Ski Mountaineering

SMS Downhill Clinic
January 25,1997

Leaders: Paul Harris, Nancy Gordon

This year we conducted our annual downhill clinic on a somewhat different basis than we have in the recent past, holding it at Bear Mountain Ski Area and having the instructors in their Free-heel Program run the clinics, with every expectation of having quality rentals available on site - Scarpa T3s and Dynastar Vertical Extremes.

Organizationally it was a little too exciting ( and those of you who know me at all know that "organized" is not one of the top ten adjectives that will come to mind). The decision was made in late summer because of the exigencies imposed by the Chapter Schedule. In the intervening time, the ownership of Bear Mtn had changed, the original terms changed four times, and the suppliers of the rental boots were not able to quite fulfill promises made (the number of rental boots available grew in the week before the event from 8 to 18 pairs but no really small sizes). Of skis there were plenty.

The weather played its part for our week-end, having snowed enough to block the drive at Keller which had been shoveled out just enough so that 4 or 5 cars could manage to park each other in.

Snow Valley again graciously allowed us to park in their lot over night (specific permission has to be obtained). As an aside this is a marvelous area for telemarking, especially after a good storm.

Waking up to rain, but intrepid as always we got off to Bear Mountain ( a couple of people weenied out, but skied the next day when conditions were almost a bad). The weather all day was the same. Rain at the bottom of the mountain, snow and wind at the top. "Full Conditions", in the words of the Great Goebelski. BUT, the bad weather gave us wonderfully ski-able snow instead of the typical Southern California pseudo-glacier. Restored my faith in Goretex. If you believe, it won't leak.

When we got to the mountain things were well organized; rentals, tickets, group assignments. Our clinic was run in conjunction with a Womens Clinic, sponsored by the ski area, an opportunity of which most of the women in our group took advantage . The instructors for the various groups were Joe McCoy, Dennis Yates and Nancy Gordon and Jeff Alger from BearMtn, Dale that hot woman skier fromCopper Mtn (yes, I forgot her last name), and Urmas Franosch from Mammoth Mtn. The generalized experience of the day seemed to be: brains got filled to over-flowing and bodies followed as best they could. But a good, fruitful day.

By dark Keller Hut was filled with tired people, wet clothes. The fires were going. (Reiner, by changing the paradigm got the dining room fire to burn without smoking.) Joy and Diann were presiding over the kitchen. Dinner was the usual mix, good food , good conversation, too much dessert, which is of course just enough. After dinner we were entertained by the Ad Hoc Guitar Quartet, Dennis, Bruce White, George and Urmas. They are very good musicians.

Personally, I had a great time, deconstructed my skiing, met a lot of very enjoyable people, and, happily, a lot of the regulars staggered out again.

I would especially like to thank both Diann Fried for all her invaluable help over the weekend and Joy Goebel for doing a wonderful job in organizing the food and getting it to the table.

Sunday several of us took part in the first of the Bear Mtn Free Heel -Telemark Events. The weather was much better. That is, it quit raining at the bottom of the mountain in the afternoon, although it kept on snowing lightly at the top.

Besides getting a bunch of stuff in a day-pack and a tee shirt and actually winning something at a drawing (not unfortunately one of the snow-boards), it was a lot of genuine fun, a whole bunch of telemarkers out having a good time intimidating snow boarders with our numbers. One could make a stately progress through a truly genteel race course, no DQ's, no Death by Donga. There was synchronized skiing, at least some of us were synchronized some of the time, an up-hill skinning race, (I took a gentlemanly last, some people to their apparent regret took this all too seriously). Reed Moore cheated. Just ask anyone. The day was capped by Dennis Yates leading us around the mountain: ( "There's some really bad snow over here", "If we ski over there we can drop 10 feet over a little cliff straight down to a flat road" or "Lets mono- tele down this frozen junk"). Then back to the barn for the food and the drawing. A grand day.

- Paul Harris

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