Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August Skiing

The beauty of Boulder's unique location near numerous great ski mountains just over the Continental Divide means that Keystone usually open in October and A-Basin is slush-covered (and open to skiers) often till the 4th of July.

But this has left August and September ski-less in my personal history. That is, until a couple of weekends ago, when August fell to the sound of my carving turns.

On the last day of July, 8 of us drove the 5+ hours out to and then up the Great Alpine Road, ending at the hamlet of Dinner Plain, a small resort community about 14 K from Mt. Hotham.

Early Friday morning, 7 of us took off for the mountain, leaving Adi to enjoy the flat screen and tend to the fire.

The first shock was of the sticker variety...after spending $350 last season for a season pass for 5 mountains, I spent $237 (AU) for 2 days of ski hire and lift tickets. OUCH. No wonder Adi stayed home!

Given the cost, I was ready to hit the slopes. One of the beauties, as my Colorado friends can attest, of having a season pass, is the luxury of being a fair weather skier. Last winter, for example, Kim and I bailed on a day of skiing after 3 runs because the light was too flat. Thus, I haven't put up with white out, blizzarding conditions for well over a decade. Until last weekend.

The conditions at Mt. Hotham, to put it mildly, were atrocious. Visibility was literally zero...i couldn't see my friend Mel when she was just over an arm's length away. We got soaked ont he chairlift from the wet, slushy snow and when we got off, it was tough to determine where the edge of the cliffs were. The snow felt pretty good beneath my feet, albeit a bit heavy and wet, but who knows if that was true. It was the kind of day you could enjoy if you already love to ski; harder, I think, to learn to love to do so.

While Mel and Mark and I navigated the mountain- skiing a variety of different runs- I think- Jeni, Hanna and Alon took a beginner class and Kopel braved his way on a board. I finally figured out on the map where the treed runs were so I led Mark and Mel over there so we could at least have a boundary to break up the whiteness.

It was a fun day and while I didn't ski anything super difficult, not seeing it...on an unfamiliar mountain no less, was tiring. We reconvened with our beginner friends and sat in the lodge to dry out a bit before catching our bus back to our gorgeous house in Dinner Plain.

Adi had made us cookies and they were warm from the oven when we walked in and we devoured them. Meanwhile I set to work re-heating the 2 huge lasagnas I'd made which took longer than expected so all were excited when they were finally warm. At dinner, Hanna and Jeni announced their plans to hit the spa rather than the slopes the next day and our group of die hards was down to five. Well, that's what we thought- Alon had fallen asleep at the table so it was difficult to ascertain his plans for the next day.

Sure enough, Sunday morning the 5 die hards woke (admittedly a bit too leisurely for my taste...) and headed back to the hill. The weather in DP was perfect looking- blue sky and sunny, but alas, such was not the case just a bit higher up. We spent another day struggling with visibility but I had studied the map the previous night (turning into my father I fear) and knew where to go to find trees. We had a great day going all over the mountain and Adi even met up with us for lunch.

It wasn't the greatest skiing I've ever done; aside form visibility, the snow was definitely wetter than Colorado's. I didn't have all my proper equipment (you'll see my looking like a tourist in my puffy jacket) and the lifts were a bit slow. I also didn't love the layout of the resort, which is apprantly more bare bones than some of the higher end resorts here (more A-Basin than Vail). But the mountain goes over the Great Alpine Road so on occasion we had to pop out of our skis to cross the highway.

Nevertheless, it was a great weekend. It was fun to see snow and even more fun to watch my friends who have spent little time in the snow seeing the beauty it offers. My favorite thing was the gum trees....in lieu of evergreens, these trees look like regular deciduous trees, but they dont lose their leaves, resulting in heavy, snow covered branches bending towards the ground as they groan with the weight fo the snow. But they dont break and the leaves don't come off. These were the trees we skied through and it was a funny sight to see, after being used to more Christmas tree looking things in North America.

It was a great gorup as well. we had fun doing everything from daring Alon to lie in the snow in his bathers (that's short for swimming costume!) to eating a few great meals. We had a bit of excitements when Kopel had to have petrol delivered since he'd made it up the mountain on fumes and even more of a climactic end the next morning when he realised he'd left his door open and thus had a dead battery. It was nice to get out of the city and be in a really posh house with no wireless. And it was fun to enjoy the upstairs double shower with a view of the trees.

I'd do it again and perhaps we will next year...though maybe then we can go in September to clear my calendar of months with no skiing.

Finally, I need to revise my last blog- Australia was united in 1901, not after World War I..but still, the country is in diapers!

Now, enjoy so ski trip photos...

Waiting for the bus the first morning...that's
Hanna, Jeni, Mark, Me and Daniel
The view from our deck of the funny snowgum trees

The girls (Hanna, Jeni, Me and Mel) are sleepy
But not as sleepy as Alon (we haven't had dessert yet!)

Day 2- at the bus stop, this time with equipment

Some of the boys in the tub

Alon takes a dare (for $$ of course)

After another yummy dinner

Jumping Daniel's car
A good weekend had by all

1 comment:

Maria & Jeremy said...

Hey sounds like you guys had fun! Snow seems worlds (or at least 30 something degrees south)away!