First backcountry turns

I think we all remember them, our first backcountry turns. Usually the legs are completely tired, burning with lactose as you finally crest the top. Then a few minutes later your nonchalant guide tells you its time to ski down. Apprehensive yet excited you attempt a few turns and realise that even though the powder is the best you have ever experienced its is going to be a bit of survival skiing. Managing to link up a few turns they become the best turns of your life and somehow you forget all the pain and drudgery and focus on those few great turns.

Today I went out early and lapped the fingers a few times and then skied down to meet Craig. Craig is from England here on a two week social visit with his girlfriend, Lisa. So today was Craig’s first backcountry turns, and I am unsure whether he liked it or not. He developed two huge blisters and had a few great bails, but I hope he enjoyed some moments of the day.

Valentines day, we finished off the skiing with a hot spring and dinner with our respective partners at Halcyon hot springs. Perfect day.

Day 42 10250 feet

  1. the hill house February 15, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    While Tracey drove me to the car park at the foot of the Fingers to link up with Greg, I had plent of time to ponder what was in store for me during my first backcountry outing…. Apprehension, worry, but most of all excitement!!
    Greg met me at 11:30 in the car park. He’d already completed a couple laps of the Fingers and I was about to find out what that entailed and how ridiculously fit (and maybe just a little bit crazy) you have to be to do what Greg does for a living.
    We set off through the cross country trail and were soon heading into the backcountry, through trees and up steep inclines (well at least I thought they were steep until I got a few hundred feet further up the hill!!). After about 500 feet we stopped for a break and for one brief moment I thought to myself "What the hell are you doing here in the middle of nowhere trying to ski UP a mountain? Are you completely nuts!!" Then I looked around and saw where I was… In possibly the most beautiful part of the world, with views to die for (and believe me by the top of the climb I thought I may just do that!) and the thought that I wasn’t going to get another chance to experience such an adventure for a long time! So, I finished my break and then just kept on pounding away, ascending further and further up the hill, stopping for a quick snack, some water, and to catch my breath. I’m sure you’re not supposed to hear your heartbeat going at about 160 a minute in your ears are you??
    Eventually I reached my goal (Gregs Rucksack) positioned just above some trees. Never before have I been so happy to see a rucksack :O)
    Greg had left me a few minutes before so that he could complete his goal for the day of climbing 10000 feet (I knew now what I had always suspected… that Greg Hill is certainly a little bit insane. Ridiculously fit, but definitely a bit mad!!)
    5 minutes later Greg skied down to where I was taking a well earned rest and helped me to transform my skies into downhill mode. Soon I was looking down the hill at the clean powder that was enticing me out into the open, and I was ready to start my descent. I now knew that all that pain and effort was completely worth it!!
    After a quick pep talk and some instructions from Greg we were off!! Gregg skied on a little so he could get some pics to mark my first backcountry experience… and missed my first huge bail of the day!!! Oh the joys of skiing in 3 foot powder… a beautifully soft landing but trying to find my discarded ski was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Eventually, after about 10 minutes and Greg walking back up the hill, and having used every friggin swear word in my vocabulary, I managed to find my ski and with a little help from Greg managed to re-attach it to my stupid foot :O)
    I was once again ready for the off and Greg had now made sure that my ski wasn’t about to come off in a hurry (I think this may have been to save the sanity of both of us!)
    Greg went on and waited for me to set off so that he could take some snaps of me carving my very first turns in fresh powder. I think I may have managed a few turns before another huge bail??
    Eventually, we reached the tree’s near the base of the fingers and I knew that my next huge adventure was about the begin. I skied very slowly through the trees trying hard not to run straight into any of them. I managed it with a few good bails and we soon emerged back onto the cross country track at the base of the hill. We arrived back at the car at about 3:30 after skiing the last 10 minutes along the cross country trail.
    I was now wearing various tree parts as accessories to my clothing, I was completely shattered, my legs and arms were burning like never before, I was wet, cold, and hungry but none of these things could take anything away from the personal satisfaction and complete feeling of achievement that I will never forget.
    Thanks Greg for a totally unforgetable day, a day that I would recommend anyone with the slightest spirit of adventure definitely try to experience at least once in their lifetime. I know i’ll be going out again (once my blisters are fixed) :O) Craig

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