Shark infested waters OR First snow, part three

When I was younger, I started using the workbench in our basement as a place to wax skis. Having rescued an old steam iron from my grandmother’s garage and scrounged cheap wax from a local shop, it was like the World Cup tuning room had moved in downstairs.

Of course, I reasoned that the iron should be as hot as possible. That meant purls of smoke coursing out of the pores that used to steam shirts, so the whole operation seemed  reminiscent of old bar air filled with blue stogie smoke. The smell would percolate up through the house, initially causing my dad to make me open the basement door and freeze while waxing. It bothered him to smell the melting wax, that creamy acrid layer in the air, but in my room at the top of the house, it was a sight better than the typical boy funk atmosphere that I’d breathe.

Yesterday evening, we got our first snow in Kalispell. Snow started around 5pm, and by 9pm, it was all out dumping AND sticking.  That meant that it might stack up enough to make skinning up Big Mountain possible. After cleaning off the summer dirt and gunk left on a few pairs of skis, I fired up the iron and the familiar smell seeped its way upward to my room.

I woke up to this

and after some careful analysis of web cams (which almost always seem better than it actually is), I took off for the hill.

My house had more snow than the base of the hill. Skinning up had rocks lurking right under the surface. Someone had headed up on snowshoes before me, but I never caught them and didn’t see a soul until I got back to the parking lot.


When the lifts are running, I’m usually bombing toward the bottom at this spot on Bench Run. The quiet moment with the lift stopped, rocks sticking into my skins, slight wind opening windows of clouds on the valley was a treat that I won’t stop to appreciate later on this year. Chalk up another benefit of touring.

These pictures make me laugh. Not really sure how exactly to take pictures of myself skinning or skiing. First one is missing the pole that holds the camera, second is a great pack shot, and the third speaks for itself.


Another early season moment while pulling into the summit. In a few months, this spot will be the place to find friends, the place people congregate to talk and figure out where they’re off to next. In those busy moments, it’s nice to think back on the one where the only sound was the wind making the drifts bigger.

After a bit of exploring, I dropped in on the Anthill and followed it down Russ’ Street. The general idea was to follow places that would hold more snow, but in only 6″ of snow, there’s not much for the sharks to lurk in. Grass got stuck in my boot buckles and trailed along as I moved down towards T bar two.

My bases took a beating on the first part and I noticed only until it dropped off again, the sun popped out, and the glory turns started. It had gotten warmer, the wax kicked in. Quick turns practically made themselves down the snow layered over the jeep road, and I realized later that I’d forgotten to turn on the camera because the stoke hit so fast and hard.

Lower down, the cover got too thin, and I ended up walking a good chunk of the way out. Got a couple odd looks in the parking lot which seems to be the norm–but if nobody else is stupid enough to head out, the shark infested powder is all mine for the taking.

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