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January 5, 2013 – Mission Ridge Backcountry
In lieu of skiing in-bounds on Saturday, we decided to spend the day further exploring slopes we like to call the “Back Bowls.” Eric modified our climbing skins so they would fit our new(ish) skis. Yay!
The last time we skied the “Back Bowls” was January 1-2 of 2011. At that time, we were treated to absolutely perfect fluff on a bluebird day.
Saturday…not so much. You could describe the avalanche conditions as “welded.” HA! It was fun, but in a different sort of way. It was immensely enjoyable just being out there exploring. (Truth be told, we did find a few soft spots.)
We skied into some trees that were burned during the huge Ellensburg/Wenatchee forest fires of Sept/Oct 2012. The fire line stopped just short of the Mission Ridge ski area. Whew!
There is something starkly imposing about burnt trees that remain standing after a fire goes out. It’s fascinating how something beautiful and impressive can emerge from such destruction. The black char against white snow in winter is particularly striking…
This video was taken exactly 2 years ago…4/17/10. Here I was with my brand new skins. They are ridiculously sticky when new. I thought that Eric was taking my picture. I was trying to make a fierce face. Then I realized he was taking a movie and it cracked me up! I love Eric’s commentary.
To climb uphill with skis on, you must apply “skins” to the ski bottoms. (Unless the skis themselves are made for climbing.) They work like this: when you glide the ski uphill– forward– the fibers run flat, but when you stop or try to slide backward the fibers “stand up” and grip the snow. You won’t slide backward unless the slope is very steep or the snow is glossy ice, or if you don’t weight your ski properly on a steep slope. It’s a pretty strange feeling the first time you realize you’re not going to slip!
(Think of those directional spikes you drive over in your car…“Caution: Severe Tire Damage!”…You can roll forward and the spikes flatten, but if you travel in reverse…Yikes! It’s the same concept.)
Back in the days of “old,” seal skin was used. Not vegan! I’m thinking that people might have used their skis for travel and not solely for recreation in those days? Maybe it was necessary to use seal skin once upon a time? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter now because the past is the past. Point is, we don’t need to use the skin of a seal anymore.
When you can do better, you should do better and you better do better…right? Now, we use nylon skins. Continuing to use the word “skin” is kind of icky, but it’s a good reminder of how times change even though words tend to persist. Change is good!