Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunshine, Powder, Avalanches…

Over the weekend, Heinz and I were up to our usual antics of hiking in the mountains and searching for untouched powder to ride. It was a beautiful day with the sunshine beaming and a cool breeze circling in the air, you couldn’t ask for anything better.

Our day started out by riding down a shoot that I call “Tower Shoot” due
to the fact that there is a power tower above it. The snow was fresh, light, and so, so good.


Next we went to the same area, but went down a different shoot called “Lake Shoot”.


 Normally, Heinz will go down a shoot or a face of a mountain first, but this time I went for it and boy was it an adventure. As I was approaching into the shoot, I made a turn and sprayed a cloud of snow over my head, (*FACE SHOT!)
 which I then inhaled, and at that point I wasn’t sure if I was in an avalanche or not so I ‘B’ lined it down as fast as possible. (Heinz told me later that I triggered a small slide, but I wasn’t actually in an avalanche.)  After getting to a safe zone and catching my breath, I readied myself for Heinz to come down.

As I was watching Heinz make his first few turns, a wave of white came from behind and gobbled him up. Heinz had triggered an avalanche. Everything happened so fast and just as I was about to book it to save his ‘A’, he popped out of the avalanche and road to safety. It was crazy, freaky, & incredible all at the same time. This was my first experience seeing an avalanche, LIVE. Luckily, it was a smaller avalanche so it fizzled out fairly quickly, but when you are watching someone you love disappear into the white mass of an avalanche, it is nerve rattling.

This may sound strange, but I feel lucky to have witnessed Heinz in an avalanche and seeing how I was ready to spring into action. Heinz and I are always prepared with beacons and shovels when we are skiing in the back country and we do take precautions, but despite being as safe as possible, you can’t always predict what is going to happen.

This also brought up another emotion, which is fear. To me, fear is something that is necessary to grow, learn, and progress. I have come to the realization that fear is a good thing. It helps me to conquer goals and dreams that may seem unattainable or even scary. It’s like going to this quiet place inside and accepting the realities of what could happen (good or bad) and pushing those feeling aside and just going for it.
I have accepted the fact that there can be consequences when pushing your fears and boundaries, but I think it’s worth it. I rather knock my fears down than be paralyzed by them.

All in all it was an exciting weekend and a good learning experience with everyone staying
 SAFE.

* A Face Shot is skiing/snowboarding fast through powder, causing it to fly up into your face.