Wrote this last season after "skiing under the influence".
Trip up Dog Leg and down Shit for Brains
The day started off early with Tog handing me a baggy with one stem and one cap of a Jolly Rancher. I will never forget what he said next. “The mountain told me we should eat these.”
Alright, let’s double the ante, as he later put it.
These were the shittiest tasting jolly ranchers I had ever had: chewy, blue, nasty, and not strawberry flavored.
We begin the skin up towards the bottom of Dog Leg. Once in the trees, the jolly rancher hits me full force. I get to a steep spot, and cannot figure how to skin up it. I cut left and do not seem to have the coordination to make it, so I try cutting right. I end up in a funny position with both hands on the ground in front of me while my skis are slipping down the hill behind me.
I end up kicking off my skis and walking up the steep section.
This is not good. That Atmosphere song goes through my head- “I cant lose the aftertaste from the bloomers tell me why did I take them? My man told me I would dig them. Told me to roll with him. I did them. Now Im a victim.”
Ok. I think to myself. Pull it together. Use your head.
I’m seeing old avi debri all over the place. I have the creeping feeling that I am making a huge mistake.
We come out of the trees and see the face. We can see wind and snow whipping the top of the mountain. It isn’t snowing down low, but it’s grey and gloomy. The runout of Dog Leg scares me to the core.
Skin over to the lookers left of dog leg, pop off skis, attach to pack, and start the boot pack. I’m taking it one step at a time, hoping the jolly rancher will wear off before I have to ski down.
One foot after the other. Random thoughts are going through my head. “Glad I brought the fullface” “why don’t bike companies make gearbox bikes yet” “Norway sounds like a really cool place” etc…
Finally we make it to this nook. It’s pretty high up. This is where I feel the jolly rancher loosen its hold on me. I look out and the view is beautiful. Abasin is starting to wake up, we see some skinners down below, and howl at them.
A little coffee and then back to the climb. It’s getting steep now. I’m using my arms as much as my legs. Always trying to maintain three points of contact. We are getting up there. At this point, a slip would mean cart wheeling out of control down the couloir. It would definitely be many broken bones and would probably be fatal. Anyway, three points of contact.
One arm or leg at a time. Keep it movin. I start talking about Shane McConkey. Teaching my naïve snowboarder buddy all I know about the life of Shane. I tell him how as a kid, I would watch him pretty much every day on the movies skiing sick lines, and how I totally aspired to be like him, and how it’s so cool that now, we are out here doing some sick shit. Just talking, keeping the butterflies down. Keep on movin.
Finally, we reach the next nook. We are pretty much on top. I have to strategically position my pack and myself so the wind doesn’t blow us off and down the mountain. I strip off my skins (which I neglected to do earlier for some reason I can’t think of right now), drink some more coffee, and attach my poles to my pack. I feel like an eagle perched in a little nest high above everyone else. This seems like a good place to adopt the helmet.
The next section is a sketchy traverse over to the top of shit for brains. I say, in my best old man impersonation, “yano watcha got in yer head sonny? Ya got shit fer brains!!!” we both bust out laughing. After handing my pack down and making up some new climbing moves that would probably be shunned by the climbing community, I make it across.
This is when something amazing happens. The wind dies down, the sky clears, and the sun shines upon us.
The next and final step is the down climb to skiable snow. Same three points of contact with death as the reward for falling as earlier, except for two crucial points: First, this is scree mixed with snow, and my ski boots are slippery. Second, downclimbing is scarier than upclimbing. It’s like skiing switch, and you already know the reward for falling.
We stand there. There. At the point where all our hard work is about to pay off. We very very carefully strap/ click in. At this point, I know I’m still kinda feelin the effects of the jolly rancher. Must be extra careful.
The snow isn’t the greatest. Kinda refrozen crust with awkward ridges and bumps. One hop turnish thing after another I manage down towards where tdog has stopped. This is not how my XXL’s are supposed to be skied, and I am doing the fullface an injustice. Anyway, I make it about halfway down to a kind of choke.
I poke my way around the bend, and I can see this nice and almost straight path out through the lower half. Hmmmmm. I can definitely do this. It is kinda scary though. Don’t want to lose control and go pinballing between rock walls.
Make two more of those stupid jumpturnish things, take a deep breath. Point it. 60mph 70 80…. I am going pretty damn fast. The jolly ranchers add to this feeling. The best I can think to relate it to is the feeling of sky diving. Free falling off the mountain. My skis are going over bumps but they feel weightless. Faster, Faster, Faster. Make the slight turn at the bottom. Then the run out! There it is. Carve two XXL sized turns, come to a stop. WOoooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Dammmmmmmmmmmmnnnnnnn. I’m fuckin alive!!!!!! Haha.