Sunday, January 29, 2012

Skiing on a Trampoline... off of a Cat... In B.C... my life is charmed, I'm pretty sure...

At the very end of my trip, I got to go cat skiing with Powder Mountain. And one of the best parts was... I got to take a friend! We were close to going in the helicopter... but the reason I had extended the trip was because of this huge storm that was coming in. The temperature plummeted and the snow started piling up, 20-40cm a night for several nights in a row. 

Gettin' my bounce on in Squamish. (photo by Powder Mountain. Gear by Strafe, POC, Leki)
Because of the cold temps, the snow was epicly light and very very deep. Since my friend Blayne lives there and has his own truck, we opted out of the shuttle that leaves right from the Gone Bakery in Whistler Village. My big fat powder skis hadn't come yet, so I demoed a pair of Rossignol Super 7s just to see what other companies are doing in ski design. I had heard a lot about these skis, so I was eager to try them out.
Loading the cats for a day of happiness...

I was pretty psyched to give the Strafe gear a test in the deep snow, as well. Cat skiing seemed like an interesting task for the clothing, could it breathe while I sweated like crazy, but keep me warm, keep the moisture off my skin? As expected, it out performed any outerwear I've been in so far. Beauty. The cut and fit are awesome, I could move really well in it, and I didn't get wet (minus some powder flowing down the neck of the coat, but that was only because of the AWESOME FACE SHOTS, so you know, I really can't complain...)

Whistler/Blackcomb in the distance, deep powder and steep lines straight ahead!
We headed to Powder Mountain, about 20 minutes down the road from Whistler, listening to music and chatting. I was super excited to get out free skiing in virgin, untracked steep snow.

The Powder guys were amazing, super friendly and professional, and of course, Blayne knew everyone there. (He's a bartender at Dusty's on the Creekside side of Whistler Mountain. Go say hi if you are in the area! Chances are, he'll remember your name the next time.)
BT getting ready to play!

One of the guides looked at me and said, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" I couldn't imagine where that might be, but then he nailed it. "You were coming out Singing Pass the other day with your friend! We crossed the creek together!" Awesome!

The goods. At speed. Bliss! (photo by Powder Mountain, gear by Strafe, POC, Leki)
We loaded up into the cats and headed out into... another weather hole! It was amazing!  We ended up having a bluebird pow day in the middle of some nasty weather all around us. The experience on the cat was outstanding, $499 for a full day, unlimited runs, with excellent guiding and terrain selection.

Jeff ski cutting before the drop
We did a practice beacon search first, which was really great, I haven't had a group do that yet. Then, off we went, a short section to make sure the group was cohesive and then we split from the other cat. Our group was skiing quite strong, and so we ventured into some steeps and some features, mini couloirs and some drops and jumps. The snow was so deep and stompy, and the skis, quite honestly, were amazing powder tools. We were giddy with excitement and ready to play!

looking out the cat window
I experienced feelings that I've never felt in my body before, the wonderful wonderful feeling of flying down the mountain, no resistance, speed not being an issue, just flying, floating, staying in the turn just because it was too fun to leave! I heard a sound I've never heard before, too, the rrrrraaaaatttt! of the snow tearing as I came through it.

BT shredding
We probably got 10 runs or more, skiing through tight trees, down some narrow squeezed out trees and then blam! out into a big open meadow where you could just let them rip. BT had this huge smile on his face all day, and he's quite inspirational to ski with. He's pretty quiet, but I could tell he was blissing out by the ridiculous permagrin.

It turns out that one of the guys on the cat was room mates in New Zealand with a friend of mine from Bridger Bowl in Montana, who now works in Aspen. The kid turned around in the seat and asked, "Hey, you're from Aspen, do you know Neil Lande?" Why yes, I do! Neil and I took a road trip to Aspen a couple of years before either of us moved here, and the experience was amazing for both of us. Neil now tunes for the Adaptive World Cup team, pretty impressive. But then again, he's a pretty impressive person.

After a full day playing in the pow, we headed back into the lodge, where our photographer was waiting for us with some excellent Powder Mountain label suds and a dvd of our adventure already cued up and playing.
Tasty Brews waiting at the bottom...

All in all, it was one of my most fun days of skiing ever, and to get to share it with Blayne, to get to watch him just open it up and rip around, play and bounce, to laugh in the cat, and make friends from all over, to see Neil's friend and be connected back to Bridger and to Aspen, to see the kid's MOM skiing in the deep pow, so proud of her son... it was another day that reminded me what I love about the ski community. We are all in search of bliss. And we all have a friend in common. The snow!

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