The True story of The First Annual SkiVt-L Spring Party
The True story of The SkiVt-L Spring Partyor, what SKI didn't tell you
Most of the details here pertain to what I'd call the Sick Puppies Group. Somehow, I got stuck with skiing with them for the day.
The biggest day of the year, and Doctor One True Love needed to fly home to Canada to deal with a variety of pressing relationship details. Ever the worthless boyfriend, I deposited her at the airport at 6:15 AM, and then raced to meet Wonder Grrll Alice and Pinhead Jim for breakfast and early skiing at Stowe.
Trouble was, Wonder Grrll's water heater had exploded. Big mess. Pinhead was late, then went home again to get a dry/wet shop vac. I tapped my foot, checked my watch. Jim and vac returned. Ever the gentleman, I shoved Jim under my arm, hastily arranged a sketchy plan to meet Wonder Grrll sometime later, and raced out the door.
Hit Mansfield just in time for the first scheduled rendezvous, 10:00 AM at the Octagon. Wind was howling. But then, during the ride up the quad, I thought I spotted some fresh powder somewhere off of Nosedive.
Now, some might say, "Hey, Wes...you can't even see Nosedive from the Quad!" Never mind. I had a Vision. I was in search of a Holy Grail: Powder, Fresh Tracks. These three words became my mantra for the day. I was on a quest.
Later, I'd enlist the others in my crusade. For now, ever the ski bums, Pinhead Jim and I blew off them and the 10:00 rendezvous to get a piece of that grail for ourselves.
And, miraculously, after weeks of unseasonable spring weather, we found the door to heaven.
We emerged from our paradise in the woods to discover a bevy of SkiVt-Lers on Nosedive, accusing us of tardiness for said rendezvous, wondering where we were. I made some lame excuses and joined them for another ride to the top, while Jim went off to repair a busted pole strap.
At the summit, it was time to steal a line from Wunderski. "Hey, I've got an idea...how about Nosedive to the Glades?"
There seemed to be some dubious head shaking, but no real argument. Wunderski, J-Spin, Mitch, Tokin' Boarder, IBjiM, and I dunno who else (as someone said when we emerged, "Anybody do a head count?") dived into the glades in search of The Truth.
And The Truth was Powder. And it was good.
Okay, reality check. So maybe skiing the Glades wasn't the best idea. Maybe it wasn't mid February knee-deep maximum inter lodge champaign fluff. Maybe there was a rock or stump or two here and there. Maybe I should have told everybody to watch out for that stream. But, hey, so near to the end of the leanest snow season any of us could remember, we weren't expecting anything close to powder. We are Vermont Skiers, not pampered Utah fusspots. If we want to ski rocks and bark and call it powder, we will. And like it, too.
In any case, the run through the Glades energized us to continue our quest. The line for the slow
speed quad would have wore us down, so we opted for the double. J-Spin said the posted report at the ticket window listed Hayride as open, so we made tracks in that direction, only to discover a big rope across the top of Hayride. I said, "Hey, I've got an idea!" and suggested that maybe it was open from the lower entrance off of Lord, so we went to investigate.
Sure enough, the lower entrance had no ropes. And for some unknown reason, no tracks. Four to six inches of windblown powder, and no tracks.
Something didn't fit about this situation, but who were we to quibble. Ten or fifteen strong, we blasted down our private trail, raised the SkiVt-L Flag, and claimed it for our own.
It was getting close to lunchtime, but we couldn't help but do it again...
12:30. Now late for lunch. Lots of SkiVt-Lers at the quad base. Inching closer to loading, they pull a rope. Mass of humanity dashes for double. We slowly creak to the near-summit, and upon arrival begin a death march through the arctic winds towards the Octagon. We invoked the words of our absent comrade, Jonathan.Kamien (rough paraphrase: "If you can't hike from the Lookout to the Octagon, I guess you can't hike up the Chin or Nose, either!"). We marched towards free food and our destiny with Dave Goodman and his SKI camera. Towards our host Reggie, braving the gale while stoking our ghrill.
Towards nothing. By this time, the Octagon was pretty much deserted except for the kitchen staff and about 30 rowdy hooligans wearing little "SKIVT-L '95" labels on various body parts. Not a ghrill nor a POWDER editor to be seen.
While waiting on the food line for some chowder, the phone rings. It's Goodman. They've closed the Lookout double. He's stranded at the base, we're stranded at the top. I tell him we're busy eating, c'mon up and join us. We'll wait.
Ten minutes later, phone rings again. Goodman decides he wants to talk to someone more reasonable. PattiMac and he negotiate a meeting just above the top of the triple chair.
Well, I grumble, 'cause I wanted another run down Nosedive, but the lure of the camera is inescapable. We meet for the shoot. After some confusion, Dave and cameras appear. We settle down on the wrong side of a "Closed" rope for about 20 group shots.
Goodman shot his load of film, and the group splintered again. The Level Heads crossed back over the rope for a cruise down to the Gondola base; the Sick Puppies and Dave followed the closed trail back out to Hayride for another private bump-fest.
Hayride was still in great shape. We still couldn't understand why we were the only crew skiing it. Figured it was another gift from Reggie.
The Sick Puppies were in top form -- something about having a POWDER editor and SKI writer in our midst seemed to raise our skiing to a height commensurate with our electronic egos. Back country Mitch proved that he was no stranger to alpine gear; J-Spin exhibited his amazing Rubber Knees; Wunderski showed us what he learned from breaking two ribs last year; ShawShank jumped, shimmied, and spun, then sat in the middle of the trail like a true boarder.
And the SKI/POWDER guy? Not bad, for a corporate dude. We decided to let him hang with us for another run or two.
At the Gondola base, I finally met up with Wonder Grrll and Pinhead, who themselves had stumbled upon "Chuck left his rock Skis in Boston, so he didn't want to go to Jay that day and trash his good boards." I rode up with them, and we all regrouped at the summit.
With Chin Clip closed, there didn't seem to be many options. But I had an idea.
I said to Matt, "How foolish should we be?" and Matt just smiled back.
Hey Dave," I said, "What do you think about those woods just off the left of Perry Merrill?"
Also smiling, "I dunno. Might be okay."
And okay they were, at least up to the big orange snow fence and waterfall.
Aside 1: just why put a snow fence in the woods, if it ain't a trail?
Aside 2: if it ain't a trail, it ain't closed!
Last time I went down this way, there was a hell of a lot more snow. Since I couldn't really see over the lip, I opted for an inglorious and rather unpopular skirt around the right edge. Several folks followed, but as the dozen or so others caught up, a bottleneck of sort formed.
By this time, A crowd of onlookers had formed as well. Responding to his public, Wunderski decided it was time to employ some cartoon gravity, and scooted under the fence and over the drop. The man hit it just right, and established the new trend. One by one, the remainder of the Sick Puppies braved the cliff to the cheers of an appreciative audience.
When this excitement was over, however, we were still left with the quandary of what to do next...
After the excitement of the Tombo waterfall was over, we were still left with the quandary of what to do next...
No problem: I had an idea. Streambed. If the Holy Grail of Powder existed under the Gondola, it would be found in the Streambed.
Damn stream bed. Had a stream in it. Filled with water. Go figure. This might have been when that boot got wet. Glad it wasn't mine.
Oh well, crusades are like that. So we had to ski Chin Clip. Life could be worse. How bad could it be? It snowed recently. And it was pretty nice of Reggie to open it for us.
Sure enough, we found more fresh tracks. Some thin cover, but nothing Guido wouldn't open. Apparently, no one else had been down it recently. Didn't make any sense, but I wasn't going to try to figure it out. There was fresh snow in front of me, and a band of screaming puppies on my tail. I made tracks.
That Goodman guy was still with us, we just couldn't shake him. Couldn't tell at this point if he was still in search of a story, or just having a good time. I thought I detected one of those sh*t
eating grins on his face as he tore up the pow-pow on Chin Clip, but he was also waving a tape recorder in our faces at every opportunity.
The long rides back up the Gondola gave him ample opportunity. He seemed to expect some sort of articulate insights from the Sick Puppies regarding the SkiVt-L list and what it was good for. He was met by blank stares. Hard to get any insights out of a crew who just skied over a waterfall and across a river in order to get at some rocks and call it Big Powder Fun.
3:45 PM. Most of the SkiVt-Lers were already settling down at the bar. Our SKI chronicler had to get home to his wife and domestic responsibilities. I was hanging around the Gondola base, waiting to see if Alice and Jim would reappear.
Suddenly, Powderhound beams down from Guelph. Wunderski goes out of control. Goodman abandons his family.
We meet at the summit. Someone else had already stolen my idea. Cliff Trail. It hadn't been open all day -- it was sure to be good.
Away we went, down perfect packed powder. No, really -- conditions were fabulous.
But we were still enlisted in a mission from God, we had a crusade to complete. Woods beckoned, we answered. We swung right to play joust with the trees one last time.
A perfect ending to a perfect day. If we made a mistake all day, it was to forget to count just how many bodies went into the woods, and how many came out again.
If we left anyone behind, they'll be there until the ravens tell us where to find them.
Thanks to everyone who made this outing a success. Thanks for the smiles, thanks for the beer, thanks for being part of the list.