How to Survive Being Trapped in the Mountains

I know you are all excited to hear about my exciting day snowboarding on Saturday, right?  Well, let me start you off at the beginning.  By the time we left Heber, it was about 11:15 in the morning.  Our plans were to get Twilight passes which start at Noon and go til the resort closes at 9.  It was raining when we left our house, but as you all know, I'm sure- rain in the valley usually means snow in the mountains.  It took us FOREVER to get Sundance because the weather was so nasty and everyone and there dog was there.  We learned later that all the other resorts were closing because the snow was so bad.  So not only did it take an eternity to get up the sketchy little canyon that leads to Sundance, but it also took us nearly forty minutes to get to the top parking lot.  It was almost one by the time we had our tickets and got on the chair lift.
 Now, the snow was really heavy and wet and when I sat down on the chair lift, I felt it soak into my snow pants like a sponge.  That concerned me a tad.  My pants usually keep me pretty dry as long as I'm not rolling around in the snow for hours.  But this snow was so wet, it was almost instant.  I shook it off, figured I'd be getting wet anyway and I was just happy that we finally had made it to the mountain.  We wanted to get to the back side of the mountain as quickly as possible, because that's where all the best runs are and they close that side at 4:30 so we wanted to get as much board time in as possible.  Especially because this guy told us that it was a white-out up there so everyone else was sticking to the front side of the mountain.  BONUS. Granted, we totally underestimated what he meant when he said it was a white-out blizzard up there.
I don't know if you remember, but on Landon's birthday when we stood on top of the mountain, it was so clear you could see all the way to the floor of the valleys on either side.  On Saturday, you couldn't find your board after five minutes of being inside the lodge.  And the wind was SO bad.  Once you started down the mountain it wasn't nearly as harsh, but right there on top felt like a tornado.  But, the snow up there wasn't even close to as wet as it was on the front side of the mountain which meant the powder was a lot lighter and way more fun to ride on.  

Now- this is where it got fun.  If you are not familiar with the difficulty system of skiing and snowboarding: a green circle is the easiest, the blue square is medium, double blue square is difficult, black diamond is expert and double black diamond is a death wish.  I don't usually stray from blue squares and double blue squares.  The second black diamond is mentioned I'm usually already heading in the opposite direction.  The black diamond of the top of the back mountain is called "Bishops Bowl" and Landon has tried to get me to go down it for years.  But it's hardly even a slope, more like a sheer face, so of course I couldn't even hardly get up next to the edge to look down.  But on Saturday, Landon told me, "If there ever was a day for you to go down Bishops Bowl, today is it."  The powder was knee deep and when it's that fluffy you could tumble the entire way down and not feel a thing.  So I gathered every ounce of courage I had and dropped off the face into the blizzard below.  It helped a lot that I couldn't see anything, I probably would have chickened out if I could.  And Landon was right.  The powder was so soft and forgiving, I shredded down the entire run.  Only biffing it a couple of times.  I didn't even notice my inner layers soaking up every single bit of snow.
Once we got down that run, though things got a little hairy. To get to the lifts, you have to take this little side trail, but if you don't have enough speed you're SOL because it starts going uphill.  I went as far as I could before I stopped completely and had to take my board off and walk the rest of the way.  Normally, that wouldn't have been so bad, but every step I took I sank up to my knees.  And the walk out was about a half a mile.  I was EXHAUSTED by the time I got to the turn off.
Landon helped me buckle back in my board, and I stared at the continuing cat track ahead of us and just dreaded it.  Landon said to me, "Well, we can either keep on this trail, or we can drop off it here and it will take us to another lift."  I looked down the next black diamond that lay ahead of me, and knew it was the better option than having to hike myself out.  Falling down the mountain at this point was a lot less painless and required much less work.  Good news though, I didn't fall all the way down the mountain. I mean, I fell a couple times, but mostly I snowboarded. You guys have no idea how proud of myself I am that I took on such difficult runs.

When we got off that run and back down to the original chair lift on the back side, they had shut it down because the blizzard was too strong and they were sending everyone back to the front side of the mountain.  I was bummed because there were substantially more people on that side, and the snow wasn't nearly as good. We didn't have many options at that point though, so we went.  By the time we got to the base of the mountain, I was BEYOND exhausted.  I was barely staying up on my board, so I told Landon and his mom to go do some runs without me, and that I would go chill out in the lodge for awhile.  And by that point I was realizing that I was soaked to the bone and shivering like a chihuahua. I hadn't been in the lodge for twenty minutes when Landon walked through the door, I was sort of confused until he said, "So we are in a situation.  There was an avalanche in the canyon and the road is out, we could be stuck here for a couple hours."  I sat there in my puddle of water and thawing ice almost dumbfounded.  I said to Landon, "Well, should we go get in the truck and try to get out of here?"  Because apparently the whole "The canyon is closed" part didn't register in my mind.  All I could comprehend was the hypothermia that was setting in even while I was indoors.  It was five o'clock in the afternoon and it was pouring rain at this point and I knew that as time passed and the temperatures dropped that meant ice and more snow and more avalanches.  In my mind, we were in a state of emergency.  I looked out the window and saw HUNDREDS of cars all stopped in line trying to get out of the canyon, and I knew that none of us going anywhere....

TO BE CONTINUED...

4 comments:

  1. ahahah cliff hanger! (literally, you were boarding on cliff)

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  2. okay hello FINISH THE STORY. dying here.

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  3. Look at you, boarding superstar! Congratulations on taking some brave runs and ricking them. However, that snow storm... kind of really terrifying. Yikes.

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  4. THIS IS TERRIFYING. But also, that last picture...lolz.

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