Sunday, February 4, 2007

Cat skiing vs. dog skiing

While Pudd is out west spending his hard-earned cash to get some motor-assisted runs, some of us are earning our turns among the hardscrabble rocks and trees of the Canadian Shield (there's that word again!). I think of it as training for Jay Peak. Plus it's fun and free. For those not in the know, the RHSSCC (Ravenscliffe Highlands Ski, Snowshoe & Country Club, located at SBR and Blue Toes' woodland hacienda, affectionately named Hundwalden) is home to some of the finest tree skiing in the wilds of the small hills in which we live. Back in the fall, Telemark Dave and SBR spent a full day discretely pruning some of the grabbiest trees on the West Ridge but have had to wait three months for enough snow to makes the runs skiable. Yesterday was the day.

While TD was off yoyo skiing with his kids, SBR took a break from flooring installation and went for a backcountry expedition. Utah the wonder dog was in snow over his head. No green plastic tele boots and twin-tip Sick Birds here! We are riding metal-edged 175 cm touring skis with old leather tele boots. After warming up with a ridiculous bushwhack, I skied both glades we cut back in the fall. I was a little cautious due to being alone and not wearing my knee brace. Skied "Right Glade" first, which is more open. All was well, found a nice mellow line, remembered the virtues of rear foot steering in Telemark technique, then suddenly, snag! My rear foot (left one with the bad knee, too) caught a discarded evergreen from the pruning brigade. Fortunately I was going slow and no injuries ensued. It did take a lot of cursing and a complete sideways (downhill) somersault to extricate myself. NOTE TO SELF: remove all pruning debris, no matter how much snow you anticipate. Made it down with no further incident then, after some deliberation and rest, booted it back up and skied "Left Glade" in a state of hyper-awareness. The deep snow helped me keep the speed down and the result was very fun, smooth, slow-motion skiing (for Jay skiers this little pitch is as steep as North Glade but much tighter). This line takes you all the way down to the pond, a total of about 10 turns; woohoo!

After such a good run, I decided that I should quit while I was ahead, so I skied across the pond, got mired in slush and had to spend 10 minutes scraping ice off the bottom of my skis (thank Ullr for metal edges). The remaining ice helped with grip though, as I skied right up the bush road back to the clubhouse with nary a herringbone!

Utah the wonder dog "wade training" for powder skiing

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