Saturday, January 09, 2010

First day of ski lessons + freezing rain overnight = beer for me

So if you were following me on the twitters today you're aware of the rough details, but here's the full-fledged report. 'cause I know you care...

Today was the first day for the young Chickens' ski lessons this season. The weather forecast was iffy for Snoqualmie Pass: last night was the classic "wintery mix" of snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain. So we left plenty of time for traffic and picking up the other kids and parents coming along, then proceeded to run in to almost no traffic at all. Which meant we got there with plenty of time to spare. Yay that!

We trudged up to the Holiday chair at the mighty Summit Central, stood in a very short line on really crusty chopped up snow, and rode on up the hill. I got on ahead of the kids and told them I'd meet them at the ski school chalet, so I headed off across the mountain. At this point I realized that this would likely be a short day for ol' Scott Chicken. First, I'd left the backpack with the snacks and hot water in the car. Second, that backpack also had my low-light goggles. Third, it was pretty dim / flat and the goggles I had on weren't helping much. Fourth, and most importantly, it was like skiing on an ice rink. A very bumpy, sloped ice rink.

The areas where the grooming machines had chewed things up weren't bad, but anywhere else was nasty. And the route from the top of Holiday to the chalet went over a few such places.

We all survived the traverse, although Miss Maya was a bit shaken by her inability to maneuver on the ice. We met up with our friends, who had by now secured their rental gear, and waited for teachers to show up.

As I stood there I noticed that it looked like there were only two chairs running, both of them on the "easy" runs. Hmm...things were not looking good for me, let alone the lessons. The teachers finally arived and confirmed my fears: the upper mountain was closed until they could get things groomed a bit better. Turns out the freezing rain hit around 5 AM and destroyed everything they'd done the night before. The classes would head over to the other, less used and slightly steeper beginner chair and that would be that.

Well, since I wanted no part of that I hung out for a while watching the first-timers learn to ski and snowboard, talking to a teacher whose class hadn't shown up, and killing time. Eventually they opened the "Triple Sixty" chair and I figured I'd give it a shot. This chair, for those of you not familiar with the Summit, climbs to a ridge about 3/4 up the mountain. At the top you can go right and down a steep face, left and down a steep face, or left down a cat track to a less steep bowl area. The faces were closed, so I and everyone else funneled down the very icy cat track. If you've never skiied or snowboarded on ice you don't know what you're missing...loud scraping sounds, little directional or speed control, painful to fall on, it's everything you could ask for. The bowl was a little better, since they'd chopped up a few wide swaths with the groomers, but not good enough to stay on the hill.

So after that run I took my skis back to the car, changed out of my ski boots, grabbed the back pack, and went to the lodge for a beer. The only problem was that I'd left my book (Darksong Rising by L.E. Modesitt Jr.) at home. Ah well...

Finally met the kids back at the chalet at 12:30 when their lessons were over. They'd had a good time, although the chair stopped running at some point and they had to climb the hill the old fashioned way. And the other kids, all of whom were in their first lessons ever (two former skiiers trying snowboarding, one brand new skiier) also had great times. And hey, I got to enjoy a guilt-free SnowCap!

No comments: