Day 65: Equipment failure, or brain failure? You decide.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post
, we were pretty hemmed in to limited terrain on Friday. Here's one good example of why:
We had more room to roam today with the Sugarloaf gate open, but Backside and the High T remained closed. Ballroom, but not Baldy Shoulder opened mid-morning, the former via a lower than normal gate thanks to debris from an avalanche deep into the old snow layer with a 6 to 8-foot crown halfway down the Rotor Chutes. Around mid-day the Saddle Traverse opened, accessing the lower half of West Rustler. After barely hanging onto the frozen base on the Saddle Traverse on my last run, and seeing nothing but windswept ice above I can completely understand why the T stayed closed. Anyone who slipped off it would've been in for a slide for life.
With all of the Sugarloaf area now accessible, however, we had a whole new round of smooth freshies to enjoy in the sunshine today and everything stayed dry and winter-like -- with morning temperatures in the mid-teens and highs in the low 30's no spring softening of Friday's 7" of new snow took place today.
Around noon Bobby Danger, Skidog, AmyZ, mbaydala and I decided to head for Devil's Castle, and with Sugarloaf already closed for the season that meant booting or skinning up from the top of Collins. As far as Sugarloaf the trip was uneventful. I figured that I'd keep the skins on until I reached the top of the usual sidestep up from Sugarloaf. I braced myself against a tree, took off my skis, stripped and stowed my skins and went to put my skis back on.
No go. Try as I might, I couldn't get the pins on the downhill Dynafit toe piece to stay engaged. I checked the bottom of my boot: nope, clean. Ditto for the tech fittings on the boots. I kept trying. Eventually it seemed like it engaged. I wasn't entirely convinced, but the gang was up ahead and I'd already been monkeying with it for a good five minutes. I stepped up onto some unusually hard snow that I had ten feet of which to cross.PING!!!!
Off goes my ski. I quickly managed to self-arrest, but my ski wasn't so lucky. The brakes failed to engage in the soft graupel top layer and off it shot out of view. I swore. In fact, I swore a lot, for I just lost the entire vertical gain of my skin.
The others were waiting for me up ahead out of view. I called AmyZ on the phone to let the others know that I was out and that I'd meet them at the bottom. I then began a long, long sideslip on one ski. I could see the track of my ski stretching off into the distance, and the track ended just shy of the regular groomer heading over to Sugarloaf from the top of Collins.
When I finally reached my ski I still had trouble getting the toe pins to engage the tech inserts. But now I was standing on flat ground. I wasn't clinging to the side of a steep icy slope, so I examined the situation more closely. As best as I can tell there was a small buildup of ice under the toe plate, so that was forcing the toe springs back up every time I stepped down to engage the pins. I'm still relatively new to Dynafit and I'm still learning. Chalk today's episode up to another valuable lesson. I'm just glad that I didn't have to learn it in a more critical location, like Main Chute for instance.
The only thing left to enjoy was the short shot down Cecret Saddle, so I went for that...and had full view of my buddies' tracks up above.
They tried to tell me that their run sucked. It didn't.
We skied a few more runs, but by now my left leg felt great and my right thigh was cramping up thanks to my sideslip from hell. Skidog, mbaydala and I split at 1:45 while AmyZ and Bobby D headed for lunch.
Heading back down the canyon I was reminded of the change of seasons we're going through:
We'll be marking the final day of the Alta season tomorrow with a late afternoon BBQ in the Wildcat parking lot. If anyone reading this sees us, feel free to join us.