Saturday, January 2, 2010
"We should definitely mention how good the glades are in the Snow Report," said Myra. That's exactly what I want to do I thought to myself. Claim "ample amounts of snow for shredding in Sherwood Forest" then suffer the gnarly consequences (i.e.) two black eyes, a bloody lip and other minor flesh wounds when the angry mob, fists clenched and fangs exposed, storms the marketing office. "I don't think there's enough coverage in the trees to start pointing everyone in that direction," I said.
It is my first season at Stratton. I lack the skills and the knowledge necessary for navigating to the best kept secret stashes. Polar Bear was my go-to trail pick for the first two weeks. It's challenging, steep at the top and meanders down to a high-speed six pack you can lap until 3:30 p.m. I was about to bend my knees and stick a heelside carve over the first knoll on Polar Bear when I spotted a wooden sign along the right treeline that read "Diamond in the Rough." I popped into the dimly lit tree zone and pointed it south. Exposed rocks were capped with a milky layer of ice, but there was quite a bit of fresh. I crept along cautiously, my eyes darting left and right to see where tracks disappeared and re-emerged downhill.
Perched on a pedastal of thick roots I leaned into an old Maple and let the nose of my board inch it's way over the edge. WOOMF! I landed in a pile of snow as soft as a pillow-top matress! Genuinely surprised - I shifted my weight to the back leg and that's when things started to heat up.
Exiting Diamond in the Rough was like strolling out of the movie theatre after having seen a comedy written by Seth Rogen. Do I take URSA Express back to the summit and shred it again or do I let the scenes and sounds soak in and write an amazing review as soon as I'm within reach of my computer?
"I stand corrected," I said. I was standing in Myra's doorway, the fresh snow melting off of my helmet. "Diamond in the Rough is money right now." She removed the glasses from her face and said, "Let's get it in the Snow Report!" I hustled up the stairs to my office and told the world where they could score an untouched stash of powder.
10: 22 a.m.
" Before I hit Diamond in the Rough I took a run through Lower Middlebrook and the landings are still covered in freshies." "You want to go back out?" asked Rob Chrostowski (pronounced Clam-chow-ski for those of us who derive joy from butchering his last name). "Absolutely," I replied.
10: 30 a.m.
"The "Singles Line" is the way to go," said Chrostowski. After a short wait on the Gondola deck we were in the air talking about Kevin Pearce."He hit his head on the lip of the pipe just above the eyebrow," I said. "I hope he's doing alright.""I hope he survives bro," replied Chrostowski. The two of us sat quietly, his words still ringing in my head. All I could think about was my first run. I wanted to go back.
"I'm going to show you my favorite run on the mountain," declared Chrostowski. "I remember you showing me the run on a trail map when all 100,000 of them arrived in August," I said. "It starts with a fun little banked-slalom run through Upper Wanderer, cuts across the Meadows to Drifter and then we'll stay left through Dancing Bear" he said. It sounded good, looked good on paper, but was it going to as sweet as Diamond in the Rough? I followed him - unimpressed with the first section of Upper Wanderer. This is weak, where's the pow? everyone's already hit this I grumbled to myself.
10: 56 a.m.
"You're going to want to stay up high on the left side and make sure you watch out for the stream bed," said Chrostowski. Great. A streambed. Can't wait. Someone is bombing through Diamond in the Rough right now and I'm stuck at the entrance to Dancing Bear with a puss on my face.
Thankfully, I suppressed the moaning and groaning. I deserted my cravings for another run through Diamond in the Rough and ripped into powder turns and blinked for the face shots. Cold smoke went up my nose and when I stopped my unzipped pockets were filled with powder. "That was a sick line!," I acknowledged. " Yeah bro, it gets better." replied big Rob. Never doubt a local.
11: 10 a.m.
At this point the shit-eating grin on my face is frozen in place. "No one's been in here yet," said Rob as he sat down in a foot-and-a-half of pow at the entrance to Cabin Fever. My hands started sweating inside of my mittens and cold air flooded into my jacket from the top down as I leaned forward to scoop the snow out of my right binding. First tracks. This is the epitome of why we move to Vermont.