Posts Tagged ‘Kirkwood’

post-season wrapup

Posted: April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized
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So the ski season is over.

I know. I am ensaddened.

One of the strangest things about this season has been the lack of snow. I mean, if you remember that post I made in January, it had a picture in a parking lot at Kirkwood where there was no snow.



In any case, the snow wasn’t great this season. Yesterday, it was a bit like skiing on Slurpees. It wasn’t even flavored Slurpee, either: it was just plain.

My goal for the season was to get good at skiing again– good enough to go on black diamond runs. Well, I didn’t make my goal. I know, I know: slightly disappointing. But hey– I had fun sliding down the hill, both on my feet and my ass, and so I qualify that as a success.

Am I going to keep skiing next year? Hell yes.

But all good things must end eventually, and since it’s almost May, then I guess that I will have to bid the ski season of 2011/2012 farewell.

Depressedly yours,

~ Ian


This is something I was thinking about while I was coming down Lift 4 on Kirkwood’s backside today. I’m really tired after a long-ass day, so please be aware that the following post may not be rational, or coherent, or sane.

You have been warned.

For almost two decades– from the mid-80s to the early oughties– there was a massive, intense rivalry between skiers and snowboarders. It was huge and all-encompassing. Snowboarders saw skiers as elitist, overly-wealthy snobs. Skiers saw snowboarders as fat-headed snot-nosed punks. Both groups went out of their respective ways to harass, insult, mock, and just generally be dicks to the other group.

I came in on the tail edge of this era. Growing up as a skier in the late 90s/early oughties, I got shit from snowboarding teenage assholes for being small, and a skier. It didn’t really go to my head at all– really, I got worse crap from my schoolmates at Westlake Elementary (may their names be forever cursed)– but I don’t doubt that, had I been a snowboarder, I would have gotten the same steaming pile of insults from skiers.

But then, something changed in the mid-oughties. The skier-snowboarder rivalry completely disappeared. It vanished, gone off to the land of wind and ghosts where remaindered books and lost internet memes go.

What happened? Did skiers, realizing that the world had changed, decide to let bygones be bygones and coexist with the snowboarders who now dominated the ski resort scene? Did the former-teen snowboarders, once they reached their thirties, suddenly wake up to find two heaping scoops of maturity in their Raisin Bran?

I don’t think that’s the case. I think that the skiers and snowboarders both realized that, despite certain superficial differences of technique and equipment, their sports were basically the same. The object of skiing and snowboarding is the same: to slide down the hill until you run out of hill, then go back up the hill and repeat until you get sleepy. Yeah, sure, there are differences between the sports. Skis are a lot faster and more stable; snowboards can make sharper turns and are easier to jump with. But these differences don’t matter. We both like to have fun, and we go about having fun in much the same fashion. The number of planks we affix to our feet doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that we like to slide down snowy mountains, and the sliding is a lot more fun when we don’t act like assholes to each other.

Blech. That was horrible. I really need to stop making thinkings now…

Relax now. Blog later.

~ Ian

So I’m back from Kirkwood, and these are the things that happened…

  • My brother broke his face. Seriously: he ran into a tree in the backcountry and broke three bones in his face, including the zygomatic arch. In all honesty, I’m glad he’s alive– if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, there’s a high chance that he might have died.
  • I got to look at a CAT scan of the inside of my brother’s face. Calum, my dad, and Gabby went into Tahoe to have Calum’s face scanned, and we got a CD with his scan back. I got to look inside Calum’s eyeballs. It was awesome.
  • I played Dragon Age: Origins, which was great, since I got it for Christmas and haven’t got a chance to play it yet. My reaction? It’s AWESOME, and it’s one of the few games that I’ve played where I want to skip the boring combat scenes so I can get to the interesting parts where people are talking. That’s a good thing.
  • I watched Super 8, and invented a drinking game: whenever there is a lens flare, take a shot. (Of course, playing this game would be problematic, because you’d be plastered by the end of the first act.)
  • I skied. But that’s not a surprise.
  • On the way back from Kirkwood, we stopped at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Dublin (California, not Ireland). Which was good, because their burgers are great.

Anyway, I’m back in Santa Cruz now. Business-as-normal can resume.

~ Ian

out in the cold

Posted: February 4, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Because I am an idiot, I forgot to bring my camera up to Kirkwood with me.

But trust me when I say that Kirkwood is a place transformed. There’s snow everywhere– not deep, by Kirkwood standards, only up to an average-sized person’s waist, but even so it’s so different from Winter Break. The mountains are covered in powder– the exact same mountains that were brown and exposed when I posted pictures of my ski trip last month. Nearly everything is open, and while I’d like it if there was a lot more snow, it’s not too crowded and the skies are bluebird clear.

Nearly everything was open (except for Lifts 14 and 15, which are kind of the weird, runty newborns of the Kirkwood litter). I spent most of my time today on Lift 2, with a couple of trips over the backside to 3. Hopefully by the end of this season, I’ll be good enough to do the stuff that I used to be able to do– namely, black diamond bowls at the top of the mountain.

Right now I’m relaxing by the fire, enjoying an evening of reading and blogging. Maybe I’ll watch a movie later. Who knows?

Saturdays are awesome.

~ Ian

Not dead yet.

Quite the opposite, actually. I’m in Kirkwood.

For a brief moment, life is awesome.

~ Ian

My Ski Trip

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I’m back at college in Santa Cruz now, and I have to say: the air is friggin’ thick down here. How can all of you lowlanders stand it?

I have a lot of pictures to show you guys. First of all, though, I’d like to point out: Tahoe had an epic winter last year. The winter of 2010/11 will go down in history as one of the best ski winters in recorded history. It dumped powder nearly all winter, and Kirkwood (where I usually ski) still had snow in JULY.

This winter? Well, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

This is the view outside our cabin on the 28th of December. As you can see, there is almost no snow.

Oh, and it’s not like we’re in the Sierra foothills here. This picture was taken at nearly EIGHT THOUSAND FEET.

Seriously. I’d file a complaint with the people who control the weather, but Google won’t give me their number. So we’re stuck… at least, until the Snowmakers’ Union strike is over.

Moving on…

This is the view from the top of Lift 5, Kirkwood’s main intermediate lift. Over on the right, you can see the camera strap blowing into frame. That is because there were 40 mile an hour winds when this picture was taken.

On the left side, you can see part of a person in a guacamole-colored jacket. This is my dad.

Like I mentioned: there should be snow BURYING the mountain this time of year. Sigh…

At one point, we drove into Meyers to get groceries, and I took pictures.

A lot.

Of pictures.

Jannek, my German brother, down by Caples Lake, taking pictures as well. Sigh… at least the lake is frozen.


Who are these strange people? A new breed of suburban gangster from the streets of LA? Dread cultists, the face of their demon god emblazoned on their chests?

No. It’s just my brother Calum and his girlfriend Gabby, modeling their new matching Elmo pajamas and beanies.

I didn’t know they made Elmo pajamas in adult sizes. And I love Calum’s expression here. He looks so embarrassed.

At one point, Jannek went to the pool. When he returned, he found that his wet bathing suit, once as pliable as any other, had frozen into a rigid, folded configuration.

At least it was below freezing that night.

Wait. Did I say that it didn’t snow at all on this trip? Actually, it did. A little bit. Just a sprinkling, though.


Regretfully yours,

~ Ian

Learning to Fly

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I like skiing. A lot, actually.

There’s a simplicity to skiing that I really and truly enjoy. The whole point of the sport is to slide down the hill until you run out of hill. It sounds simple enough when you put it like that, of course, but in reality it’s far more complex. Since I haven’t skied for… five years before this season, I’m basically limited to groomed runs, more specifically the kind where you have to avoid small children sitting in the middle of the run and crying. But when I get better…

I’m already fantasizing about what I’m going to be like when I get better. My mind is filled with images of open bowls filled with deep powder; steep, rock-walled chutes where you can do nothing but go inexorably forward lest you be crushed against the sides; wide backcountry peaks, where I can weave in and out of trees as I fly down the mountain; cornices that drop down onto long mogul-filled ridgelines… It’s incredible.

Because that’s the thing about skiing. To the non-skier, everything looks pretty much the same. Yeah, there are runs that are steeper than others, but when you look at the mountain from below, everything looks similar. But to ski on powder takes a completely different skill set than skiing on ice, which is again totally different from mogul skiing.

Today I went on my first intermediate run in years. It was hard– a lot faster and steeper than the run I’d been practicing on since Christmas, with ice patches and sudden steep parts that kept me on my toes. But it was fun– the most fun skiing that I’d had in a long time. I didn’t do that great, but at least I had enough practice that I didn’t power-wedge my whole way down. I got a good head of speed, and at the point where the run merged with the bunny slopes, I was flying– and the wind blew in my face, and I braked to a stop at the base of the mountain, skidding thirty feet and kicking up whatever meager powder was left there. It was an adrenaline rush– and I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. My body practically pulsed as I got on the chairlift to head back up.

I have a long way to go before I’m as good as I was. But even so, I feel like I can make it back onto the black diamond runs by the end of the season. And after that… who knows?

I’ll show my readers (all five of you guys!) some pictures from this trip after it’s done. I’m heading back to Santa Cruz on Sunday, and then it’s going to be all linguistics and dining hall food again. But right now, I’m on top of the world, and it’s incredible.

~ Ian