Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We DID it! We skied the Great One!

Finally! It happened! I've been wanting and wanting to ski this line, and today... we DID IT! Look at the range in the back of the picture, its the long white line on the left. Angela and I hiked in in our shorts today;

(lesson #1 today: tie your long sleeve shirt around your skis so when its time to boot up something steep, you can just throw your shirt on rather than having to take your pack off.)

and left our tennies at the snow line, and booted across the snow field, to the bottom of the Great One, where I practiced my self-arrest technique with Angela's ice axe she'd loaned me for the day. (Lessons 2-5 how to load your ice axe on your pack, walk with it in your uphill hand, belay off it, and self arrest on both sides with it.)

Then we booted up fairly firm snow to the middle pinch, hiked across the talus field, and then I kicked in the steps for the second half, up the steep top pitch of the couloir. (Lesson 6: don't move your feet if your ice axe is moving. Don't move your ice axe if your feet are moving.) It was really fun to boot up something so steep, and I was psyched to be breaking trail. I needed to pace myself a bit slower, I was slowing down at the top, but I felt SO much better than the last bootpack I did!

The interval training, week of rest, and steep hiking has helped! We had a nice lunch at the top with a couple of guys that came up the long way "Wow, are you guys in training, or something?" was the question as we climbed out of the couloir and onto the top.

The boys took off, and we followed a bit after, Angela let me ski it first, which was pretty fun, the snow was firm, and not rocky, I didn't feel like I needed to do any survival skiing, I could actually kind of get after it in there, and THAT was an awesome feeling!

At the bottom, we took our skis off to hike across the talus, and, of course, as I'm standing there looking at them, I think, "I should either turn those over or pick them up." and off they go. Bouncing down the rocks. That was a nice little extra detour. Angela was just totally laughing, until her laugh started HER skis down, but she caught them.

We skied the second pitch with a bit more verve, the snow was still fantastic, and we tipped em over a bit more on this pitch. We were going to give the line across the basin a go, we watched a snowboarder come down it and it looked super fun, but it was getting late, and TODAY is my little sister's birthday, so we did a mini hike up the bowl and skied down to our shoes.

YES, I must admit, there is INDEED a Kate Faceplant in this story, really, what back country adventure would BE complete without me landing on my face? ONCE AGAIN, when it was very nearly flat, my ski hung up on something, got pulled behind me, and I was very suddenly on my face. So much so that my nose was jammed full of snow. And, of course, rather than blowing it out, I snorted it in. Immediate result: brain freeze of doom. Angela was looking at me like I'd grown horns. "What happened?" Who knows? Too sporty on a low angle with rocks and twigs sticking out of it. AGAIN. Maybe I'll learn that lesson one day.

ANNNNYHOOO, not important. The climbing was awesome. (I had a perfect moment climbing UP! That's happening more and more on the climbing part, which is exciting, because it used to just be painful, like PLEASE GOD let the ridge be CLOSER, my lungs are DYING!) The skiing was awesome. There is still a ton of snow up there.

The hike out was serene, and a bit damp (we had a little tropical storm to cool us off as we headed for the car.) There are so many great lines to explore up there, and the snow is just right! Thanks for another super fun day, Angela! See you in September!

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