Skiing the Idaho Backcountry

What Goes Up . . .
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I had ascended fully expecting the new terrain to be the highlight of the day; I couldn't have gone in with an outlook further from the truth. A perfect bowl was on the north side of the mountain facing north and a bit west. It seems that the sun had been gracing this area's skies about as frequently as I did Mr. Greenspan's calculus class during senior year of high school.

The storms that brought Jackson its flurries the past few days had spent considerably more time over these hills. The temperatures must have been colder here too—if the snow were any lighter it would have had to be glued to the ground to keep from floating away. And, since I don't think I have mentioned it yet, I'll say it now: There wasn't so much as a track from a squirrel, much less a ski, defiling the face of the bowl I was looking down. I felt I deserved a bit of rest after breaking trail for what must have been no less than 4,000 vertical feet, but I couldn't. I slurped down a GU, tore my skins off with the ferocity and speed of mating tigers (the Discovery Channel truly is a wonder), and smacked on some lip balm. Any minute of rest was a minute wasted in conditions like these.

I dropped in and immediately sank to my thighs. Since the steepness intimidated me a bit, I overturned and stopped any momentum before it had had any chance to build. I pointed for a bit to regain speed. Twenty meters later I had a bottom-of-the-ninth-home-run grin plastered to my face. I sank into my first legitimate turn. Turn after turn flowed together. Being the beginning tele-dork I am, I actually started counting how many turns I was linking together. Less and less of my face and more and more of my teeth became visible with each advance in number. I even forgot about the possibility of shotgun-toting ranchers and let out a hoot or two. I stopped counting at 50; my old record had been 19.

Just above the chutes, my over confidence got the best of me and, as much as I hate to admit it, what had been my most visually-pleasing tele tracks to date got a little ugly. The recovery wasn't graceful, but looked better than a face-plant.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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