Since coming back home from England, I have just been training training training! Good for me because I'm feeling strong and fit, but bad for you because its even more boring for you to read about it, than it is for me to write about it, than it is to actually do it! So today I thought I would write a little about the other little adventurous journey I have been taking - that of becoming a better free-skier :)
I began skiing a few years ago after being what I would call a competent snowboarder (by that i mean I could ride almost anywhere in a resort, onpiste and off, but nothing to gnarly or fancy). After one of the worst mornings of my life, where skiing just felt wrong, something clicked and I have never looked back. To me skiing feels more natural, I can go faster, with more control, and use them to actually get to places. I have been pretty much only skiing since first trying it out and thanks to a lot of help from a lot of good friends (who all happen to be amazing skiers) improved pretty fast to a level that surpassed my snowboarding by quite along way.
This year has been a particularly good one for my skiing (although it would have been a hell of a lot better if we actually had some snow!) mainly from being able to go out any day I choose. I can now enjoy seeing cool looking lines, knowing that I can ride them, which is where I always wanted to be. The only issues with this, is just like in biking, progressing usually involves going bigger, further and faster, which is all good until something goes wrong, and then the consequences can often not bear thinking about. I find myself in almost constant discussions with the two little friends on my shoulder - one saying throw caution to the wind and the other telling me to check myself...
Injuring myself in a non climbing sport would be really irresponsible of me, and I like to think I have a good hold on things, that I know my abilities and don't push myself too hard, but you never really know what life is going to throw at you! Perhaps tomorrow you'll get hit by a bus?
So today I went Skiing to a local mountain called Axamer Lizum, which is where they twice held the winter Olympic games (1964 and 76 I think)! I met up with Keith, Emi and Jack as I was sleeping when they left this morning. The day was perfect! Blue skies and sunshine, and very cold so the snow wouldn’t get slushy (although it also makes my fingers and toes numb!)
It hadn’t snowed for a few days, so most of the powder was already tracked out but if you were prepared to hike a little to the more difficult to reach areas you could still ride fresh snow. We made a few cool runs, and jumped of a few small cliffs which all went well, and then moved our sights onto bigger fish towards the end of the day!
After making the long traverse and short hike to the top, I was pretty nervous and thought briefly about backing out. As always, the cliff looked so much bigger from the top than it had from below, and to make matters worse, you couldn't even see where to land – all you see is the lip, and then sky! I found my moment of confidence, took advantage of it and pointed my skis towards the edge.
I left the earth watching the ground fall away beneath me, shocked at how far away it had suddenly become, but before I knew it I was back in contact with the snow and riding away with a big grin on my face. When I looked back up at the cliff I was happy, but couldn’t help feel like I hadn’t taken the true BIG line, more of a “chicken run” variation ;) so decided that one more run was in order before I could go home truly happy.
The traverse and the hike were repeated and I found myself back at the run in to the cliff, feeling just the same emotions as the first time. I looked at where I knew the correct exit point to be, and also briefly looked at other “lesser” possibilities before scolding myself for looking for an easy way out. If this was really going to be my last line of the day, I wanted it to be the biggest and best it could be, so I could look up in pride from below, for sticking it or at the very least having a go.
The confidence came, I let my skis go, and rode off the lip. As my tips became airborne, I got my first glimpse of the drop and the snow below and without warning a girly scream found its way out of my mouth ;) It was way higher than expected, but I was in for the ride and had no option but to see it through. My skis found the snow, which by this point in the day was quite heavy and wet. I rode away and a smile began across my face, but it was too soon! Leaning too far forward, my tips were pulled under the heavy snow and the dream was dead. A few forward rolls and a brush down later I was back on the piste, finding myself surprisingly happy considering I had ultimately failed.
I guess “failure” ultimately depends on your perspective towards certain things, and just like life, is not normally black or white.