Kirkwood Day Trip

I took the Nac Ski bus up to Kirkwood today. I committed myself to it last Monday so as to prevent myself procrastinating it out of the whole season. It turned out really good, despite my best efforts to injure myself. :) My boots were actually really comfortable by the end of the day, despite an uncomfortable start, and no apparent harm done to my toes at all.

When I was at Kirkwood three years ago it was snowing and raining simultaneously, windy as all buggery, and at best I think only two chairs were open – Snowkirk and [on the second day] Solitude. My impression of the place was that it was small and quiet. An impression that was about as far from reality as possible. Though there wasn’t a whole lot of snow (half a foot in places) and it was compacted and icy in patches, it was at least a really warm day (8°C or so, I think it got to). It’s actually a surprisingly large resort – I tried to do every run today, but didn’t come even close. Half, maybe. ‘course, the double blacks pose something of a problem… I was going to do one late in the afternoon to see how I went, but I ran out of time.

The ones I did manage, that I’m fairly certain of, are:

Bud’s Alley
Elevator Shaft
Happiness Is
Herringbone Straight
⬩ High Whiskey
Hole ‘N’ Wall
Home Run (part of, anyway)
Jane’s Jaunt
⬩ Look Out Janek
Lower Monte Wolfe
Lower Zachary
⬩ One or more of {Hully Gully, Cold Shoulder, Larry’s Lip} – they were so iced up I kinda skirted all over them all, I think.
⬩ Rabbit Runs
⬩ Sentinel
Whiskey Slide
⬩ Zachary

I actually did a lot more than that, I know, but I can’t figure out in hindsight which ones exactly, particularly the blacks… e.g. I went up the Reut many times, but can’t be sure which runs off it I did. Most of them, but which ones, aha?

Anyway, I found myself favouring the diamonds primarily, though some of the blues were quite enjoyable by virtue of being easy and relaxing, and well groomed. The only blacks I had trouble with were the ones that were iced up, and I was hardly the only one; most people were sticking only to the freshly groomed trails. As noted, I was trying to do every run at least once, so I did plenty of icy ones, but it’s not so much fun.

A few falls, including one in the queue for a lift, worst of all [for my ego]. But the only real solid fall was the very last run, down Sentinel. The bus parked north of Timber Creek, but I’d worked my way over to Sunrise by the end of the day, and was then racing to get back in time to catch the bus. So anyway, I was doing alright, making good time, and had done Sentinel three or four times already earlier in the day without any issue at all, but, for whatever reason this particular time I lost it. Took a nice gouge to one of my skis in the process, too.

I’d seen a few people sliding on the icier runs, and it was quite impressive – they’d slide down for ten, twenty, forty metres…. no real harm done in all the cases I saw, but, I was thinking “boy, how embarrassing for them”. Ahahaha… stupid universal justice.

I don’t know how far I slid, but I was going quite fast and I had plenty of time to think about it while it was happening, so I’m guessing fifty metres or more. My first focus after falling was to balance out into a skid, rather than tumbling, which I did just fine. But after two or three seconds I realised that I wasn’t slowing down at all. It was a strangely curious and exciting feeling, given Sentinel is quite straight at that point and I knew I wasn’t going to hit anything. So I simply had to slowly spin myself round so I could dig my skis in (more seconds), and even then it took three or four more seconds to actually slow to a stop.

It really is memorable for the fact that I could think through the entire thing. Virtually all my stacks in living memory have been over before you can do anything better than flinch.

So anyway, that was embarrassing, but funny (despite giving me a brief headache from the sudden shock of being covered in ice), but also annoying because it was my last run and I knew I’d have no time to dry out or even change clothes before getting on the bus. Luckily I managed to stay relatively dry, and it seems that my cheap “thermals” are in fact pretty water proof, regardless of their thermal qualities. So yay for those.

And I didn’t break my camera, iPhone or wallet, which was lucky and fortunate.

Having to get up at 3:30am in order to catch the bus sucked, and the ride up was rather mediocre as the seat-backs were too short to provide any head support at all, so I couldn’t realistically sleep. Standard early-morning nausea combined with 100 miles of alpine roads saw me extremely happy when we arrived and I could get off the damn thing. :)

Going back wasn’t so bad… they played Austin Powers 2, which passed half the time, and the rest I listened to music and possibly napped.

As it turns out tickets & rentals at Kirkwood are half price through to next Friday, so what would normally be a good deal [via Nac Ski] in fact wasn’t. D’oh. Ah well. I probably should have picked a mountain and gotten a season pass, but, I do so enjoy exploring new terrain.

Photos are up, also.

Tomorrow alas I will be doing washing and working, yay, but next weekend it looks like Nils [+1] and Steve want to head up for both days, so that’ll be good. Then two weeks after that I’ll be standing atop Whistler!

Ooh, also, Kirkwood has actual restaurants. With cutlery and porcelain and tableclothes and waitresses. I was truly – and very pleasantly – surprised. I had a really nice pasta main, and possibly the best hot chocolate I I’ve had here in California (they can’t make hot chocolate worth a damn, for the most part :`( ). I’d definitely be interested in going back there again – again, a complete reversal to my previous attitude. I only went with Kirkwood today, over Heavenly, because it was cheaper [and I did Heavenly two weeks ago]. Haha. :)

I might look into second hand or ex-demo skis in the next few weeks… renting them up at Tahoe is just way too expensive, and avoiding that via roof racks doesn’t negate the cost in any reasonable time.

Oh, and minimal tree skiing – basically only when I had to. It was just too icy to do safely for the most part, and the minimal snow cover wasn’t encouraging either.

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