10 June 2011

Ski Days 28 & 29: Sunny Nuts & Bolts

The annual Pacific Northwest Division Nuts & Bolts clinic for the patrol was this past weekend, and while I didn't ski all 3 days, I had a great time. The weather was, for the most part, perfect. I say "for the most part" because it was a tad breezy on Saturday.

Okay, understatement.

It was windy as hell on Saturday, to the point where the upper lifts were on standby almost all morning. This wasn't a catastrophe, because the lower mountain still has a crap-ton of snow. We skied the Pucci lift while we waited. Pucci. In June.

It was, however, still a big problem. All of the toboggans we left on the hill for the clinic from Friday's session were at the top of Palmer. I don't recall if I ever heard why we didn't ferry a bunch of the patrollers or instructors up top via snow-cat to ski the toboggans down, but it didn't happen. We did manage to get enough toboggans to start in on some of the clinic stuff.

Rewind to Friday, though. It was EPIC. Gorgeous day, got to see a bunch of familiar faces from last year's Nuts & Bolts (including the Michigan contingent), as well as some of the evaluators and advocates from when I took the NSP Senior S&T test last season. Very cool. The instructor shop talk session was excellent once again, and the whole clinic was an eye-opener for me in terms of how we need to approach toboggan-handling techniques and training. I had a lot of really good conversations with folks from different areas, tried a handful of slightly different things, and came away from the two days with an even more inspired perspective on teaching and evaluating. I'm really excited about next season.

Friday also was probably the best ski day, since it was a little cooler. We got to venture out west of Palmer a good ways and really crank and bank out in the untracked windpack. Gorgeous day, great snow, epic fun.

Back to Saturday. I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to get out of Saturday. I thought I'd just attend one of the toboggan enhancement sessions, and maybe just see what else I could pick up that might help. Instead, I got asked to help instruct one of the toboggan enhancement sessions. I was a little flattered, but mostly super excited to get out there and do it. I had a great time working with a really solid instructor named Dave, whose home area I can't recall. We took turns working with our group on various ski-skill drills in the morning, then working on toboggan-handling in the afternoon. Great day. Snow got a little sticky late, but the wax job from Fuxi Racing the afternoon before held up well.

I got off the mountain and caught the tail end of one of the other off-hill instructor clinics, then headed off to the patrol building in Govy to help set things up for the 'luau'. Burgers, taquitos and beer followed, as well as some more really good conversations about toboggan-handling training with a handful of MHSPers and one of the instructors from Bogus Basin.

I can't say enough good things about Nuts & Bolts. I hope we can get more folks from outside the west/northwest to come out next year.