January 9, 2023 Through The Abyss To Powder Heaven
Barrman and Big Boarder looked into the abyss. At least it seemed like an abyss. All they could see was white. The only other thing they could see was each other.
They were at the top of the mountain and the sky touched the ground. It was white and it was surreal. They felt a sense of vertigo as they stood listening to the sound of the T-bar spinning behind them. They could make out shapes and figures and they could see a blue pole off to the right. But it was hard to tell which way was up.
And which way was down?
They had to rely on their other senses. Their sense of hearing and an innate sense of direction would get them where they wanted to go.
Where they wanted to go was heaven. Powder heaven.
They knew it was out there. They knew they could find it. It was a matter of using the force. Of feeling their way down and sensing the fall line. They had poles to guide them. And their intimate knowledge of the mountain’s terrain.
They went where most feared to go. Big Boarder strapped his foot to his snowboard and laughed. “Ok dude lead the way.”
Barrman smiled and searched for the next blue pole. He pushed away from the top of the mountain and let gravity guide him. “Follow me, buddy, I know the way.”
He may have known the way, but there was no way he could see it.
The slope was mild and the flats came where they knew they should be. Yet it was hard to keep up speed when there was no way to see what was coming.
“Just trust in yourself and remember to cut right at the blue pole after the final sign!” Barrman called out to Big Boarder as they carefully rode across the top of the mountain.
Barrman kept up his speed and saw the sign then he turned at the blue pole. Fear, anxiety, and excitement all boiled inside the intrepid skier. He knew the prize at the end of the traverse would be epic. It would be steep and it would be deep.
It would be theirs for the riding. No one else was at the top of the T-bar that day. They had the abyss to themselves.
Barrman slid across toward the powder heaven. He wished he could see better so he could ski faster. But he also didn’t want to hit a snow drift in the fog. One day last ski season he hit a drift and his left ski never released. He went down, hard. The doctor told him his PCL would never heal, he was stuck without one in his left knee. It was a high price to pay for something he loved.
It wasn’t going to stop him.
The slope of the hill on the other hand slowed him right down until he had to push and skate with his skis. Big Boarder didn’t have the same option as Barrman. He had to hop and flop like a fish out of water to keep moving forward. It was comical to watch the big guy hopping and pushing himself across the mountain.
But the goal was worth it and it was almost in sight. As much as they could see anyway. Barrman reached the top of the glades before Big Boarder. The true location of powder heaven shall remain a secret for those who know. Barrman stood and howled in delight. He giggled at the site of the untouched terrain that opened up beneath him.
They could see and what they saw was pure skiing joy. Everywhere they looked was untouched snow. Not another mark etched across the virgin terrain. It was all theirs and it was worth the effort. Inbound cat skiing, like none other. Except there was no snow-cat required.
Barrman waited for Big Boarder to catch up and they whooped with delight as he descended the steep terrain. Snow floated past his shins and up to his knees. He looped around a tree and carved continuous turns in powder glory. He could hear Big Boarder howling with delight to his left and he answered with howls of his own.
The two snow-riding buddies found themselves almost at the bottom of the run where they stopped. Their grins were as wide as their faces and they looked back at the amazing run they’d skied. On a day when most people were hiding back in the village or riding on the Black Forest Chair the two buddies found powder heaven.
So when they reached the chair at the bottom they both looked at each other and laughed in unison, “again!”
They went back to the top of the mountain, and they went back for more.
They were the only ones at the T-bar again. The liftee came out with a surprised look on his face.
“We must be the only people he has loaded in the last hour,” Big Boarder said to his ski buddy.
“Ya man I doubt anyone else is crazy enough to brave this visibility. You know what that means don’t you?” Barrman smiled back at Big Boarder.
“What do you mean oh no? Oh, Ya is what you should be saying.” Barrman saw Big Boarder pad his jacket and he could tell by the look on his face something was wrong.
“Oh no, I lost my phone!” Big Boarder checked again and he couldn’t find his cell phone anywhere. Barrman pulled out his and called him. No luck and no phone.
“We’ll just have to retrace our route.”
“That ought to be fun in this visibility.” Big Boarder shrugged. “But we can try, it’s probably where I started hopping across the flats.”
“I have faith…” Barrman looked into the white-out conditions and hoped for the best.
They reached the top of the T-bar and went back into the abyss. Barrman led the way and spotted their tracks from before. He felt pretty confident he could retrace the route they took, despite only being able to see less than ten feet in front. He followed the trail and looked hard. But he couldn’t spot the phone.
He kept pushing, kept searching. He call out into the white abyss and heard Big Boarder behind him. He slowed and crossed the flats. He was looking, hoping.
Barrman slid further and decided to call Big Boarders phone. He heard Big Boarder holler and thought he was calling out to him. All he could see was white, but he called Big Boarders’ phone to see if they could hear it ring.
He let the phone ring and held it away trying to hear the phone.
“Hey, dude!” It was Big Boarder on the phone.
“I found it man! I saw a hole in the snow and reached in. Boom there it was. It must have fallen out of my pocket when I started my hopping. I’ll be right there.” Big Boarder ended the call.
Barrman laughed at his buddy’s fortune. Then he turned and looked at the amazing powder field in front of him. Theirs were the only tracks to be seen. A few minutes later he was joined by a jubilant Big Boarder.
The two snow riders lapped up the goodness they found. They rode to the bottom of the gem and circled to the easter chutes and back. At the end of the day, they returned for one last run in powder heaven. They still couldn’t see but they knew the way and theirs were the only tracks around. It was like they had their own private ski hill.
So what if they could see it? They could feel it and what they felt was awesome.