09 April 2011
Having agreed to meet up with Andy at Solitude, I convinced John and Phil that it was the best choice for skiing. Sunday night, we headed over to Lift House and Phil and I rented some powder skis - John stuck with his all-mountains. We both got Volkl Bridge rentals, which are a little wider in the tip and tail than my AC3 Unlimiteds, but a lot wider in the body. They also have what are known as "rocker" tips, which means that the scoop is wider and both ends of the ski are tapered. This tends to give them more flotation in powder than a standard all-mountain ski.
This was a pretty minor change for me, and I found the skis easy to adjust to within a couple of turns. Phil, however, was coming from Salomon X-Screams. These are much older, straighter skis with far less side-cut. John and I have been needling him to get new shaped skis for a long time, but Phil has claimed it doesn't matter... while being amazed at how much better a skier I became after buying my AC3 Unlimiteds.
In January, I beat Phil up pretty badly, skiing him right into the ground at Alta. He vowed to get into shape over the winter and to get his revenge on me in April, and on Monday he succeeded. He was hell-on-skis on these powder skis, and after a single run he looked at me and said, "you've been cheating!" Ha! Using technology to improve my abilities isn't cheating, Phil, it's progress.
We met up with Andy about 9:30, and he took us on two massive hikes on the left side of Honeycomb Canyon. We were walking uphill, through powder, in skis, at 9500' elevation, for 45 minutes straight, twice. Phil the triathlete had no trouble keeping up, but Mark the Xbox player was suffering pretty badly. But the payoff was worth it, because when we finally pointed our skis downhill, we had nothing but pure unbroken powder in front of us.
In the video below, notice the difference between the tree run at the beginning and the powder run at the end. The tree run is jerky and bouncy as I ski over other people's ski tracks. The powder run, even though I'm intersecting Andy's tracks on every turn, is far smoother. This is the difference between a good run and an awesome run. If you've never powder-skied before, it can be a frustrating experience. Every fall will wear you out, and every turn is a lot of work. Until you have a run like this one... then you're hooked forever.