Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I shot a man in Reno
Just to watch him die

I have been a snowboarding fool of late.

It snowed hard on Saturday and then dropped another 6 - 10 inches in and around Bozeman last night. It was really hard not to play hooky today.

On Sunday, I got "cliffed out" on the North Summit Snowfield. What does that mean, you say?

Well, let's back up a bit. To ski the North Summit, you have to check in with patrol and sign up to ski it. They allow groups down every 15 minutes. You must have a partner; you must have a working avalanche beacon; you must have a shovel; you must have an avalanche probe. Helmets are strongly encouraged.

All of the above restrictions are because the North Summit Snowfield is very steep, and avalanche prone. So steep, in fact, that in parts, the mountain "rolls over" and you cannot see what is below you.

Like cliffs, for example.

I was with my friend, Bill, who actually patrolled at Big Sky for 8 years. He's got the sweet hookup like Pedro's bike, except free lift tickets and beers in the patrol shack at the end of the day.

The snow was so good, and so freaking deep that we stayed in this chute a little too long. We needed to cut left, and missed it by 50 yards. We were having too much fun ripping down in a small self-created slide. (Not a dangerous one... just about a foot or so of snow, sliding down around us at roughly the same speed we were moving.)

Annnnnnd, cliff.

We stopped in time. I spent the next 20 minutes trying not to shit my pants as I clung to the side of the mountain, on my snowboard, inching across a steep rock band and praying to sweet baby jesus, his mother, full-grown jesus, bearded on stage at a Skynrd concert. All the jesuses, really.

And that, friends, is "getting cliffed out."

Labels: , , , , ,