Saturday, March 30, 2013

Climbing Knife Ridge

When Lily and I went to Alberta Lift area, I was impressed by the expert skiers on top of the knife ridge. The beauty of the knife ridge was mesmerizing and I wanted to climb there to see it up close. But we had to delay til the next day because I did not bring my camera.

North side of knife ridge
A Bridge on Knife Ridge
When we reached the top of the Alberta lift the next day, the weather was as gorgeous as it had been the last two days. We parked our skis near the trail head, talked to a ski patrol briefly, and then started to walk up the "stairs" on a 80 degree steep face of the ridge - there was no obvious stairs any more, just some footholds. We saw expert skiers carrying their skis and climbing the stairs with ease and grace, but we could not stand on the footholds at all. We had to use both our feet and hands to stay on course. Because of acrophobia, I was much slower than Lily on the slope.

Once on top of that stairs, we met another ski patrol. He told us that the trail was narrow, the surface icy and slippery, and that we need to be slow and steady otherwise it would be a good tumble down either side of the ridge! We walked on the trail gingerly, with ski poles as walking sticks. Before we took the narrowest section of the path to the bridge, we took a break just to calm ourselves a bit. I took a few pictures of Lily. When I looked back, I saw Alberta Peak - the peak I climbed in 2011! We were pleased. The change of focus from how danger it could be to how beautiful it was made our heart beats almost back to normal :).

Hiking to Knife Ridge

We had to cross a very narrow path to get to the bridge and to the main section of knife ridge. It was scary to walk the narrow path, but the view was breathtaking! No matter which way we looked at, it was simply spectacular!

As we took pictures, quite a few skiers arrived. They stopped momentarily, looked at the vistas and marched onto the knife ridge toward their destination, triple black ski slopes. We did not follow them despite the deceiving grace and ease they showed - we were not in their league! However we were pleased with ourselves that we stretched beyond our comfort zone and were rewarded with heart thumping excitement and thrill, fantastic vistas.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pair Skiing on the Trails of Wolf Creek

The ski trails were covered with powder snow, the sky was blue, the Sun was shining. It was nearly a perfect condition to ski during our stay at Wolf Creek.

The whole group splits due to skill levels, preference or ages, to enjoy the snow. The kids were happy to enjoy the skiing in group and companionship at the same time - they had a blast. Lily and I were happy to ski at our own pace and by ourselves - we had a blast as well.

Wolf Creek Trail Map

There are 4 main lifts at the ski area  - Raven, Bonanza, Treasure and Alberta. Raven has shorter but wider trails, Treasure lift is the tallest lift and has longer trails.  Bonanza lift is some where in between. Alberta lift is remote from the base, and the trails there are mostly at expert levels.

Due to the crowd at Raven and Bonanza, Lily and I stayed at the treasure lift area most of the time.

On the top
Continuous improvement over the years, Lily's skiing skill improved a lot. The powder snow really helped to build her confidence. She is a solid advanced skier now  - at level Blue to Black as she told others.Once she got used to skiing, we enjoyed the treasure lift area- less crowd, shorter line at the lift, challenging but not too difficult trails. We explored many trails, including relatively easy Bonanza trail, Novajo trail, what we really liked this time was the blue trails,  Tranquility, Alberta trail, and a few more challenging trails such as silver street, wind hammer, and etc.

We also loved the times we had sitting side by side on the lift talking now and then, sharing a laugh when we fell or tripped the few times, lying/sitting  on the snow together for a short break.... She loved it that she did not have to take care of kids but being taken care of.

Skiing together was joyful: I could show off a little now and then, she helped to modulate my pace, I got the thrills and she had the peace of mind.  Most satisfying to me was that she was willing to follow me to any trails I wanted to explore, anythings I wanted to do. 

Seeing the grace skiers had on the surface lift, I was itching to try surface lift. She agreed. Locating the start of the surface lift got us into a few troubles - we had to hike to an easier trail once. We got onto a black trail twice unintentionally! But we managed to ski down. Once got there, the operator gave us a short instruction on how to ride the surface lift. I was lifted uphill on the first try, but I fell a couple hundred feet into the ride and had to tumble down from a double black trail - fortunately no harm was done; she tried 3 times on the surface lift without success. But we were really happy that we tried - reading the trail map carefully she told me that the surface lift is for expert skiers - no wonder the lift station was so hard to locate

We also went to Alberta lift area, a first for her. To and back from Alberta lift area, we had to do a bit cross country ski - not downhill. She is actually faster than me cross country. 

The most thrilling and satisfying adventure we had was to explore the Knife Ridge above the top of Alberta lift. That will  be a story for next time.

Skiing Couple

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Break Ski Trip to Wolf Creek

Due to a dry winter last year and Justin's desire to ski with his friends, we went skiing during Spring Break for the first time and back to Wolf Creek. It turned out to be a great trip in many ways.

a community at Pagosa Spring, Co
The trip was organized by by a bible study group, and participated by eleven families. We joined in as friends of a family in that group. Five of the families shared three rented vacation homes at Pagosa Springs Colorado,

We arrived at Pagosa Springs last Saturday in a snow shower. The rented houses are in a newly developed subdivision, and the inside is impressive - huge family room with two story ceiling, fully equipped kitchen, beautifully decorated bedrooms. It is almost like staying in our "dream" vacation home!
Decoration in the family room of our "community center"
 The master bedroom Lily and I stayed in

One 3 bedroom 2 story house served as our community center. The five families had dinner together in this house every night during our stay. With several super chef moms, the dinner food was fabulous!  We also had a birthday party on the last night there.

The 2 bedroom house we stayed in served as a youth center. After dinner the 9 kids in this group,  mostly middle school/high school kids - 6 boys, 3 girls, Justin's friends and their siblings  would escape the "community center"  a short time after dinner to have their own space and activities without querying eyes of their parents. To my surprise, they actually played real games, "resistance" being one, not computer games. Being the youngest in this group, Nicholas actually enjoyed playing with big brothers and big sisters.

Lily and I were the only parents in this house as chaperons  We left them alone, and the only intrusion was to provide water and fruit as snack. We were also the "bad guys" to shut their party down at a predetermined time.
playing card game at "youth center"

Preparing fruit for the playing kids 
The snow shower made our first skiing day a perfect day for skiing, and marvelously beautiful. 

Because we ski as a big group, we got quit a few perks: when we arrived at Wolf Creek, the skis and boots were ready for us to put on, and lift tickets were handed to us shortly after. On top of the great discounts for lift tickets and equipment rentals, we also had a designated area for equipment storage.  We got these benefits thanks to Jason, the trip organizer.
Snow trees at the top of Alberta Lift
The ski trails were covered with powder snow, the sky was blue, the Sun was shining. The whole group split due to skill levels, preference or ages, to enjoy the snow. The kids were happy to enjoy the skiing and companionship at the same time - they had a blast. Lily and I were happy to ski at our own pace and by ourselves - we had a blast as well.

(to be continued)