To Cold To Surf, Go Skiing!

New House, New Skis

Living in the Lake Tahoe region this year has given me an opportunity to do something I haven’t done in several years. Ski. For the past six years I’ve been living in Texas, and haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy the mountains as much as I would like to. While moving from Texas to California, we ended up stopping at a family vacation home, and haven’t left. The home we thought we were going to buy didn’t work out so here we are.
When we realized we were going to be here for at least two months and maybe three while we try to find another house and close escrow, we did a little shopping. For the first time in 15 years my wife and I went out and bought a pair of skis and season passes. Since I haven’t even skied in five years I wasn’t very particular, and really didn’t even know what I was looking for. I ended up with a reasonably nice pair of Fisher Wialea skis. They were new but probably two year models old. For me this is a huge improvement over the 215 Kastle GS skis that I had in college. The early snow this year has already given me several chances to try out my new Fisher skis.

The Shape Of Things To Come?

The Fisher skis that I purchased are a newer “shaped” style ski and they already had Atomic bindings mounted to them. One of the mountain reps for Atomic skis, Jack Rinehart, called and asked me to go skiing with him. I told him I did not have any boots, so he sent my wife and me to Bobo’s Mogul Mouse Ski House in Reno. Steve, the owner of Bobo’s, and his nephew Joe spent a lot of time with me trying to get boots that fit. I’m still perplexed by the fact that ski boots are so difficult to get on and so uncomfortable to wear . I think this has to be the single greatest advantage of snowboarding, comfortable boots. I did learn that had been putting my boots on wrong all of these years and renting boots that were too big in order to adapt.

I’m sure Jack was happy that I ended up leaving with some very expensive Atomic Hawk 110 racing boots. As uncomfortable as they still are, they are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever had. After having my new skis adjusted to my new boots and my wife doing the same, we set up to go skiing with our friend Jack the next morning. Overnight there was 14 inches of snow at the base of the mountain, and 70 inches at the top. Even better, the temperature had dipped down into the negative numbers making the snow very light.

Arriving at Northstar and getting on the gondola with my new skis was very exciting even if I did have to trudge across the entire village and ski boots to get there. When we arrived at mid-mountain, we put our gear on and one of the small chairlift to the groomed run. I have to tell you the first time out on the skis was absolutely incredible. In just 5 min., I knew the skis were going to be the best I’ve ever been on. The Fisher skis that I purchased are outstanding for groomed runs and light powder that isn’t too deep.

You might find it a little funny that I hang out with the Atomic rep when I have Fisher skis. The funny part is I ended up with Atomic boots and bindings. I figure I got two thirds of the equation, and Jack is determined to give me go all Atomic by the end of the year.

The first day of skiing was very much like most of the days that I remember skiing in the past. The only problem that I encountered on the first day out with my new shaped skis was the fact that I gained quite a bit of weight, and skis have become shorter. The simple physics of this equation results in me sinking in any kind of deep powder. After my wife and I separated so she could take a lesson Jack and I went to the top of the mountain. He decided he wanted to do a little tree skiing which sounded like a great idea to me.

Our first run through the trees, I took a little uphill cut that slowed me down just enough to start sinking in. Since we are at the top of the mountain, the powder was very deep and light. It didn’t take long before I came to a complete stop and was Sinking uncontrollably and the snow. As the snow past my knees, the top of a tree began to emerge right between my legs. I leaned back just a little to avoid being impaled and continued to sink. By the time I stopped s Inking, I was more than waste deep in snow with my skis comfortably lodged in the bows of this tree. Jack was laughing so hard he almost fell over himself.
Jack was on a newer set of very wide Atomic skis which were geared more towards powder and less towards groomed runs. My Fisher skis are considered a good all mountain ski, at least that’s what the guy who sold them to me said. He told me the skis were good for people who ski powder 20% of the time groomed runs 70% of the time and 10% other. I probably should’ve asked what other meant. With the exception of the deep powder skiing the Fisher skis are the best skis I have owned or skied on.

Fortunately for me, Jack and I have the exact same boot shell size. This means that we can switch skis at will. After I dug my way out of the powder and Jack quit laughing he agreed on the next run we should switch skis so that I can see with the new wide powder skis are like. When Jack and I switched skis and I took the wider Atomic out into the deep powder, I realized like most sports there is a reason to have two sets of equipment. The wide Atomic powder skis allowed me to glide across the top of the powder almost as if riding a magic carpet. I made an effortless journey through the trees enjoying the fresh air and unspoiled snow and stunning views of Lake Tahoe. When I got back out on the groomed runs towards the bottom of the mountain, the powder skis would shatter just a little bit as they crossed the chunks of ice. Jack was smart enough to stay on the groomed runs all the way to the bottom where he found me grinning ear to hear waiting in the lift line for him.

Crud busters?

Over the next two days a heavier wet snow fell on the mountain. Sitting at the bottom this looked like a good thing for me because the heavy powder would not allow me to sink in as I had done two days before. I was pretty excited about getting to go skiing one more time before having to leave on a three-day trip. When we got to the top of the mountain I learned a new term. As we looked down from the top one of Jack’s other friends said “Crap I should’ve brought my crud busters.” I had no clue what he was talking about.

That morning, I had an article that needed to be posted so I didn’t make it to the mountain until almost 1030, which by Jack’s standards is very late. By then all of the virgin snow on the main runs had been trampled somewhat. The group of us looked down the hill at groomed runs which were covered by 7 to 10 inches of new heavy snow with evidence of all of the skiers who got up earlier in the morning. It turned out to be one of the most difficult days of skiing I have ever had in my life.

The heavy snow made for hard tracks quickly, and my small shaped skis which were designed for easy turns would do exactly that. The ski would catch one of the tracks and make its own turn with or without me. After beating myself up with several face plants and one Tomahawk fall, I asked a simple question. I looked at Jack and said “Are there better skis for this kind of skiing?” All three of the guys on the lift looked at me and simultaneously responded “yeah, crud busters!”, as if I should’ve known.

They proceeded to give me the explanation of crud busters, and how they work. So here I am going up the lift just two days after feeling the pride of owning this great set of shaped skis and I’m realizing that I need not one extra set of skis but two. Jack of course is laughing, because he realizes he is probably going to get the sale for both my next set of powder skis and the crud busters.

Jack is promised to bring a set of crud busters out the next time we get together. I hope the early winter snows hold and we have a long ski season. Come on up and join us, we will probably be at Northstar.

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