13 of 31 - SOLSC 2018
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A friend posted this picture of himself and his son, enjoying the sun and some spring skiing. I was instantly transported to that very spot when I was nine years old...
Up one chair lift and then another, all the way to the top of the mountain - 5,420 feet. Sitting beside my dad with my arm around the pole between us, his skis swinging under him I had a dichotomy of emotions; pride and fear.
Alpental, the relatively small, independent (at that time) ski area where I learned to ski, has four chair lifts. Chair 4 has the beginner run that starts with a cat track. You can then advance to the other side of the lift and an intermediate option. Chair 3 is a solid intermediate chair with blue square options from top to bottom (though you can traverse over to the cat track). These two lifts are where my love of skiing began. Further east is Chair 1, which travels much higher up the mountain and has both intermediate and advanced runs. I thought I had arrived as a skier when I was first allowed to ski Chair 1.
I mentioned four lifts. Chair 2 ascends from the top of Chair 1 to very near the mountain peak. That chair was only for expert skiers, as the only way down is through a double diamond chute, "Upper International".
From the moment we started our way up the mountain I was both swelling with pride that my dad thought I was ready for this AND freaked out that the only way down was through that chute. Both very strong emotions. Without that pride the fear would have won and I would have baled at the mid-station.
As the top came into sight the view was amazing, the hillside fell away on both sides of us. (They say that it is so steep the lift poles had to be put in by helicopter!) Once we got off the chair I don't remember anything except the snow under my skis. As we waited our turn to head down the chute the fear part of the situation became much more pronounced.
I wanted to be the last one down, so I wasn't holding up anyone who was ready to ski. This first run I just wanted to survive! I did know that I could side slip through the chute if I needed to, but I really wanted some of the pride part to regain position. I forced myself to make a turn or two, but there was some side slipping in between those. As the rocks were lost beneath the snow and the hill opened up my confidence returned.
I'm sure it wasn't pretty, but I had skied "International"!