Man, I really liked that Karhu Jak.


*Joke's on you, it's bastu!
**I swear I've never poached, Uwe.  NEVER.

Yes, that's a 90s Radio Shack ad we're referencing. And, if we're being honest, the best ski bum rig has got to be that funky mid-to-late 80s 4wd Tercel wagon.  Just drop that tyre pressure and you might even make it up Austin in 4 Low.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Middle of the day; already gettin dark outside

By Eino Holm

One year, we opened on the 4th of November.  Something like 18" new on basically dirt, weeds, dead beargrass stalks, and some leftover teaser-crust.  I was ecstatic.  Also, not alone.  A solid handful of us, whoever we were, were there.  Green Valley skied the best.  Maybe it was the only thing that really skied.  If I remember correctly, and I usually sometimes am sort of able to, we had to download on 11 (Chinook).  I think 10 and 3 were skiable.  I may be conflating two memories here, but I think I skied the morning and then headed to work.  In my ever idealised memory, it was in the Safeway, but it could have been later, when I was at Performance Bikes, pretending to know what I was doing.  At any rate, I skied horribly.  It was opening day, there were eighteen inches of unsettled Cascady manna on just enough crust to cover some of the dirt.  The bottom of 10 is a wet mess when not covered in snow, and otherwise it is a wet mess that is covered in snow, not always fully.  Several small springs keep the hillside muddy and alive with black flies in the summer.  Mel's Left (how a cat driver trail name got on the official map, I don't know) has this rad soft right-hander with a big enough rollover that I can still see Mike Kupsis gettin rad on some big Dynastar Bigs back in '000.  Mute grab, check.  Tele, natch.  Anyway, I didn't get rad, and when I tried to turn toward 11 to download, well, my teles and I had an argument.

See, the XXXs wanted to stop moving.  Like, now.  In fact, they wanted so badly to stop that both tips dug into the mud that was quickly spreading in the eighteen melting inches of early November gift.  I, you know, wanted to slide on over to the top of 11, step on them Targa heels, jump off the skis, and jump on the chair.  The skis won the argument at a trot.  Not a chance.  My logic must have been flawed.  I was muddy, pancaked in one puddle or other, cursing, sore already and the work day hadn't even started.  It was a stark enough moment that my memory of the day stops there, face down in the mud and maybe a little embarrassed.

Cooking up the White Ribbon of Death.  Bogus Basin, November '021.

Every year, ski areas around the world compete to open first. Some cheat, and locate themselves on the side of an Alp with access to glacial pitches in, like, Austria or wherever, and therefore are either never closed or are open in September. Here in the States and Canada, it's usually man-made, a contest between places as big and as corporately backed as Keystone, as famous as Lake Louise, or as small as Wild Mountain, Minnesota. Every so often, when the planets align and it's too warm in Summit or Rutland or Clear Creek counties, but the jet revs up and the weather pilot gooses the throttle a little, Crystal, Baker, Timberline, and a handful of other Northwest Nuggets vie to capture the flag. I definitely don't remember if 4 Nov was the continent's, the country's, or even the West's opening day, but it was Washington's, and all ours. I don't even really remember the rest of the year, but that day, that glorious, thigh-burning, poorly-skied day, that will be there along with all those closing days shoveling snow or scrubbing the tune shop floor in a white button-down and FarFar's tie cos, well, why the heck not?

November skiing is special, a kind of niche that many folks fight for and many other folks just do not understand.  Some times it's a 30 minute line at the bottom of BMX at A Basin.  For me, the best is '007, the year I got fired by a guy in Sumner who was too bloody stupid to never hire me in the first place and I spent all of November on unemployment waiting for a guaranteed ski tuning job that would start, as luck would have it, on opening day.  Crystal opened 1 December that year, got washed out by an historical rain cycle, and somehow managed (sorry, not somehow managed, it's Washington, home of the top 3 verified yearly snow totals IN THE WORLD*) to reopen the next weekend.  Driving up on Sunday, 2 Dec, was a wonderful gorp of axle-deep slop on the highway.  I got stuck by the late and lamented Crystal Inn cos the driver of the minivan next to me had parked too closely and I was worried if I goosed 'er the Legacy would slide sideways and smashify the damn thing.  Anyway, the dude from Robert's Rescue some random guy (don't sue 'im!) happened by with a tow strap that I just now remembered I also had in the trunk at the time, under the mat, and we shoveled all the snow we could between me and the Caravan.  He yanked me out with what I think I remember was a Grand Cherokee, in the process only sort of scraping the whole side of the offending minivan from tail pipe to headlight with my 30th-Anniversary-Gold, 5 speed Legacy L 2.2 wagon with the all-wheel drive that I then the very next day bought new snow tyres for cos, wouldn't you know it, studs are studly.

Nope.  Not even once.  Solitude, UT, 10 November '022.  I think the correct Norske phrase is uff da. Pic courtesy of some poor sap Jake Nixon (@thejakenixon on the tweeter, while it lasts) via Unofficial

Now, where was I? Right, November of 2007.  Paul Jr of Bonney Lake Bicycles of Sumner, WA (speaking of uff da; that shop name...) was advertising for help in August on his reader board, and I was advertising for getting the heck out of Performance Bikes.  It was a match made in at least the upper level of Purgatory until, in late October, he came to his senses and realised carrying an extra full-timer over the winter would be expensive and fired me.  He claimed I was a "bad salesman", which, well, maybe yer wrong cos I sold a damn Special Ed Endurbro in an October rainstorm, and specced and sold a drop-bar fat bike before The Radavist really hit its stride, but also, d'uh, I'm a mechanic, a cynic, and a sometimes-angry Sámi who has no idear why the heck these people keep coming in and asking questions the answers of which are super easy to find out by paying attention and not being a moronic suburban brain dead mediocre white as-----

I got lost again.  Apologies.  

At any rate, Jr laid me off, and that was that.  Blissful unemployment.  Brad answered my queries quickly, that he could totally use me part time starting opening day if I was just a wee bit flexible with my schedule, and being a single, unemployed, re-upping ski bum, I obviously was.  I was most excited about the down time, something I have not gotten since.  I imagined writing epic poetry (I'd prolly {haHA} even call it poesy cos that's what other people did who were like, hip and shit) in cafés with pretty baristas who'd flirt just enough to wake me up.  I'd go for long rides out at Sawyer on the XLT or the Monocog, and wander up to Corral Pass to stare into the abyss.  The road was still open then. I settled for the Starbucks in Sumner, road rides on the TCR cos I sold all of my dirt-worthy bikes, and the hope that I could one day again afford the alpine boot I returned, a Salomon Impact 10, the stiffest, most legit alpine boot I'd yet tried on in my blissful ignorance, to cover costs since I had (checks non-existant-at-the-time internet banking) $0 in savings at that exact moment.  With unemployment, returned boots, and three bikes sold, I was sittin' pretty.  Enough to not get a paycheck for 6 weeks and yet never feel the pinch I so often have felt.

Sexy or just weird Frenchist æsthetic? You decide.  Also, the buckle retension springs broke and would poke my hands.  Blood, man.  It's a trip.

Phew.  Then, it was quiet.  The last few days of October disappeared.  I assume I got up and did things, but I don't recall.  I do recall talking to Doc Clark about a skin condition (that I still have, so he was wrong) which he thought was MRSA.  I hate antibiotics.  So much farting and uncomfortable pooping.  Couldn't even enjoy Mama Stortini's on Chris' birthday.  I think one of the days in early November I went up to Greenwater and hung out with Liza, which is something we did then.  We haven't spoken in over a decade, and now that I'm way out into my 40s, I'm genuinely sad about that, and I know I'm at fault.  Anyway, she had just got a new-to-her black Impreza 5 speed.  It was a fun little car to drive, more responsive than my grocery-getter Legacy.  Or was that '008?  Again, memory.  Sheesh.  Somewhere about Chris' birthday, it started snowing in the hills, and by Veteran's Day, Naches Peak was skiable.  I ticked off little lines that in Summer (the Other Ski Season) aren't lines cos the snow is so deep and everything is just ramps.  One line I had to rappel in on an Abies lasiocarpa bough.  It was glorious.  Liza called my new-to-me flip phone and told me to do it.

I got four days on snow in November, a number I now recognise as unimaginative, but which may have been due to constraints I am not now remembering.  The last of which was a day of really, really, really nice myth-snow out in the Triangle Bowl with Brian Patrick.  I'd got to Chinook Pass later than I should have, which was early by the standards of my current situation.  People were parked every which way, Suburbans and whatever stacked on top of Legacies and beater Broncos from Lakewood.  I was pissed.  Full-on rage.  I mean, who the heck were these people?  Chinook is MY personal ski area!  I threw skin to ski, boot to floppy G3 binding, kit to snow, and ran.  By the time I reached the saddle between Naches and Triangle Peaks, I almost threw up.  I'd made the two-ish miles in 15 or so minutes.  I know what sorta mile that makes.  Sue me.  I was fitter then.  After retching, I laughed a little, watched the trees a minute, and started looking for tracks to follow.  On the move, I ate my apple.  I love apples.  I summited the Triangle easily, and stood there taking in the view.  Brian came up from below, and we exchanged shit-talking pleasantries about the conditions, the absurd crowd down at the pass, where we'd been all summer, y'know, life.  We made two runs in what is still the best November snow I've skied.  I think he stayed, beast that he is.  I headed back for the truck, and dinner at my parents.  It felt, for that moment, like I'd arrived.  (Today, I'm always surprised how quickly that sort of feeling can dissipate.)

November turns are better far than November sitting-on-the-couch.  Hiding from the Eye of Sauron, Thanksgiving, '022, Bogus Basin.  Mambo Left and Right.

For all the good skiing that November held, and this November recently passed, most early season turns are like last Sunday at the local Slop House.  I damn near cry for the feeling of being back on snow, and the turns are meh.   My feet hurt, my lungs hurt, and I wish there was a cello following me playing that one Bach suite.  They are irreplaceable, full stop.  And at the same time, forgettable, full stop.  So many Amerikanski folks associate skiing with the calendar pages between Thanksgiving and President's Day.  I just don't get it.  For me, fall skiing is borderline religious, but rarely is it good.  That month, November of '007, is the only one that stands out.  There are blips and blorps, yes, like Veteran's day of '005, skiing chalk (?!?!?!?!) on the Front Side on the ol' 1080 Gun, or Sweet Revenge and Bear Hollow with 3800 of my closest Utah buds in Northern Utah's worst winter on record, but otherwise, it's the snow and the wind and the first taste that I actually crave.  Chinook Pass (always, forever) in the first snow.  Chris' Civic, enough snow that it's white, and cold, and the divide between now and never, between here and gone.


One memory, just cold, an inch or two on 542 above the E Lodge.  All Saints' Day, 2000.  Eli's Godmother's birthday, if I am not mistaken. John and Lizz just got married, and I am just lost.  The inertia of 14 years of school is waning, my compass utterly unmagnetic.  I can't really tell where to go from here.  A couple months later, I just give up.  22 years later, I'm still a junior in college, like my nieces, though they'll stroll on past me this coming January.  There are a lot of people at Heather Meadows, some successful, most just wandering around like the four of us.  I think Lizz' friend Andrea is with us.  Does she still have Grandma Linnea's swivel rocker?  Maybe.  I think Kelly, friend of a friend, still has the dresser.  Or they had them, and who knows?  I am ashamed, from time to time, of how many cars I let fall off the tracks back then.  I held shit together for a while, barely, and then just, well, didn't.

Even so, this afternoon, 1 November 2000, all is well.  Everything is in front of me.  Table, Pan Dome, Herman, all above me.  God, too, if that's how this works.  Cold, low-angle sun, damp, Whatcom County, almost Canada; Border Peaks and Sefrit, Goat and Tomyhoi, Larrabee and Yellow Aster to the North, and to the East.  The cardinal directions that as a child I was certain held meaning beyond simply pointing the way.


Title from Zoë Muth's Taken All You Wanted. "Every day, about this time, this time of year, we lose a little bit o' light."  My parents' house is behind a 1000' peak, and this time of year, the sun goes down about 3 in the day.  I can't shake the feeling.

* I hear tell of much higher snowfalls, but without verification.  The point isn't that these three totals are absurd, or verified, just that I like the Cascades like some folks like cheese or The Beatles or Shania Twain.