Spring Skiing

On a whim last week I hit the road with a storm on my tail. A friend who was already in Tahoe invited me to stay with him at his friend’s place which is a 10 minute walk from the Squaw Valley ski resort. Another friend offered me irresistibly cheap lift tickets for the weekend. It was already 10pm on Thursday night when I got off the phone with my buddy, Jason, who ignored all of my detailed questions and just said, “Bring it!” and told me to leave at 4 am the next morning. What else could I do but pack my bag?

That seems pretty straight forward, except that when it comes to snow sports, I’m a total newbie. I spent three days skiing last winter at Crystal Mountain in Washington and that pretty much sums up my skiing career. Oh, except for the one terrifying day I spent on the bunny slopes as a child that scared me away from snow for decades.

4 am seemed hideously early, so I slept in and left at 7. Thinking I would still beat the dumping storm that was headed our way, I drove into the rain, stopping in Sacramento for tire chains and rental skis. I don’t recommend Land Park Ski and Sports. They did a poor job fitting me to my boots- they measured my feet and only gave me one pair to try on, then ignored my concern that they felt really big. Knowing nothing about ski equipment I didn’t challenge them on it, but regretted that all weekend as I floated around in my boots.

By the time I was climbing up HWY 80 towards Donner Pass, the sky dropped and traffic inched to a crawl.

A rare clear moment on HWY 80 near Donner Pass

It took me a grueling 7 hours to reach the ski resort, but I was giddy the whole way. After such along dry winter it was exciting to finally see a big storm come in. I got to put chains on my tires for the very first time! (I can feel you veteran snow bunnies rolling your eyes). And then take them off, and put them on, and take them off…
Now I know why people buy 4WD and snow tires if they live in the mountains. Living through a couple winters in Madison, Wisconsin prepared me for driving in snow, but not snow on a hill!

The rest of the night it dumped and by morning I was rewarded with this stellar view from the dog hair coated couch I slept on at the “stables” house.

The view from Danny and Mitch's long time family house at the Stables.

It didn’t take us long to get out of the house and start our day off white.

Jason searching for steep and deep from the lift.

The last I see of Jason each day. The sign might as well read, "Certain death or dismemberment for Haven"

A peak of Lake Tahoe from the top of my first run.

By the end of the day we seemed to have the mountain to ourselves as the snow returned.

That evening we returned to the house to find a might bit of a party going on.

It was, after all, Saint Patrick's day.

The next day we dragged our sorry, hung over asses out to ski. We drove the 1/2 mile to the lift before we realized Jason had a flat. But typical to Jason style, he left it to deal with later.

Good thing we skied first! Better to deal with a flat at the end of the day- after the tire shop is closed!


After 2 days of skiing I was beat, and my legs could barely hold my skis straight in my too big boots, but I was still sorry to leave Monday morning. It was another gorgeous powder day- at least 6 fresh inches and bluebird skies.

It is a bit different to be picking up a new sport like skiing so late in life. Everyone I talked to seemed to have learned to ski as soon as they could walk. I was constantly passed by 4 year olds on the slopes. None of that deterred me though. I totally enjoyed it.

It got me thinking too… How many new sports can I become proficient at before I hit 40? On my hit list: Skiing, white water kayaking, and… kite surfing?
Actually, it seems more believable to me that I master all three before I even find a job! Now, to just scrounge up some gear…

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