02 March 2010

Getting Caught Up: Avy Refresher and Ski Days 15, 16, 17

Another bout of blogslackeritis has brought about a dry spell here, and also what could be a massive missive, if I were to write as much as I could about basically all of February from a skiing/patrolling standpoint.

But I won't.

Feb 6th was my avalanche refresher course, and I certainly was pleased to get through it. Usually, the refresher means tromping around the snowfield just above the Timberline climber's lot, and that nearly always means post-holing. That isn't fun, and in anticipation of such shenanigans, I wore my knee brace. I was glad I did. The refresher was, for all practical purposes, a series of avalanche transceiver practice scenarios. The weather was better than I expected, but still windy and cold for part of it. It did snow on us a little bit, but no huge accumulation. I still needed some more practice on dealing with multiple-burial scenarios, but I did get probe strikes within a very short time of locating the first transceiver of the full scenario at the end. The only thing that went a little wrong was that one of the transceivers must have had low battery power when it was buried, because we never did get a signal from it once the scenario started. Hopefully, we'll find it in the late spring...

Feb 14th was effing miserable, and that was in large part because I am an idiot for agreeing to train the available apprentices on Valentine's Day. This did not thrill the missus, who had just had surgery on her toe to deal with a bone spur and some loose tissue. As if to punish my idiocy, it rained and just generally sucked that day. I don't even remember how the guys did, but we ran empty sleds on Radical and Cannonball at Ski Bowl. I think they did okay for their first extended time in the handles. I do remember they did fine with uploading the sleds on the chair.

The 21st was a gorgeous day to train, and we were at Meadows that day. The patrollers on duty there told us we weren't needed to help with opening assignments, so we got to ski for almost an hour with nobody else on the mountain. The guys needed the work on their carving, so we did that. Unfortunately, the sleds we had couldn't be used with sled carriers, and it was windy enough that we weren't particularly enamored with the idea of lap-loading them probably 10 times each, so we worked on rope-a-goat to get the apprentices a whole bunch of time getting used to tail-roping. It was probably for the best, since tail-roping is the hardest part of toboggan handling anyway. It was a good day to have nice sharp edges, which I did. I've been really on top of tuning my skis this season. I just need a truing bar now, and maybe some sticks of p-tex and a metal scraper to take care of the little grooves that have appeared in my bases. Probably a new plastic scraper for wax, since the one I have is looking pretty rounded on the edges...

The 28th was a 'regular' patrol day for me, meaning I wasn't coaching apprentices. It was looking to be a very warm and sunny day at Ski Bowl, and it wasn't long before I had unzipped the armpit vents of my parka. I changed from my parka to my vest somewhere around 9:30 that morning. Beautiful day. I had the lower-bowl opening assignment with John A, and we did a ton of rope line work. We did such a good job, that we were asked to set one up for the 'speed trap' that was being run as part of the Fusion Series of ski/snowboard competitions. We didn't get to run it, but the fastest speed I heard was 64 mph. We did some more transceiver practice - a multiple burial - and did pretty respectable at it this time around. The snow started off pretty firm, but once the sun cooked it a bit, it got nice and soft and fun to ski. All in all, a pretty good day.

Through it all, the repaired knee has been handling things pretty well. It's almost always sore at the end, but I chalk that up to conditioning (my lack of it) just as much as I would chalk it up to just being how I expect it to be at about 10 months post-op. I need to get off my ass and start riding my exercise bike and stuff again, which I've started up last night. Watching Premier League soccer is a great thing to do while riding, since a half is 45 or more minutes solid with no need to reach for a remote to skip commercials, so I watched Arsenal beat Stoke City off the DVR.