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Putting some adventure in my skiing life

This is it, the year I remake myself into a more hard-core skier. For too long, I’ve been sticking to the resort hills, never venturing off into the backcountry and using the sport for what is meant to be: a way in and out of some of the harshest and most beautiful spots on earth – and a pretty wicked way to get down a hill.  I’m finally prepared to earn my turns, no more trips to outdoor amusement parks that are today’s ski areas. Well, okay maybe a few trips….I always kicked myself for never skiing in Alaska. See, I have these ridiculous things on the end of my legs that measure a size 15 – double narrow, making me a bit of a cross between Barbie and Bigfoot.  Finding boots beyond a 14 is hard enough, but narrow as well? It ain’t happenin’. It was a bit of a lame excuse, I never really even tried to find ski boots that would fit. But finally this last week as the first big snow fell here in New Mexico, I could take it no more…

I made the trip to REI in Denver and managed to find a pair of Fischer cross-country boots in some crazy Euro size that don’t totally cramp me up.  So for now, I’m a cross-country man. I had been struggling with the decision between cross-country, telemark or touring skis for the backcountry. Unwilling to fully commit to the skinny skis for good, I grabbed a cheap pair from Play it Again sports. This way I can buy a pair of touring skis when the time comes without feeling much guilt over the cost.

With new (to me) skis, bindings, boots and poles in the back of the Subaru, we made our way to the continental divide to try them out. Sadly, we soon discovered that Colorado had not been blessed with the same white bounty as New Mexico that week. Ski trails on 11,000 foot Guanella pass were spotty at best. We kept driving, and just before sunrise we found some decent tracks on the shady side of I-70 leading to the trail to Gray’s Peak, a 14er.

A quick out-and-back that evening and another the next morning at Turquoise Lake above Leadville helped to get the skis and the boots broken in.  I’ll be sure to bring you along again and let you know if I start to fall in love with the skinny skis or keep lusting for something that can get me down a steep and turn on a dime…