In the last week of January,2009 I was able to spend a few days skiing in Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is always cathartic for my ravaged soul. The conditions were all over the map, the mountains having experienced a long, hot spell followed by rain, grapple, wet snow and finally dry snow driven by winds that could flense an adult walrus in a few minutes. Couldn’t have been better.
I had been preparing for the trip for weeks, psychologically. Two back surgeries the previous winter had reduced my training regimen from semi-annual to non-existent. Scheduling conflicts such as work kept me from visiting the areas that abound at home near Lake Tahoe, so I had zero ski days on a body with more fat on it than a French duck. I had as much chance of surviving Snowbird and Alta as a rib roast in a piranha tank.
Fortunately, the Lord is merciful, anti-inflammatory drugs are powerful and there are techniques that allow one to block out pain. There are also many wonderful people in this world with which to ski, kind people who stand quietly by, pretending to be in awe of Nature, while my chest heaves so violently in its futile quest for oxygen that tiny lung particles break lose and make for the exits. One such person is Guru Dave Powers, a man whose passion for the sport hasn’t diminished after thousands of days of riding gravity down the infinitely variable slopes and crannies of Snowbird. The Goo knows this hill, and in knowing it well knows so much more.