|How I got started skiing year-round: During the summer of 1991, I hiked to Camp Muir more times than I care to admit, attempting to get into some sort of shape for my first Rainier summit climb. Each weekend, while walking down from Muir, post holing and hyper-extending my knees, I would watch the skiers descending gracefully from Muir to Paradise (like, duh: what's wrong with this picture?). After that first climb I finally got smart enough to start accumulating some backcountry ski gear. I would go out and fall a lot, any time I could find someone to go with. Jeanette started hiking with our group that year while we were all still hiking and climbing a lot. Later many of us kind of gravitated to skiing with only a modicum of begging and whining on my part. A reliable partner for outdoor pursuits is a rarity and Jeanette turned out to be that rare gem that always showed when she said she would. In addition, she showed up with dogged regularity. With a reliable ski buddy a ski streak just kind of happens without much effort at all.|
Criteria for what counts as a ski trip: I especially like to count the trips where you show up at the trailhead when it's pouring down rain so you sit in the car and drink up all the apres' ski beer. Just kidding :) I count it if it's skiing -- any kind of skiing. It's a ski streak, right? I probably still have the same streak even if I only counted backcountry skiing, because even in the winter I ski the backcountry on the weekends and try to get in my lift skiing, when I can, during the week. That way I avoid the weekend crowds at the lifts. When we first started skiing the backcountry you hardly ever saw another skier, even on the weekends. Now, there's lots more skiers and riders in the backcountry. In fact, no one even goes into the backcountry anymore because it's so crowded. [Borrowed that one from Yogi :) ]
Biggest threat to my streak: Biggest threat? AGE. The older I get the taller the mountains get and the more the youngsters climb like healthy squirrels and homesick angels. I hate that.
Type of equipment I use: Rando. At my age it would be an extremely irresponsible use of time to try to learn tele (even if it does look really cool) -- not to mention, it would be somewhat masochistic to subject my ancient knees to that kind of self-mutilation. Besides, I have a hard enough time keeping the slippery side down skiing AT gear.
Strategy for skiing through the low season: Stay Low... No. I mean high. Stay high (the "low season" part confused me). In the fall the carries can get to be 2, 3 hours, and more, to get up to snow suitable for decent turns. That's not good for old people. That's the main reason we limit ourselves to just one ski trip per month just before the new snow falls. Other weekends we do "ski terrain recon hikes" instead. Believe it or not, sometimes it's quite handy to know what's under that snow. It's also a good opportunity to mark special locations with gps waypoints to make it easier to later find those special chutes, slopes and stashes that you intend to ravage when covered with powpow. Secret Stashes are handy this time of year as well. Although this particular year (2001), with the lower snowfall, some of the "secret stashes" are so secret they disappeared. Last resort: yoyo skiing: find a patch and have your way with it :) Then pray for snow a lot.
Worst and best backcountry ski trips: Worst: the "other" G Spot ... Glacier Peak. Carried my skis and a humongous pack for 3 days without getting even one turn. Got turned back by a monsoon before Boulder Basin. Bivyed in the storm and walked out the third day in the same weather. I spent the entire trip thinking "I could have been skinning right from the car at Chinook Pass this weekend". I lost some additional brain cells on that one, further contributing to my rapidly approaching senility.
Best: Hit Adams one year when about 8 - 10 inches of disoriented Utah pow managed to lose its way and end up on the summit of Adams over a bombproof base. The new snow followed rain in an occluded front (first warm, then cold) so it was really bonded well to the ice below. So well, in fact, that we skinned all the way up the south climb false summit pitch and on to the summit without ever loading up. On the descent the snow skied as smooth as a gallon of Wesson Oil on a billiard table.